Training For a Marathon is Different Every Single Time

As a former employee of Runner’s World Magazine, I had the privilege of running my very first marathon through the Runner’s World VIP Program (formerly known as “Runner’s World Challenge”). I was able to gain first-hand experience and extensive knowledge on how to properly train for a marathon with the help of my colleagues along with our robust amount of published content within the magazine.

Being that it was my first marathon, I took it very seriously. I made sure to allow myself the proper amount of time for training as well as dedicating myself to following a specific marathon training program (In this case, it was Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Marathon Training Program)

Although I had no expectation for a specific goal time, I did want to ensure that I gave it my all and was as prepared as I could be.

I finished in a time of 4 hours and 7 seconds, with a decent amount of energy left over afterwards. In hindsight, now knowing that I was well-prepared enough, I wish I had aimed for a time of under 4 hours, but that’s besides the point.

After running Big Sur Marathon, I had never felt more accomplished in my life. I had assumed that since I had one marathon in the bag, every marathon following this one would be a piece of cake. Little did I know, that’s completely untrue.

Just because you ran one doesn’t mean it will get easier or that it will be a similar experience for your next. Just like any job or any relationship, you never have the same experience twice. There are many factors that go into running a great race. One thing is for sure – Never lessen your efforts or level of integrity.

Here are some of the major factors that can make or break your marathon experience:

  1. The Course. Some people don’t like to research the course beforehand. I personally think that’s ridiculous. Knowing the course can play a huge role in how you train. Knowing whether or not it’s hilly and knowing where the hills are located can help you both physically and mentally. Being prepared for running up or downhill will affect performance and fatigue in the long run (no pun intended) based on your training. Other factors in the course include altitude, scenery, and terrain.
    • Altitude falls under the “hilly or not” bucket. Running a race in Colorado versus New York are two completely different experiences because of the altitude levels, which ultimately affects your breathing.
    • Scenery can psychologically affect your performance. Visually stimulating courses may or may not improve your running pace, depending on how affected you are by your surroundings. If you want to see more trees, sign up for a race in a more remote location. If you want to see more buildings, sign up for a race in a larger city.
    • Terrain is in reference to pavement versus dirt. Depending on where you primarily train, your legs, and more specifically your knees, can be severely impacted by the texture of the course. Pavement tends to put more strain on your joints as opposed to dirt trails.
  2. The Crowd. Similar to the way people are affected by running with music, running a marathon that has great crowds can aid performance. One of the things that I loved most about running the New York City Marathon was amount of support you received from the local communities as you are running through the different boroughs and neighborhoods.
  3. The Training Plan. Not all training plan works for everyone. When it comes to running, everyone has different levels of expertise and physical fitness. Some training programs cater specifically to elite runners, while others cater to beginners. In addition, people also have such varying schedules throughout the week that not every program fits their daily routine. However, when it comes to marathon training, you do have to be flexible as well as dedicated. Skipping out on long runs or refraining from speed workouts can really hinder performance.
  4. The Season. In the United States, primary marathon season takes place in the Fall. Most of the major big-city marathons occur between September and November (and they fill up fast, so make sure you sign up early!). Fall in the United States can be wildly unpredictable. Temperatures tend to fluctuate and so do the chances of precipitation, high-wind factor, and humidity. If you are running a race in the Fall, be cognizant of the fact that a majority of your training takes place in the Summer, so the temperatures will not be nearly the same. You also must consider the chances of rain, high winds, and high humidity. Be properly dressed and well-hydrated.
  5. Size of the race. The size of a marathon can widely vary from a range of a couple hundred to thousands among thousands. I’ve run three marathons thus far, which include the Big Sur Marathon, New York City Marathon, and Marine Corps Marathon. Of the three, New York City and Marine Corps were very large races that took place in larger cities, with participants upwards of 30,000+ runners. The Big Sur Marathon, on the other hand, only had approximately 6,000+ runners. The size of the race can affect your performance depending on your preference of running alongside more people or fewer people.

