Life-Changing. Scary. Challenging. Emotional. Hard as hell. Rewarding.
“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon”
– Katherine Switzer
I had been contemplating the idea of a marathon for a while now. It felt like such a huge undertaking that I always had a reason to not attempt something that painful. I’ve always been pretty hard into fitness, but all that training looked and sounded exhausting. After all, with three kids under five now, I barely get enough sleep and recovery time as it is. But, that is exactly why I chose now. I like to take the most ‘impossible’ situations, stop any excuses, and go for it.
Before I became pregnant with our third child, Jacob (now 10 months), I was getting bored with my workout routine. I needed something different, something that would help me feel like I was in the best shape of my life. That is when I found Kickboxing and I immediately fell in love with it. Not only did it make me feel like a complete badass, but it also gave me the confidence to start up running again after Jacob was born. I couldn’t even remember the last time I went on a real run, more than just some time on a treadmill that I didn’t take too seriously out of boredom. I was amazed at how well the kickboxing helped with my running, and even though I knew it would, my expectations were still totally surpassed. The only problem was, I could bring my kids to kickboxing, but taking three kids for a run was not going to happen – I had to plan my training around when I had someone to watch them.
A week after birthing Jacob, I was feeling amazing and started back at kickboxing. Everyone around me thought I was pretty nuts, but I really did feel that good. I attribute that to working out right up until going into labour – literally. I figured that if I had the ability to accomplish that, why not a marathon, and why not start now? I signed up for the BMO Vancouver Marathon and the training started just a few months after Jacob was born.
The BMO Vancouver Marathon, Vancouver’s only marathon, is one of the top destination marathons in the world. Runners take a 42.2KM (26.2 miles) adventure past beaches, through natural parks, and along Vancouver’s Seawall. The marathon route boasts 70% shoreline views and stunning scenery. It definitely was a stunning run!
The last 6 months of training were full of so much intensity that it was exhausting. Mentally and physically exhausting. So much so that when I had a run that wasn’t up to my expectations because I was just. so. tired, I started to have so much doubt go through my head. Could I actually do this? I’m a perfectionist and a go-getter, so I take any so-called ‘failures’ hard. Right away I recognized that negative mindset and did what I could to get that determination back. It helped that the last time that the mega-doubt started to creep in, that it was challenge of the month day at kickboxing. I made sure I didn’t leave until my name was on each of the 9Round boards as the person to beat. Mind over body.
The night before though, I was an anxious mess and I’m not even sure how much sleep I actually had. I fell asleep feeling like I was going to puke from all the nerves, but I woke up confident and ready to run my heart out after I realized that there really wasn’t anything to be nervous about. Doing something that you haven’t tried before, something that scares you, conquering fear and learning to trust in your own strength is beyond rewarding.
Finally, I found myself at the start line. Darcy ran the half-marathon, so I arrived early with him as he started at 7am and my race didn’t start until 8:30am. I enjoyed taking in the atmosphere as I waited. Those last 10km tested me like never before. But, whenever I started getting frustrated or discouraged during the run, I felt like the little engine that could, continually telling myself “I know I can,” and visualizing the BMO finish line and the finish line of my next goal (discussed below).
The last 6 months were full of discipline, dedication, mental and physical tests, amazing accomplishments, proud moments and a lot of hard work. Marathon training was a great rollercoaster of highs and lows. The crazy part of it all, is that even though I would be so drained at times, I loved every minute of it. I loved every time I progressed and improved. And, each time I felt like I was a failure, I got back up and put one foot in front of the other, again. I wasn’t born to be a runner and I most definitely feel like I wasn’t built to be a runner either, I just happen to find it a fantastic way to complete my fitness routine and wash away whatever worries there were that day.
I finished the marathon in 4:40. Secretly I’ll always wish that I had completed it even just a little faster, but that is just what my mindset will always be. I have to keep reminding myself I did just do the marathon after just starting to run again six months ago, so I guess I should learn to be be a little easier on myself.
What I learned about marathon training was to stop worrying too much about what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong (as long as it isn’t hurting me, of course). All you have to do is follow a plan, keep up the strength and cross training and have some patience. All you have to do is show up and put one foot in front of the other and you’re moving in the right direction.
It was also my goal during all of the training that no matter how tired I was, I had to finish hard at the finish line. And I did. As soon as I could see that finish line, I took off, pumped my arms and ran as fast as my body would take me for a strong finish.
Thank you to those who gather along the route, cheering the runners on. Your cheering reminds us how much more we can take than anyone ever thought was possible. And, since it was a warm day, thanks to all the neighbours who had their hose out or kids with spray bottles to help cool us down along the way.
Some great moments from the marathon:
I’m a glutton for punishment. I really am. Call me crazy, but I’m going to do it again. On an even bigger scale. Next week I’ll start training for the Dopey Challenge this next January in Disney World. Four days of running: a 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon. As long as I can do it all in a 16 minute mile each day, I’ll walk (hopefully I’ll be able to walk after that) away with six medals around my neck. Granted, being a Disney run with photo opportunities, I’ll only be worrying about finishing by the max time, not bettering my time from BMO Vancouver. This Disney girl doesn’t want to pass up all the fun photo ops with the characters and whatever other surprises I want to stop for along the way. RunDisney, here I come!
I challenge you to set a goal to conquer something that scares you. Challenge yourself and you will be rewarded. Trust me, it feels so freaking good.
Have you ever run a marathon? What did it make you feel?