I’ve been blogging for Salty Running for almost a year and a half now. Nearly 100 posts later and my, have I changed. I’d chalk my development up to a mix of taking the risk to put myself out there on Salty Running, turning 30 and buckling down to discover my spiritual self. Through it all though, one post I wrote in my early days as a blogger still sits with me. And as I begin to wrap up my first marathon training cycle in nearly nine years, I find myself coming back to it often on my final runs before the marathon.
My I Did a Marathon Once post was indeed controversial. Even if I was playing both sides, deep down I was arguing that at the time, I saw a difference between running a marathon and doing a marathon. And I thought that one was better for having trained for it and running it “fast.” Anything over 5 hours was a joke to me. In the post, I just danced around saying that, but that’s what I really thought. People called me out for being an elitist and even called me insecure.
Specifically, I remember one woman calling me out on Facebook. I don’t remember the exact comment but it involved something along the lines of me being insecure. Reading that comment made my blood boil! What did I get myself into blogging for the site?! Then later in the week, Salty wrote a rebuttal which instantly threw me on the elitist side of the ring.
It was a tough week. As time went on, I let that experience go, sort of proud of myself for asserting my opinion but every once in a while wondering if I was really insecure. At that time in my life, I was training at my highest intensity yet. I was constantly focused on getting faster and trying my hardest to keep up with some of my area’s fastest runners. I eventually saw some amazing results but that style of training would be short lived.
In December 2012, I had a mental breakdown (or maybe breakthrough) while attempting a track workout. I didn’t want to do this anymore.
I was trying to be someone I was not.
I was insecure.
At the start of this year, I made a vow to myself to try and get back to running for enjoyment first and attempt to rediscover why I run. I began logging my workouts by feel versus a certain pace. Surprisingly, I PR’d in the 5k off of this style of training. What changed? I was running for me, my pace, and for my body. I stopped trying to be someone I am not and as a result, I grew more secure of myself.
I chose to sign up for the Akron Marathon after getting inspired as a spectator of the race in 2012. It wasn’t running a fast time or a chance to run a Boston qualifier that inspired me, either. It was the race itself, the same race I “did” in 2004.
I was naive in 2004. I recall making up a measly training plan and not even following through with that. I had some years of light training under my belt though and decided that going into the race, the best plan would be to run within myself. If I had to walk, I had to walk. Deep down, I knew that I would be able to complete the race but the fear and anxiety was likely the same as it was for anyone choosing to complete a marathon. Fast or slow, trained or not. I’m willing to bet that Phidippides’ training was less than ideal.
Truth be told, that marathon was one of my most enjoyable running experiences ever. Up until my late 20s, I treasured that experience. I did a marathon. Heck, I ran most of the marathon! And I ran a pretty solid time off of little training.
My training this time around has likely been triple the volume of what is was for my first marathon. At times, I get to thinking that based on that stat alone, I could run a Boston qualifier. But as race day gets closer, and some nagging foot pain looms, I am able to quiet that voice that likes to be defined by a number. Prior to this growth, I always felt like certain times weren’t good enough. Anything over 23 minutes for the 5k? Not good enough. Marathon over four hours? Not good enough.
Ladies, and some gentlemen, let me say it loud and clear. 23 minutes IS good enough! 4 hours IS good enough! 17 minutes IS good enough! 30 minutes IS good enough! 3 hours IS good enough! 6 hours IS good enough!
You get the point.
At the end of the day, it’s not about the time but rather the experience.
And just as I don’t regret so-called failed races, I don’t regret my previous post or responses. Without that experience, I wouldn’t have been able to grow into the runner (and person) I am today.
Happy fall marathons, everyone!