From my personal experience, the best marathon I have run still remains the Big Sur Marathon, my first one. And this is because of the fact that I was so adamant about training.

So my advice is this – You get what you give.

The amount of preparation you set aside will not be in vain. Give it everything you have and it will come through in the end.

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A Reason to Run

One of the things that I find most incredible about being a runner is the unwavering support that comes from the running community. Through the years, it’s never ceased to amaze me of how much the running community truly gives back.

As a former employee of Runner’s World Magazine, I’ve had the honor of being directly involved with many large races, such as the New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, and many more, where I’ve had the pleasure of meeting dozens upon dozens of people who have a story to tell behind the reasons why they run.

For me personally, it’s always been something that I did just for myself, but when I’ve spoken to many others, it’s always been about so much more. It’s for a cause.

Aside from working at Runner’s World, I’ve also been a runner for nearly my entire life. I’ve ran enough 5K’s to lose count and eventually made my way up to long-distance races such as as half-marathons and full-marathons. It was only recently that I realized how many people ran for causes instead of just for fun. Those causes have been a pivotal driving force in the fruition of the thousands of non-profit organizations and non-profit races that are in existence today.

In complete honesty, running (especially long distance running) is not for the faint of heart. It’s a love-hate relationship that people often try to shy away from. Not everyone enjoys it or is motivated by the act of running alone, which is why running for a cause is a much more compelling reason to start.

I’ve had many friends and colleagues ask me suggestions for races to sign up for and I can recommend many that I’ve run, but I’ve always found that it’s more meaningful to sign up for races that actually hold a place close to your heart.

At the end of the day, after the miles are completed and you’ve proven to yourself that you can do it, you can pat yourself on the back and move on with your life. But knowing that you’ve ran those miles to affect change, to make a difference – That is something to show for.

And that is why I’d encourage anyone to become involved in running for a reason.

With Spring underway and half-marathon and marathon training right around the corner for the Fall season, try to see if you can find it in yourself to run for something that matters; or even just try to get more involved with a non-profit that means something to you.

For more ways to get involved, check out websites like Eventbrite.com for opportunities. They have great resources for fundraising.

Get Your New York On

I assisted in the activation of Runner’s World‘s participation in the New York City Marathon Expo and race for the past two years. I experienced the devastating natural disaster that was Hurricane Sandy in 2012. I watched the terrible disappointment and deep sadness that overcame participants, supporters, the entire community of New York City, and those who came from all over the world. Then, I experienced the revival of the 2013 New York City Marathon where runners came back even more passionate and fired up than in previous years.

This year, I left my job at Runner’s World and I will not be there as a Runner’s World representative. Instead, I will be there running as an individual – representing myself. There are a vast amount of reasons why this race means so much to me; reasons that specifically have to do with the fact that this is NEW YORK CITY. This race takes place in the city that shaped my post-college experiences and has made me the person I am now. New York City has beaten me down, discouraged me, brought me joy, and uplifted me over the course of the past three years. This year, in particular, has been overwhelming to say the least, so I couldn’t be more excited to run this race for those reasons.

I haven’t trained as long or hard as I have in prior races, but I will use every ounce of pain, sadness, and discouragement that has struck me this year.

I know that there are endless reasons for why people run marathons or even run at all. In the end, the finish line is what matters. Getting through something difficult, whether it be a marathon, a sickness, a loss, or any type of hardship is never easy. Sometimes, you want to just give up. Just trust me when I say that making it through is and will be the most rewarding feeling in the world. In the end, this is why we endure any pain at all – getting through it and coming out stronger than before.

Tomorrow, I’ll be ready to give everything I have to finish this race. Although I’m not as prepared as I’d like to be, I know that I can push through. Though it may seem cliche, life is like a marathon. You’re as prepared as you can be, but a lot can happen during the miles in between. You just have to get through it.

