One Year a Marathoner

Yesterday was a big day for me. Or, more accurately, a year ago yesterday was a big day for me. On January 18th, 2014 at 12:51pm, I crossed the finish line of my first marathon. I was instantly and forever changed.

If that sounds dramatic, maybe you aren't a runner?

I didn't start running to run a marathon. I started running to maybe one day run a 5k. Maybe. I never dreamed I'd run a marathon. I mean that in the most literal sense - I really never thought I'd run a marathon, because a marathon was something I never thought about at all. A few months after I started running, I thought maybe I'd eventually run a half marathon, but a full was never, ever, ever in the picture. Never part of the plan. Never something I had any delusions of doing.

And yet somehow I found myself on an unseasonably cold South Carolina day, 26.2 years old, running through the city where I was born toward a finish line I never thought I'd see. It's hard to believe it's been a year - sometimes it feels like yesterday, other times it feels like an eternity. There's something about those 26.2 miles that makes a marathon so much more than a race, so much more than a distance covered on foot. 26.2 miles is a long way. It's hours of war waging between the body and mind. It's excruciating. It's exhilarating.

For all the non-dreaming I did about my first marathon, I could never have dreamed of a more perfect experience. My training was magical. The race itself was everything I imagined it would be. It was a gorgeous (albeit windy) day, I paced myself beautifully, and I was just…happy. Tired, sure, but happy. Looking back on that day, that's what I remember: happiness.

I remember waking up the morning of the race to find all my nerves suddenly calmed, because the day I had been anticipating for months had finally arrived.

I remember finding out that morning that my dad would be joining me for the first 10 miles as he ran the half.

I remember the way the sun, barely risen, looked as we ran along the Charleston Harbor through the historic Battery.

I remember leaving my dad just past the 10 mile marker, saying our goodbyes with tears in our eyes and knowing how proud he was of me.

I remember seeing my family for the first time at mile 18, holding signs with my name on them and cheering for me.

I remember mile 25.5, so close to the end that I could actually hear the race announcer in the distance, when a man standing on the side of the road looked me straight in the eye, nodded, and told me, "Well done."

I remember crossing the finish line, incredulous and relieved and proud that I had actually done it, and suddenly being bombarded with hugs from people I love.

I want to remember every single detail of that day and those surrounding it, the good and the bad (and oh, there were bad). But when I look back, the overwhelming memories I have are the good ones. The joy, the pride, the happiness. Things that I can take with me for the rest of my life. Because no matter what else I do in life, this I can carry with me forever: I am a marathoner.


  1. What a magical day! I agree the day I ran my marathon is one I will never forget.
    Love your wonder woman shirt too :-)

  2. I may or may not have tears in my eyes right now. Whatever. Tracy, congratulations on not only that amazing victory a year ago but every incredible feat you've tackled in the year since — not to mention all the challenges you faced to make it to that day (at least I know what a portion of those must've felt like). Like you, a marathon was never part of me becoming-a-runner plan, it was all about *maybe* being able to make it across the 5k finish line. But something about racing even once can change a person. I know I tell you all the time, but knowing you as a runner and as a person is so inspiring to me day after day and I'm so encouraged and awed by what you've been able to do on those two legs. Congrats again, friend.
    (PS: WHO LOOKS THAT GOOD after 26.2 miles? Ugh, I'd hate you if I didn't like you so much.)

  3. Happy Marathoniversary! I love hearing other people's stories about never ever dreaming of running a marathon, and then achieving that unknown goal. I have to admit, I was in the "never ever" camp. Until I decided to sign up for one. It's still about 9 months out, and there are definitely days that I think "What am I doing? I'm struggling with running 4 miles on my treadmill! How am I ever going to run 26.2!" So I will just live vicariously through you and others like you. Congrats!

  4. Happy anniversary of your first marathon!! I think that completing one is just incredible and something I dont ever know if I could do myself, but it is just magical reading about other peoples stories. Congrats!

  5. You are amazing! Such an incredible accomplishment!

  6. This just gave me cold chills... I love your first marathon went so well for you!!! you are a ROCK STAR!!

  7. i seriously am teary right now. i love this so much. i really don't think i'll ever run a marathon, but i do know i certainly never thought i would even run a half marathon, so who knows. that video of you crossing the finish line is pure awesomeness. congrats on being a marathoner - you're so awesome and such an inspiration.
    i don't mean to throw back to my 2012 half yet again, but the way you described this race is how i felt on that race. i woke up in the morning so calm, no worries at all, i was just going to run it. i'd had a disappointing run a few weeks prior so i was over putting pressure on myself, and it's like it all melted away. i remember being happy. i don't remember any of the bad things, i'm sure there were some, but i just remember overall being comfortable and happy. thats a good place to be.

  8. That's so cool you got a video of it! It really is such a special day.

  9. Congratulations on your marathon anniversary! What a special date.

  10. Happy Marathon Anniversary. So nice that you have video of your finish and so nice that you were able to run the first 10 miles with your dad :)

  11. Nice job! I like this date because it's the day I got married :)

    I remember my first full marathon too. I remember getting to mile 18 and thinking for a split second, "Yes! I'm nearly done!" Then I did the math and was like, holy cow... I have nearly 10 more miles left. At mile 25.5, I started sprinting. I wanted to do whatever it took to be DONE running. So I sprinted that last part like I was back in high school running a 100 meter race. And promptly nearly passed out at the finish line :)

  12. I loved reading this! That's so cool that your marathon was such an awesome experience -- and I love your Wonder Woman shirt!

  13. I read this at work yesterday during lunch so I couldn't comment but then I thought about it on my run yesterday and then forgot to comment last night soo here I am a day late haha. I loved reading this. As someone who has yet to experience her first marathon, it made me all giddy and nervous and excited to do one - hopefully someday! I feel like right now it seems SOO daunting that I just chicken out about actually registering for one so one of these days I'm gunna put my big girl pants and just do it!

  14. Love this! I would love to be able to call myself a marathoner, but I do NOT want to train for one. :P

  15. Congrats girlie. Love this soo much it was so touching. Like the poetry of running sighs. :)

  16. I'm with Alyssa with the tears on my eyes. It's such an amazing thing to do and I remember how proud and emotional I felt after finished 10k races, I think I would be an emotional wreck at the end of a marathon haha.

    It's such an amazing thing to be able to do and I'd love to have the strength to do it one day. It's a massive commitment with the amount of training needed to do to complete one.

    So glad you had such a great experience and it's sweet that your Dad ran the first 10 miles with you!

    Corinne x

  17. I loved reading this!! I remember my first one well, an unforgettable experience for sure!!


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