Marathon training has officially begun.
When I was training for my first marathon last year, I swore I would never run another one again. I was miserable for what seemed like ages with infected blisters, a trip to urgent care, and more aches and pains than I could count. As the race got closer and closer, my stress and anxiety skyrocketed. A couple days before the race, I had all but convinced myself I wouldn’t finish.
But race day changed everything. Every fear and worry I had disappeared more with each mile, and when I passed 17.3 miles – the furthest I had ever run – I was ecstatic. When I hit 20 miles, I knew I was going to finish.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it hurt like hell, but running a marathon was an incredible experience. There are no words to describe the feeling I had when I turned the corner on the last homestretch, saw the finish line and thought to myself, “I’m about to finish a marathon.” The only moment better than that was actually crossing the finish line.
The first thing I remember saying after the race was, “I want to do that again.” After crossing that finish line, the 12 long, painful, miserable weeks prior didn’t matter. I decided right then and there that suffering through the training was worth it just to experience that feeling again.
And now here I am.
When people ask me why I’m doing it all over again, I tell them I have no idea. I say that I’m crazy, and signing up for it just kind of happened, and I might as well because I’m young and able, right? But I know why I’m doing it.
There are still days when I forget. There are tough runs where I struggle and wonder why the hell I ever decided to run in the first place; when I’m dripping sweat, struggling to catch my breath, and cursing with every step. Just this morning during 7.5 miles, I lost count of how many times I said, “holy s#!%, it’s hot.”
Looking back on it now, I know my mental state was the biggest contributor to my struggles last year. I had just graduated college and I was stressed about my career, figuring out this whole adulthood thing, and everything in between. Beating my body up physically when it was already so worn down mentally wasn’t easy.
The week after the marathon, I spent three days in Albany with my college friends. On my last night there I had a meltdown in a bar, cried the whole hour and a half home the next day, and spent the next six weeks experiencing what it was like to be depressed for the first time in my life.
I’m running a marathon again because I’m now happy and healthy and want to show myself how far I’ve come since that rough week in October, and I know that if I could do it then, I can do it again. I’m doing it because running has changed my life over the last three years, from struggling to run just one mile to conquering 26.2 of them. I’m doing it again because the feeling of completing something that I never, ever would’ve believed possible is worth chasing after as many times as I can.
I’ll probably be just as tired, sore and cranky over the next 11 weeks as I was at this time last year. If you ask me why I’m running another marathon, I’ll probably roll my eyes and tell you I have no idea. I’ll complain and tell you that I never want to do it again, and ask you to please not let me sign up for another one next year.
But I know why I’m doing it. I may forget between now and then – but race day changes everything.
It’s not easy, and I know it’ll just get even harder from here. Both of my big toenails are already black and blue and I sometimes wake up in the morning with calves so tight I can hardly get out of bed and waddle to the shower. But like it or not, I’ve turned myself into a marathoner and I have no plans to stop anytime soon.
Every mile, and every ache and pain between now and October 2 will be worth it when I cross that finish line again. I may lose a few toenails and some sanity in the process, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.