Hold Onto What You Love

This will be the first time that I’m writing about running in quite some time, so pardon me if I’m a bit rusty.

Somewhere along the journey of my path to “finding myself”, I lost my connection to running. I’ve had a disconnect from this part of my life ever since I got promoted to a new job within my company back in November of 2013.

I used to work directly with Runner’s World Magazine, where I had hands on experience working with the people who really made the magazine come to life. In my first year and a half of working at Runner’s World, I was fully immersed in all things running. I ran my first half marathon, my second half marathon, and eventually my first full marathon all within the very first year of working at my company. It was surreal. It was a dream come true.

However, somewhere along the way, my priorities shifted. After I got promoted, running became more of a sideline task. It became an “if I have time” item on my to-do list. Ever since that happened, I’ve felt more lost than I’ve ever been in my whole life.

Throughout my life, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing out a list of goals that I want to accomplish in the beginning of every new year. One of my goals for 2014 was to run another half marathon and full marathon. So far, I’ve gone through all of 2014 without running a single race, not even a 5K.

I signed up for the San Francisco Marathon back in January/February. By doing that, I planted the idea in my head that I was going to complete my goal of running a marathon this year.

Later in March, my friend and I decided to spontaneously book a trip to Australia (which was actually another goal on my 2014 list – to travel to a foreign country)

As the weeks went by and the San Francisco Marathon was getting closer and closer, I ended up backing out of running it. I had to sacrifice the race to save money for my trip to Australia. I had booked my flight to be exactly one week after the day of the marathon – A wonderful idea that was on my part…not.

Not running the San Francisco Marathon was devastating. I was heartbroken. I was completely disappointed with myself because I’ve never set my sights for a goal that I couldn’t eventually accomplish.

After a series of discouraging events prior to my trip to Australia, I was feeling defeated. I’ve always been a very lucky person. Things have always somehow worked out for me without ever having to put in too much effort.

This year did not follow that pattern.

But, in a bizarre turn of events, my year began looking up ever since I returned from my trip, reassuring me that things really do eventually work out…with time.

Therefore, I’m proud to announce that I will be running the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon on November 2nd, giving me hope that although I was down, I am not out.

I’ve began training again for the first time in over a year and I have never felt more alive. There’s something about running that makes me feel balanced. There’s something about it that makes me feel like I have meaning in my life. I may be wrong, but I think that’s called passion.

So my advice to you is this: If you have found something or someone that makes you feel completely alive, makes you feel completely lost if you don’t have it, makes you wake up in the morning feeling like you can conquer the world, then PLEASE by all means, hold onto it.

It’s very rare to find something or someone that you truly care about and life is just too short to roam the earth feeling lost.

Big Moments

Two days ago was the 2nd Annual Runner’s World Half Marathon which took place in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. A year and two days ago holds a memory that was a significant milestone in my life. It’s one of those days that you’ll remember for the rest of your life and each year will feel a rush of nostalgia overcome you on that exact day. Last year, the inaugural Runner’s World Half Marathon also happened to be the inaugural half marathon of my life. Last year, my whole world changed.

Now, I don’t mean to sound over-dramatic here, but I can definitely say that the course of my journey in life was turned upside down a year and two days ago.

Running has always been a large part of my life. Working at Runner’s World has given me opportunities as a runner that I could have never imagined. Running a marathon had always been on my bucket list. Of course, I wanted to get a half-marathon under my belt first. The Runner’s World Half Marathon was that opportunity for me.

I had no idea what to expect. I had never trained for a race of that distance before. I didn’t know how I was going to feel before or afterwards. All I knew was that I was nervous and I couldn’t believe that it was going to finally happen.

A year and two days ago, I ran my first half marathon. What I didn’t realize was that running this race would give me the courage to make other decisions that would change everything else for me. A year and two days ago was the same day that I broke up with my college boyfriend. After that, things were different. I moved to New York City and embarked on this new journey which I’m still currently traveling.

