This Rookie’s Ramblings is a weekly blog sponsored by RunVermont and the Green Mountain Running Medicine Shop column written by one Vermont resident training for the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon. The 2013 Rookie will be selected from a pool of 5 finalists. We’re posting one entry a day through Tuesday, January 22. Cast your vote for your favorite Rookie beginning Wednesday, January 24 on our Facebook page.
The KeyBank Vermont City Marathon is my first marathon, and I am terrified. I live in Burlington and am very familiar with these roads, sidewalks, and the marvelous bike path. I am not familiar, however, with the pain of over 26 miles. The slow road (pun certainly intended) to becoming a bona fide runner began with sprinting, so the long haul to 26.2 is nothing short of daunting. The initial decision to sign up for the marathon was an impulse brought on by fleeting ambition and a half eaten cannoli staring back at me, shaming me with his delightfully delicious sprinkles. Of course, the comments from my students (I teach High School English) helped, too.
Having competed in two half marathons and the Tough Mudder, I feel like I have a solid repertoire for a beginner marathoner. I’ve been in the high-pressure intensity of competitions before and have had some practice with pacing and training. I quickly forget that, however, when blindsided by the subtle, kind comments from my teenage students: “YOU can run that far?” “You don’t seem that tough!” “Really?” And my favorite, a student who sought me out in school to ask if it was true, that I had competed and run for that long and that far: “I didn’t think she [the student’s friend] was telling the truth! But I guess if you can do it then I should sign up! It can’t be that bad!” Teaching: Not for the Thin Skinned.
I’ve been a runner in some capacity all my life, starting with backyard sprinting races between my brothers and sister, “timed” by my father (we took the competition seriously of course, which brought all sorts of amusement to our Dad). I grew up playing sports so running was always incorporated, but it wasn’t until college that I looked at running differently. I had gained the dreaded “Freshmen Fifteen” and no longer played sports year round. Running was my “drug of choice.”
I ran my first half marathon in the bitterly cold late fall of 2010 and my second in the sweltering heat of July 2011. Both felt like gargantuan accomplishments, but left me feeling like I could do better next time, or go bigger next time. The competition festering in my brain and feet was intensified by these experiences, and for perhaps the first time in my life, I was competing only with myself. It’s amazing how powerful we are, and how you can just as easily be your biggest champion and ally and your worst critic. The latter seems truer for me lately, so I’m looking ahead into 2013 hoping I can rally myself up to the task.
The last year KO’ed the heck out of me, and signing up and beginning training for this marathon is my first step at feeling accomplished and happy. I rather traumatically lost my father last year and soon after my sister got into a horrific accident that almost took her life. Long story short, she miraculously recovered despite all odds and very blunt statements from doctors, and she’s my Maid of Honor in my summer 2013 wedding. This brings me to my next point: sweating for the wedding! What better way to get in shape for my wedding day than running a marathon? My sister and the rest of my bridesmaids have all agreed to run the marathon with me! It’s our perhaps extreme way of bonding and celebrating- our version of a bachelorette party. And so, with so many people supporting me, I can’t become my own worst enemy, because it’s no longer just about me. I’m running this marathon to get fit and in shape, to lose weight (cannolis seem like great friends when you’re grieving, but are nothing short of health terrorists), bond with my bridesmaids, quiet my teenage critics, and most importantly to accomplish something for myself I’ve been slowly jogging toward for several years. Everyone’s familiar with the age-old wisdom “you can’t run from your problems” but in a way that’s exactly what I’m doing- I think running is the very solution to my problems. So quiet down, Critics, and eat my dust…. or the slight breeze I create as I run slowly by.