30 Races. 30 Years (Or How to Fail a Marathon)

In November of 2011, I was looking for my next big race. I hadn’t raced since the Inaugural Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Disney World in October 2010 and I was itching to get back in shape and train for something big.

As a confident half marathoner, I always joked to anyone that would listen after my races that I would never ever run a marathon. Twenty six miles and three hundred some odd yards that make up the race seemed ludicrous. Why would I ever, ever do that to myself?

Because I wanted to, that’s why.

I missed running the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in 2010 and 2011 and I really wanted to run my hometown, the city where my dreams came true. And I seriously don’t know what go into but I thought that, if I had well over 16 weeks to prep for a marathon, I could totally kill it. So, without thinking twice, I registered for a full marathon. And that was that.

Of course, I would be training for a spring race indoors so I picked a training program that was focused on time spent running, rather than miles. I used the free Marathon Run Coach App for iPhone. I customized my training program to run 4 times a week, long running on Fridays, with two day of cross training (body pump) and one day of rest. It was grueling, but doable. I ran 4 mornings a week 45-120 minutes before work and all my long runs on the ‘mill. I watched a LOT of movies on my iPad and was in fighting shape by February. March and April I was training outside with Little A after work to augment my shorter am runs (the gym only opened at 5 and I needed to sleep). By the weekend of my 20 mile training run, on a hot Saturday along the Potomac I was ready. I tapered a little bit and then it was race day.

Most of you know what happens. The Cliff’s Notes version is I run with the 5:30 pace team and right at mile 15.5 I stop sweating, have intense chills and get pulled off the course and into the medical tent. Diagnosed with heat stroke, MB, D and Steve came to my rescue and my marathon was over, a mere 10.5 miles from the finish.

As someone who used to cry in public, in Pittsburgh, a lot, you’d think I would not have been as ashamed of myself or the way I acted that afternoon in the medical tent. But believe me when I tell you: not finishing that marathon was the most devastating thing that’s ever happened to me. I was so disappointed in myself and I was so so embarrassed. I felt like I’d let everyone down.

I recovered on my parent’s couch in the J and after my ego had been repaired and my internal body temperature returned to normal, I knew this wasn’t over. But how Captain Ahab of me would it be to just train for the 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon? I have bigger fish to fry in 2013. I’m turning 30 for crying out loud.

One thing that the marathon taught me was that running, despite what I’d always thought, is not a single person sport. Running right and running your best, really requires a team. That can be your 5:30 pace team, your little sister or you husband. You have to have a support system, people you can share the good and bad with, who really get it. Blisters and all.

That’s why, when I decided to run 30 races in 2013 to celebrate my 30 years, I’m going to do it with others. Some of the races will be with my bests (Disney Princess Half!), some will be with my new friends (Army 10 Miler!) some of them will be with my heroes (Disney’s Spooky Trail Run 5k) and some will be with people I just met (5:30 pace group in Pittsburgh!) but each time it will be with people who get what I’m going through and will help carry me through.

Follow along at the link above to see which races I’m planning on. Let me know if you’re running them; maybe we can run together.


3 thoughts on “30 Races. 30 Years (Or How to Fail a Marathon)

  1. I admire you so much! I have always wanted to try running, but I am terrible at it. Five minutes in, and my breath is all wrong. The fact that you even attempted a full marathon is amazing to me. I’ll be pulling for you in 2013!!!

  2. You are a running rock star and there is no doubt in my mind that you will kick those races to the curb! Can’t wait for the Disney Princess! xoxo

  3. Pingback: Five Things Friday | LNRB for Miles

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