It’s amazing to look back at the course of a year. It’s even more amazing at how little we know about how drastically one moment can cause a ripple effect of bigger life-changing moments.

They say your 20’s is the time where you’re the most lost and confused. They say it’s the time of self-discovery.

Well, as I’ve written in past blog entries before, it really is.

This entire blog is documentation of this transformation period. Looking back a year ago, I didn’t realize that running this half marathon would plant a seed that would allow me to grow as a runner and a person.

This year at the Runner’s World Half Marathon, I couldn’t believe how far away last year seemed. I couldn’t believe how far I’ve come. I couldn’t believe how different things are now. Yet, I’m thankful for that moment.

I guess big moments do that to you. They make you reflect on your life. Sometimes we have to appreciate these moments. At the time, it may seem like something little, but later on it will end up being something big

As the saying goes, “Enjoy the little things in life for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things”

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2013

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2012

Iron Strength Workout Recap

I’ve been expanding my horizons lately and trying different types of workouts in the past few weeks other than running. For example, last Thursday, I went to a Hip-Hop dance class with my sister for the first time.

As much as I love running, I also love other variations of exercise that challenge me to utilize different muscles in my body.

Earlier this morning, I participated in an Iron Strength Workout that was held in Central Park at 6AM by the well-known Sports Medicine Physician, Dr. Jordan Metzl. This event was held in conjunction with my team at Runner’s World due to the high demand of participation for this type of workout.

I have never done a workout like this before, so I was curious as to what was in store for me. A colleague of mine had warned us, prior, that it was not to be taken lightly, and for him to say that definitely rattled my bones a bit.

I woke up this morning at 5AM on the dot. My first thoughts were, “I can’t believe I’m waking up this early for a workout” (I’m more of night owl when it comes to exercising) I got ready in only a few short minutes and headed over to Central Park.

When I got there, the sky was still dark and my eyes were still heavy. As the sun began to rise, more people started coming in waves and I was finally waking up. Once it turned 6:15AM, Dr. Metzl made an announcement, introducing my colleagues from Runner’s World and myself. Shortly after, we dove right into running.

I had no time to loosen up, so I just had to shake it out during the run.

Below was the structure of the entire workout:

  • Hill Sprints

– Skip up, jog down, sprint up, jog down

– Skip up, jog down, sprint up two (2) times, jog down

– Skip up, jog down, sprint up three (3) times, jog down

  • Plyometrics

– 6 sets of 15 jumping squats, rotating abs in between

– 3 sets of 15 hill climbers, rotating push ups in between

– 3 sets of 10 burpees, rotating one-legged toe touches across (5 on each leg)

– 3 minutes of planks (1 minute plank on the left forearm, 1 minute plank on your the forearm, 1 minute on both forearms)

(Iron Strength Video Feature on the Runner’s World website)

I’d say that I was feeling the burn right after the 3rd set of jumping squats.

My overall assessment of the workout is an A+ rating. This workout incorporated all parts of the body with enough rest in between for recovery. It included cardio as well weight training, balance, and flexibility.

I was extremely satisfied with how I felt afterwards because my muscles were in pain (which is a good thing) I always love testing my limits and breaking new barriers. I was able to evaluate my current fitness level through this workout and I know now what I need to work on to become a better runner and overall athlete.

What I have taken away from this is the following:

Never be afraid to try new things. You never know if it might be something you fall in love with. And if it’s not, at least you learned something new. Knowledge is power. Expanding our horizons helps us grow.

The Runner's World Team in New York City
The Runner’s World Team in New York City
Group Photo
Group Photo

RACE REPORT: FRNY 5-Mile Pride Run

This is a tad bit overdue, but not so much to the point where I have completely lost the impact that this race had on me.

This past Saturday, June 29th, I ran my first race since the Big Sur Marathon back in April. I ran the 5-mile Front Runner’s New York Pride Run in Central Park. I signed up with my sister, which is automatically sentimental to me because anything I do with my sister has a great deal of significance. This was the longest distance race that she has ever entered and I couldn’t be more proud of her for completing it.

