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.


17 comments :

  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 :-)

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  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.)

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  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!

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  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!

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  5. You are amazing! Such an incredible accomplishment!

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

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  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.

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

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

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  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 :)

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  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 :)

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

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  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!

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

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

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  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
    www.skinnedcartree.com

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

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