Well, I did it. I ran 26.2 miles.
26.2 miles doesn't come naturally.
Especially for someone who hasn't been able to run since 2012. The doctors continuously told me, "No, you need xyz operation and injection," after a while I definitely learned to believe them. Because if I ever rebelled and bothered to try to run, I'd end up bedridden for a month with a swollen knee. So, over time, I just kind of let myself forget about running. I guess I just accepted the fact that for the rest of my life I would never run again and I'd always be 'that injured knee girl.' While I say I became comfortable with that identity... I clearly wasn't. Because it was not until I crossed that finish line that I felt like an athlete again.
By not a single physician's advice but a COACH, I spent a solid year (2016) solely focusing on making strength, muscle symmetry, and correct movement patterns a top priority. I stopped thinking about everything I could not do and just focused on the things I could do correctly. I built myself back up- brick by brick. Then to my surprise, there came a point where the days began to add up where the pain in my knee was nonexistent. I was moving in ways I had not done in years. So January of this year, I got that itch to give running another try. Only this time, it resulted in no pain. So I tried it again. And again...no pain. Shortly after realizing that I eradicated my 6-year knee problem, I decided to set myself a goal. A goal of completing a marathon. (*Cue the moment that every doc, physical therapist, and close friends and family scold me with their concern and doubt*)
So, given the massive chip on my shoulder, I wouldn't call my months of training 'easy'... but I definitely had a serious 'I'm doing this' advantage. I was so grateful for every step I took that the demanding hours of training didn't grow too weary on me like they do others.
However, what did become challenging was the nags, pains, and health effects everywhere else that came along with it. I was not used to running being in my regular workout routine! I did everything I could to still get gym workouts and yoga in (the things I enjoy), but as my mileage began to creep up (this conveniently also lined up with a very big stressful job transition), I could feel the negative effects all of this 'activity stress' was having on my body. All ego aside, trying "to do it all" will land you in over-training territory much faster than you think! I did not want to accept it, but I began experiencing symptoms like restless sleeps, mood irritability, out of whack appetite and digestion, lack of recovery, my performance suffered, hormone imbalances...it started getting messy. Before things got out of hand, I made the hard decision of choosing to listen to the signals my body was telling me and I took quite a few weeks before my race really, really easy. Biggest rookie mistake I made was ignoring that cold hard truth-- Sometimes doing LESS is MORE. I was not about to let myself miss out on reaching this goal. I altered my routine by making recovery, wellness and proper diet my #1 priority and put exercise in the back seat. Because again, my goal was just to complete a marathon... not win it. And by this point I had enough of an endurance base and muscle strength that, in theory, "I could do it" it was just a matter of making sure I did not cause more harm than good.
Even though dialing it back was 'the right thing to do'- coming to this point was uncomfortable for me. I definitely was not my happiest self only focusing on what's best in order to be a successful runner. I felt like I was in time-out! And it definitely made me nervous scaling myself back so much from physical activity far out from my race.
However, post race, I can say with certainty that this was the smartest decision I made in all of my training.
My goal going into this was just to complete the race, no time expectations... just finish. I had only been seriously running for under 4 months. But not only on race day did I end up RUNNING from start to finish, but I placed under top 20% overall with a time of 4:24:24. This race had over 600 participants.
I have trouble putting into words how incredibly rewarding this experience has been for me. I do not think in my lifetime I will ever go through something as self gratifying, life changing, and encouraging as the moment crossing that finish line was for me.
Since the day I committed to take on this beast, there was a fire lit inside of me like I had never had before. I knew before I even began my training that completing this race was going to mean SO much more to me than just a distance. I didn't set out to do this just to check it off my bucket list, I set out to do it to prove to myself that I am more than my past says I am.
And It all started with setting a goal. I stopped looking back at my life and chose to only look forward. I did whatever it took. Where there is a will, there is a way.
This is me sharing my story of how I conquered my impossible. I want all of you to never, ever sell yourself short of anything. Build your house brick by brick- just like I built mine. Set your goals. Believe in yourself. And go crush your impossible. I promise you... there is truly no better feeling in the world.