This race also greatly affected me in terms of realizing how far I have come with the hard work that I have put in throughout this past month. I am still in the midst of the Runner’s World Run Streak from Memorial Day, May 27th, up until this very day.

On Saturday, it was brutally humid and I just wasn’t in race mentality. Once the clock started, my legs felt like lead weights. In all seriousness, I had even considered walking at mile 3. I was tired, hot, and frustrated. I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to run a decent time. Miraculously, approaching mile 4, I began picking up my pace because I just wanted the race to be over already.

I crossed the finish line with the clock reading somewhere around 40:01 (give or take a few seconds)

In my head, I just kept repeating to myself, “I’ll take it. It’s not the best time, but it’s not the worst” and considering how I felt, I was amazed to even run anywhere near that time.

Upon finishing, I looked around in a complete daze and saw so many smiling faces. This race meant a lot more than what I perceived it for myself. It was a celebration for others. Then, I saw my sister running through the chute and I didn’t care an ounce about my performance. I ran alongside her to the finish line and was just happy.

Later that day, I searched in Google for results from the race. When I checked my chip time, I saw that I had actually PR-ed. I felt instant gratification and couldn’t believe that I had PR-ed after feeling like I had just ran the worst race of my life.

I looked back and thought about how much training I had invested for this race, without even realizing it.

I have been running for 36 consecutive days now.

To be able to run a race and PR after never getting one day of rest truly amazes me.

Every day, I surprise myself with the infinite possibilities that can be created from hard work, dedication, and perseverance; not only in myself, but everyone.

We all have a capabilities beyond our wildest dreams.

From what I have learned after all of this run-streaking is that we can create our own miracles. All you have to do is set a goal and make it happen, and it surely will.

Now here are some photos from this past Saturday:

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#RWrunstreak

Earlier on, I blogged about stagnancy (Refer to: On Setting New Goals) After I ran the Big Sur Marathon and the dust had settled, my excitement finally wore off. I began feeling the itch to create a new goal for myself. Luckily, an opportunity presented itself in the form of the Runner’s World Summer Run Streak 2013.

This opportunity was perfect for me because the rules had already been laid out and it was just up to me to adhere to them (The rules are simple: Run at least 1 mile every day beginning on Memorial Day, May 27th and ending on Independence Day, July 4th)

The first time that I tried the Runner’s World Run Streak, it was around Thanksgiving/My birthday, and I basically chickened out within the first few days of starting.

This time around, I have no excuse. It’s a perfect way to stay in shape for the Summer as well as train for upcoming Summer/Fall races. I couldn’t ask for a better deal.

I’m currently on Day 15 of consecutively running and I feel pretty amazing.

I’ve been cutting back on the mileage when my legs need the rest, but for the most part, my runs have been very strong and consistent.

The next race on my calendar is on June 29th, where I’ll be participating in the Front Runners 5-Mile Pride Run in Central Park.

I’m happy to say that I made the initiative and took action in my time of stagnancy and now I have my sights set on new running goals. I have approximately 3 weeks left of my run streak and at this point, I’m going the distance, both figuratively and literally (Yes, that was a bit corny)

And transitioning from this, I can also say that I’ve been feeling very optimistic about other areas of my life again.

Looking back on past posts, it’s interesting to see the drastic change in my attitude from one day to the next.

Sometimes, all you really need is a little spark to get you started. From there, it’s up to you to keep the fire going.

The Human Spirit

I haven’t wrote much about running lately. It’s because I was sick all of last week with laryngitis and took a week off to rest. I started running again on Monday, the minute I felt that scratchy feeling leave my throat and lungs.

I’ve stayed indoors to run the past three days. I ran 3 miles on the treadmill at the gym on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday- all with consistent times. Happy to say I haven’t lost the spring in my step, even after finishing a marathon a few weeks ago and then being hit with severe sickness.

