“To describe the agony of a marathon to someone who’s never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind.”
– Jerome Drayton
Okay, here it is….a blog post about my first full marathon! Now, I know that people who have just run their first marathon don’t generally like to talk about it much. I mean, surely this is the first time most of you have even heard about this, right? What? Melissa ran a marathon? You’re kidding! I know, I know, we marathoners are generally kind of quiet about such accomplishments and all….
AHHHH!!! I ran a friggin marathon, people!!!
And I cannot. stop. talking. about. it. My friends and family are going to hate me. I just can’t stop. Coworker: “Hey, Melissa, you want a piece of gum?” Me: “No, thanks. You know, I can’t chew gum when I run. It’s weird. Oh, hey, did you know I just ran a marathon?…” Oh yeah, it’s that bad.
But, in a meek attempt at trying to reign in the length of this blog, I’m going to narrow down my recap a little for you. I’m going to tell you the top 10 most important, most memorable things about my first full marathon experience. Okay? Sound fair? Short and sweet, right? Good. Then, here we go.
Marathon Memory Number 1: The friendship. Oh, hands down, this makes the list. I was so blessed to be able to make this marathon trip with two good friends and fellow marathoners, Tammy and Teresa. This was Teresa’s second marathon and Tammy’s fourth. Not only were they incredibly supportive, but they were also knowledgeable and helped me know what to expect. It also helped to know that they would be at the end waiting for me! (They both PR’ed in this race, by the way! Go Tammy and Teresa!) It also didn’t hurt to have buddies to hit up the Cheesecake Factory with after the race! Mmmmmm.
Marathon Memory Number 2: The awesome bling! Okay, I know I’m not going in chronological order here. I didn’t get the bling until the end of the race. But hey, it was important enough to throw in here at the top of the list, okay? This race had so much cool stuff for the finishers! I got a finisher’s hat, a finisher’s fleece blanket, and a butt-kickin’ medal. Oh, and a bagel.
Marathon Memory Number 3: The funniest sign I’ve ever seen in a race. Now, granted, I’ve never done a marathon before this one. But I’ve done quite a few races and have seen quite a few signs. Not to mention the signs I’ve seen online. But the dude that was waiting for us at the bottom of a hill during this race takes the cake. Now, mind you, it was 26 degrees or so at the beginning of this race, and it didn’t warm up a whole heck of a lot throughout the day. But there, standing at the bottom of a hill that I had decided to just walk through, was a man…buck naked…holding a, um, strategically placed sign that said “Run faster, or I’m dropping the sign.” Oh my gosh, that was the funniest thing ever! I managed to pick up the pace a tad, believe it or not, and ran up the whole hill. How about that? So, thank you, naked stranger man. Job well done. (Okay – and don’t tell Richard – but I actually peeked when I ran by and he wasn’t actually naked. False advertising….)
Marathon Memory Number 4: The feeling at the starting line. Oh, there is nothing like it, my friends. Knowing that all that hard work and daydreaming had lead me to that moment. Standing there amongst thousands of other people that I thought I’d never stand among. It was quite humbling. And oh so awesome.
Marathon Memory Number 5: The running. Of course. The running. I wouldn’t have been there if I didn’t love to run, right? That feeling of soaring along…knowing that I was about to go a distance I’d never gone before…ahhh. It’s hard to explain if you’re not a runner. Just trust me. Unchartered territory is a beautiful thing to a runner. And I knew that’s where I was headed.
Marathon Memory Number 6: Mile 20. Although I was already tired and starting to hurt, Mile 20 was such a beautiful sight. My longest run to-date up to that point had been a 20-mile training run. I knew that the moment I stepped across that 20 mile point, I was somewhere I had never been before. And that was really cool.
Marathon Memory Number 7: The pain. Oh, the pain. Hey, I didn’t say that every moment I remembered from the marathon would be pleasant, did I? I will never tell the story of my first marathon without remembering that pain. Oh my gosh! When all those marathon articles I read said, “Be prepared, it’s gonna hurt,” by golly, they meant it. It did. It was intense. See this picture? Obviously not the most flattering picture of me there ever was. But it’s definitely the most real. You can even see it in my hands…they are balled into fists of determination. Honestly, I love this picture. It shows what it took to keep putting one foot in front of the other and get myself to that finish line. My legs did not want to continue, but my heart did. And this picture shows that.
Marathon Memory Number 8: The unbelievable amount of support. Oh my gosh…I couldn’t believe all of the texts, Facebook messages and posts, phone calls, etc. that I received with regard to the marathon. It was amazing how many of you had my back through this. And believe me, I thought of all of you as I ran. I got a message from my mom during the race telling me how proud she was of me. From my fantastic husband saying the same and how much he loved and believed in me. From my teenage daughter who…okay, time to drop the sentimentality here…who said, “Have fun running and stuff.” Hey, you take what you can get, right? I got a phone call from my dad after the race checking on me and making sure I had made it okay, and telling me he was proud of me. This is what life is all about really. Knowing that family and friends are there with you through it all. I never felt that as much as I felt it while I was running that race. In fact, I broke each mile down to pick a particular person in my life and thank God for them. That’s what got me through some of those last miles, believe me.
Marathon Memory Number 9: Seeing the finish line. Oh, people, let me tell you – there is nothing like that. Knowing that the pain was so close to being over! Knowing that I was about to join the less than 1% of people that know what it’s like to run a 26.2-mile race. (After seeing this crowd, I still just can’t fathom how that statistic can be right, but I guess it is! There was a moment after the race when I was explaining the feelings I was having to Richard and he commented, “There are very few people in this world who really know how you feel right now.” Wow. Such a humbling thought.)
And finally, here we are. The end of the list. (See? That didn’t take too long, did it?) 😉
The final most important memory about my first full marathon experience? The thing that I won’t ever forget for as long as I live?
Marathon Memory Number 10: That feeling I got when I crossed the finish line. That feeling that even I, a blabbermouth writer, can’t seem to put into the right words. That knowing, deep down in my soul, that I did not give up. That I set my mind to do something so extremely difficult…so unbelievably hard…and that I actually succeeded at it. That feeling of pride in myself.
As I crossed that finish line, I left so many things behind on that marathon course. Past heartbreaks, mistakes, health problems, self-doubt, insecurities….you name it. At that moment in time, as I crossed that finish line, I was one thing, and one thing only.
I was a marathoner.
So thank you, readers. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for reading through this and for humoring me as I went through the memories that this experience has left me with. Thank you for letting me show you how very much this means to me and how it has literally changed my life.
Now, you go out and find something that gives you this feeling, okay? I mean it. Go. Right now.
Life is way too short not to have moments like this one.
“I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.”
– John Hanc