The year is 2013. By now I have been running a couple years, and have completed a few races. The longest run of my life up until this race was about 11 miles on dirt.
Yes, 11 miles.
Plus the months leading up to this race I had been running very little.
This perhaps sounds like the recipe for disaster to you. And, maybe it was!
But, I signed up for the race in early 2013, and I was not going to not run this race. If you say you’re going to do something, you do it. Right?
I was bull-headed. Stupid perhaps.
But, I ran the race.
It was glorious. The feeling of finishing my first marathon was nothing short of miraculous.
The crew at Des Plaines River Trail Marathon (DPRT) was great at motivating you to continue. There was food on the course that I kept eating. And eating. God, running makes you really hungry!
The DPRT course was great, too. Very scenic, and flat. Very, very long.
26.2 miles, in fact.
There is something funny about combining the fall beauty and changing of colors, with the misery of running a marathon without training for it.
I remember passing the half marathon point (there were people on the course running half the distance as me), and I remember thinking: what the hell am I doing? There’s no way I can run this far. I should turn around now.
But, I didn’t. I said I was going to do something. And I was doing it.
I ran, and ran, and ran.
There were people running 50 miles at this race, too. I couldn’t even think about digesting that. All I knew is that they were very fit, and very fast. Many 50-mile finishers finished their race before I did. Yes, they lapped me. And, it was wonderful! I reveled in their amazing talent. They encouraged me to keep running. I did the same for them (we both said “great job,” and “keep it up,” and stuff like that … pretty encouraging to have great runners like that encouraging you to finish).
I was walk-running from the beginning, and had planned on doing so. Towards the end, the walking started becoming just as painful as the running. My legs hurt. Everything hurt.
I thought I was doing fine until about mile 21. That’s when the shit started to get real. That’s when I had to start using my mind to conquer this race. It was rough.
Don’t get me wrong, mile 3 through 21 were not extremely pleasant, either. But, I didn’t really think I was going to die. My body didn’t feel like it was trying to stop working. I needed that burger, bad.
The last stretch of dirt, I could hear the bells ringing, and the people screaming.
I ran. No chance to stop and walk. It was all nearing to an end.
I was about to eat a burger. I kept telling myself food was near. That motivated me.
I kept running, and FINISHED my first marathon!
It was miraculous.
I got home and slept for close to 13 hours straight.
I was sore.
But, I did it!
I remember seeing some people on the course, who were behind me, that were extremely motivating. Some of these people were walking mostly. Some were morbidly obese. But, they were finishing their marathon! They had the same dream as me. And, they were doing it! It was amazing…
I finished in just under 7 hours. Finishing quickly was never my goal. Just finishing, was.
I remember driving to work the next Monday, thinking to myself the amazing feat I had accomplished. I had done it! And, it was amazing.