I felt a sense of euphoria again; like all was right in the world (or my world at least)

I wasn’t ready to take it out on the pavement yet because I always get too excited when I run in Central Park once I see the herds of runners surrounding me. I didn’t want to overdue it. I stayed inside to ease back into the game.

I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more of a lone-runner. People always ask me to run with them and I tell them, “Yea, definitely!”, but it never happens because I always seem to keep to myself. I’ve said this many times before, but I value my running time as my alone time. My time to sort through my thoughts, relieve any stress, and be with myself.

However, I’ve learned that it’s somewhat unhealthy to be that way. Sometimes, you really need people.

This morning, we finally received the long-awaited July 2013 issue of Runner’s World.

The instant I saw the cover, my heart sank. This was the issue that was dedicated to the Boston Marathon bombings that took place on April 15th. The day that turned the running community and the entire world upside down.

It feels like so long ago, but when I flip through the pages, every word recalls the feelings I felt like it was just yesterday.

As I was reading the Editor’s letter from our Editor-In-Chief, David Willey, I found one quote from Michigan Race Director, Don Kern, that resonated throughout my mind and heart:

“If you’re trying to defeat the human spirit, marathon runners are the wrong group to target”

This holds true to me in every way possible, especially now that I can proudly call myself a marathoner.

Most people don’t understand why runners run.

It’s much more than just a work-out, or keeping yourself healthy and fit. Those are actually just bonuses. It’s much more than that.

It’s a mentality. A state of mind. An outlet.

Most importantly, it’s about community.

The human spirit is an amazing thing. It’s resilient. We can be beaten and torn, but not broken. Runners, amongst all other, have proven that after the Boston Marathon bombings. To be able to rise above all the tragedy that has happened and come together stronger than ever is the miracle of the human spirit.

Runners are determined, motivated, persistent and nothing can stand in the way of that. Not a bomb, nor anything else.

I’ve learned that a sense of community is really one of the biggest reasons for why I love running. As I stated earlier in this entry, once I get into Central Park to run, I always get too excited. I immediately feel inspired and uplifted, regardless of however I was feeling that day. It’s because I know they just get me. They get why I do this.

In running and in life, we need the feeling that there are people who are going through exactly what we are going through. We need that comfort. The Boston Marathon bombings was a wake up call to the world.

The human spirit cannot be broken.

“Even when our heart aches, we summon the strength that maybe we didn’t even know we had, and we carry on; we finish the race…On that toughest mile, just when we think that we’ve hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall.” – President Barack Obama

RACE REPORT: 2013 Big Sur International Marathon

I have been counting down the days until the Big Sur Marathon ever since the very minute that I signed up for this race. I had a countdown app downloaded on my iPhone just to keep track and even had a written countdown on my dry erase board at work.

I officially began training at the end of January/beginning of February and was worried that I didn’t have enough time to prepare. Big Sur Marathon marked my first full marathon ever and I had only recently ran my first half marathon in October of 2012 at the Runner’s World Half Marathon.

A week ago, I ran my second half marathon at Rutgers University and set a personal record with a time of 1 hour and 45 minutes. As ecstatic as I was, I still had to remind myself that the race that really mattered has yet to come.

My training had many ups and downs as I was continuously getting sick due to the inconsistent weather, making poor food choices, and wearing improper winter apparel. Fortunately, my body pulled itself together in my final few weeks before the race.

Once I got on the plane to Monterey at 6AM on Friday morning, I was finally accepting the reality that I was about to run 26.2 miles. The longest distance that I ran for my long runs was a mere 15 miles, and that only happened once. Naturally, I was freaking out about the fact that I was shy of 11 miles. Regardless, I kept reminding myself that there wasn’t really much else I could do at this point and that I just had to go with how my body felt on race day.

