Only crazy people run marathons. I mean, this is a fact, right? Who, in their sane mind, would submit themselves to so many hours of torture? Who would find joy in this? Those marathoners are crazy.
I have become crazy.
I’ll admit to it, I’ve always been a runner. I love speed. Give me a field, a time goal, and step back. But running long distances, like more then 5 miles? Uh, noooooo. When I was 18, I was forced to log my mileage for college ball and so, begrudgingly, started bringing my mileage up. At the end of a long summer of training, the team members were given a 2.5 mile all-out test. I did manage to do an impressive 14:27 but never thought much of it. I was a sprinter. Long distances were torture and boring. My philosophy had always been, unless there was a ball involved, I’m was not running far.
Something happened to me that summer of training. I don’t know how or why but during my first year of college, I started running a lot. I would run morning, afternoon, at midnight sometimes. I would run whether I had soccer practice or a game, for 1-3 hours at a time. Snowing? It’s ok…there goes Becky. Pitch dark? No problem because the streets have lights! Water? Nah, I don’t need that. No watch, no training chart, no reason except I needed to run. I would run fast, slow and every pace in between. I ran how I wanted. I was free.
The years went by and life happened. Marriage, children, and work all blossomed, taking away much of the time I used for running. My shoes remained untouched for months on end. One day, after my youngest of four had turned two years old, I picked up my shoes again. I did a mile and thought I would die. A few days later, I ran/walked my way to 3 miles. I could do this. Within a month, I was going out for an hour or more. My husband asked me how far I was running and I couldn’t tell him. Who cares anyway? He did care and loaned me his watch for my next run. I ran 8 miles. Randy turned around and bought me my own watch immediately. I’m not sure he realized what was about to happen.
That first day, with my own watch, I spontaneously ran 16 miles up the mountain and home again. I was sore but laying in my ice bath, I was happy as a clam. This mileage thing was FUN! Within a few weeks, I did another long run. I was aiming for 18 miles but when I got to that number, I decided I needed to understand the crazy people. I needed to do a marathon. I kept running. 20, 21, then 22 miles…I felt like I was trying to move through cement. I had entered the Bonk Zone. I started laughing like a lunatic. This is all that everyone is scared of? This wasn’t so bad! I’d experienced way worse in my life and in sports. F’ off bonk ‘cause I’m moving on through!
I negative split the last three miles of the 27. I’d done it. I’d joined the few that ever dared to run a marathon. There was no t-shirt or medal at the end of my marathon. No one would ever care but me. I had done this all for myself, embracing every moment of that run, owning up to the pain, adding on unexpected mileage, and transcending my previous self in the process. I was hooked. I could run further! Marathoning wasn’t any kind of elite club but something anyone could do.
We are the crazy people.
My next long run was up a mountain for over 28 miles on a date with my husband. As we both stood in the cold creek at the end of a long day, I knew I needed to go further.
This summer will be my first attempt at a 100 mile distance. I’ve run more marathons in training then I can count. I’ve moved from a solid field sprinting athlete to an endurance junkie. I’ve joined the group of super freaks called ultra marathoners, those of us who dare to run/walk/crawl our way past the traditional marathon distance into the unknown. For us, there is no stopping point. There is no end to what we can do.
I’ve found my wings.