16 weeks ago I kicked off my training my running 10 miles in Centennial Park. It was miserable, but mostly because it was freezing, the thigh high socks I was wearing underneath my running tights for added warmth kept slipping, and my boyfriend had broken up with me only the previous day. After it was over, as I stood on top of a snow-covered hill overlooking the lake, I remember wondering how on earth I would ever be able to finish 20 miles, let alone an entire marathon. At that point, the longest I had ever run was 14 miles and that had largely been by mistake. But before I knew it the months had passed and my long run mileage had crept steadily upwards until, at long last, I was running the dreaded 20 miles. Even more surprising was the fact that I made it through alive. And not just once, but twice! Indeed, the 18- and 20-milers were far less painful that I had imagined that they would be. Much more painful were some of 10- and 15-milers that I ran on the 'easy' weeks, some of which left me in tears on the way back.
Tomorrow I leave for Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, to run my first marathon on Sunday. I haven't been this excited/nervous since I tested for my black belt in Tang Soo Do at age 13. Even my first half marathon last August did not evoke such a strong mixture of emotions. Perhaps it was because my Mum accompanied me to the race? Who knows? Either way, I am terrified. I've been listening to upbeat songs all day (I won't be running with my ipod during the race) and looking at inspiring quotes. My favorite: 'If you are going through hell, keep going' -Winston Churchill.
I do not know how well I will do on Sunday. I have promised my Mum that I won't ruin her Mother's Day by requiring hospitalization or dying, so survival seems to be my baseline goal for the day. I would ideally like to do a bit better than that, but I'll take what I can get. What I do know, however, is that there are several people without whose support I would not have made it this far.
My parents: I may complain a lot about running/the marathon a lot on this blog, but, believe me, my parents hear about it a lot more. It would have been so easy to tell me to shut up or to quit if it was so tough (which, to be fair, they did say once or twice), but the majority of the time they kept things in perspective for me and provided the necessary motivation that I needed to get out and run again. Neither of my parents quite understands why I would want to do this since they are not runners, but they have continued to support me through some of my lowest points, especially this past semester. Moreover, they have plied me repeatedly with Jif peanut butter, without which I would never have been able to make it through this. (Seriously.) Thank you. (And I'll try not to die!)
Granddad and Nana: My grandparents read this blog more frequently than anyone else, my own parents included. Their support has been unconditional and this has meant the world to me.
Alex: I've said it once and I'll say it again - Alex rocks. Perhaps the most modest person I know, he has been there for me on numerous occasions, providing a listening ear when I needed to vent or offering much-needed advice. Words cannot sress how much I've appreciated this. (And, let's face it, I've been something of an emotional mess this past semester after all that has happened.) I know that a blog shout-out doesn't exactly carry the same weight as a Facebook one, but I hope my gratitude comes across. (And thanks for not going off to the Air Force until we have time to have a movie marathon and run in the Rebel Race - where you are not going to die!)
My cross country team-mates: (Who I am pretty sure don't actually read this, but whom I will thank anyway): The first running group that I have ever actually been a part, I would never have trained as hard as I did without the help of these lovely individuals. Thank you for the hard training sessions, pushing me during races, and helping me to achieve some of my personal bests. Oh, and for eating the food that I cooked. :)
My blog readers: To everyone who stops by my little corner of the internet(s) and reads whatever nonsense I have posted that day - thank you. It is always encouraging to see my 'visitor counter' increase over the course of a day. I know that much of what I post isn't all that interesting to the majority of the world, but thank you for stopping by all the same.
Last, but not least, Drew: (Also pretty sure that he does not read this blog, but I figure that the message will get passed along somehow): Even though things definitely did not turn out how I expected or would have liked, I cannot discount the role that he has played in getting me to this point. When I first met my runner ex-boyfriend in the fall of 2009, I had only ever run one race and didn't really intend to run another. I ran, yes, but on the treadmill at the gym. But after meeting him and seeing how hard he trained, how passionate he was about running, I decided to try another race. And then another. Although it was a long time before we ever ran together, he came out to races to support me and put up with the myriad of injuries (and the moaning that accompanied them) that occurred along the way. When I announced my intention to run a half marathon (and, later, the marathon) he never once told me that I couldn't do it. Indeed his faith in me was always, strangely, absolute. He was, and continues to be, a source of inspiration. Over the time that we dated, I saw how hard he worked, how devoted he was to his team and training, and how he muscled through even the toughest races with little complaint. When times have gotten tough during my own training, I've remembered the fortitude that he displayed and seek to emulate it (often unsuccessfully - I complain far too much.) And so, even though we are no longer together, I must express my thanks to him. Without his support..I couldn't have done this. I wish him all the best in his future.
Anyway, that is it for me until Sunday night/Monday, depending on how my physical state of being is when I return to London. I'll be back at Marylebone station by 6pm on Sunday, but I'm allowing myself 2 hours to get from the train station to the Tube station. I think it's only a matter of going down a few flights of steps, but since I haven't timed my speed whilst crawling (don't particularly imagine that the legs are going to want to work by that point), I am going to be generous in my estimations. And then there is the matter of walking the quarter mile from Borough tube station to my flat...ouch.
The next time I write, I'll be a marathoner! (Biggest perk: being able to stick a 26.2 sticker on my car when I come home in 12 days.)