Big Sur Marathon weekend was primarily a working weekend for me, so it was difficult to get into the mindset that I was actually racing. It ended up being a good thing because I occupied my mind with work instead of pre-race jitters. I didn’t have time to be nervous. On Saturday morning, we had an 8AM shakeout run with the Runner’s World Challengers. I didn’t participate because I was making sure that everything was prepared for when the Challengers returned. Once everyone got back, I had my own private shakeout run by myself which is what I’m used to anyways because I run by myself all the time. At this point, I was really getting in the mindset that race day was tomorrow.

Later on Saturday afternoon, we held a Strategy Session where the Runner’s World Editors gave race tips, advice, etc. This was the first time that I actually had to pay close attention since it actually applied to me. Our editors couldn’t have given better advice. From Jen, I adopted the phrase “Run relaxed” and from Amby, “Every mile is a gift”. I took these words with me to the start line.

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On Saturday night, I couldn’t sleep (no surprise there) My eyes finally shut around 12AM and I woke up on Sunday morning at 3:15AM. All of the emotions that I was unable to feel prior to this day were finally catching up to me. As we boarded the bus, I felt the crumbling sensation in the pit of my stomach. It was hard to breathe. I looked out the window and tried to distinguish the oceanic views that were hidden in the darkness. The drive took approximately 45 minutes (How I wish it was that short of a time to run)

Lining up at the start, all of the Runner’s World girls came together and we anxiously waited until the race announcer gave us the ‘go ahead’. I kept looking at my watch every 30 seconds and once it was race time, the nervous feeling in my stomach disappeared and I was just happy.

As I started my first few miles, everyone was passing me. I couldn’t have gone any slower. I kept telling myself, “Stay slow”.

I made a friend in the beginning of the race and stayed with her for the first 7 or 8 miles. It was nice to have someone there for me to keep myself grounded. We were going at conversation pace and that’s exactly what I needed. At mile 9, we parted ways and I picked up my pace as I was finally getting into race mentality. I knew that Hurricane Point was coming up, but I didn’t want to psych myself out. I just absorbed the scenery and kept myself calm.

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Once I passed Hurricane Point, I realized that I was already halfway done. I heard the piano player at the 13-mile mark and I couldn’t believe I was already there. My legs felt great, my body was relaxed, and my mentality was still positive. Up until mile 20, I felt like I was on top of the world. Nothing could stop me and I only had 6 miles left. It wasn’t until miles 22 through 26 that my legs finally started giving out. The rolling hills in the Highlands put my legs to shame and I had a persistent burning sensation in my quads for the remainder of the race. Once I saw the mile 26-marker, I had to channel every remaining bit of energy I had left to finish this race without walking. As I heard the distant sounds of people cheering and saw the finish line flags, I forced myself to open my stride. I just wanted to be done. I broke down in tears just seconds before I crossed the finish line and I couldn’t hold them back. My co-worker congratulated and comforted me, but I couldn’t speak. I just cried.

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The race volunteers gave me my medal and in that very moment, my whole life changed. I took one look at it and realized what I had just accomplished. It was quite possibly the greatest moment of my entire life.

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(EXTREMELY proud to say that I stayed true to withhold drinking alcohol for SIX WEEKS. Here I am enjoying my post-race beer. Quite possibly the most satisfying beer I’ve ever had)

I can honestly say that this was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. It was a humbling experience that provided me with a new respect for running. I am honored to say that I am a runner. I am honored to say that I am a marathoner. I feel invincible, confident, strong, empowered, brave.

I am eternally grateful to have been given the opportunity to experience a race filled with such beauty and such struggle. As cliche as it may sound, running truly is a metaphor for life. The mantra that kept me going during the marathon and will continue to keep me going is, “Never give up”

Life gets hard. Bad things happen. There is pain. In the words of Haruki Murakami (author of “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”) Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

In conclusion to this very LONG race report, I’d like to thank the people that made this marathon happen for me. They were my support, my team, my family. Thank you to my co-workers at Runner’s World. I couldn’t have done this without them.

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Official Finish Time – 4:07:58

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