On Being Ready

In five days, I'll line up at the start line of the City of Oaks Marathon. And then I'll run 26.2 miles, up and over and down rolling hills, through a city that's not mine, toward a goal that I didn't even know I had just two short years ago. I don't know yet if I feel ready, but race day is coming either way.



This topic is sort of the epitome of Training for Tuesday. Not just because it's my most recent training goal, or because the marathon is such an "ultimate" race distance. It's not because the marathon distance is the end-all, be-all or anything like that.

It's because next Sunday is the culmination of everything I've been working toward for longer than I ever even realized I was working for it.


When I started running just shy of two years ago (on December 26, 2013), I didn't have the marathon in my sights. I'm sure there were at least a dozen occasions where I even said it wasn't for me, that I had no plans to ever run a marathon, that I didn't want to be one of those runners, that my idea of fun wasn't running for hours on end. I just wanted to be able to run a mile. And then I thought maybe I would want to run three. Point one. Just to see if I could.

So my first race—a 5k—came and went. And not long after, there came another few 5k races. And then one day in June I thought, hm, what if I signed up for a fall half marathon? See, that had never been part of the plan either. Until I started realizing that it could in fact be possible. I had seen my body become capable of things I never thought I would even want it to do, and on a wild hunch, I thought it might be capable of going 13.1 miles.

It was. And it wasn't long before I wanted to do it again. And it wasn't much longer before I wanted to go the longest distance I'll likely ever run. About 11 months ago, I let my mind go there for the first time: Could I run a marathon in 2015?

This Sunday won't just be the culmination of the last 17 weeks of training.

It's the culmination of 11 months of contemplating and considering the marathon. The culmination of 22 months of learning to run, learning to love to run, becoming a runner, and becoming a good runner. It's the culmination of every start line I've stepped up to, every finish line I've bounded over. Every cheering and smiling face I've run to from every finisher's chute.

Every training run that made me feel like I could fly. Every time I almost hit the wall and literally talked myself out of it. Every time I've thought to myself, "shut up, legs," every time I've demanded more from my body, every time I've dug deeper. Every shin splint, sore hip, creaky knee. Every tear shed on the road, every soak in Epsom salts, every ice bath. Every Friday night in, every 5 a.m. alarm, every Garmin chime, every blister, every bleeding toe, every skinned palm from an on-the-run wipeout.

But it's more than the training, and the running, and the recovery. Running has been the soundtrack to everything major and wonderful that's happened in the last two years. When I started running, I started changing. I started becoming stronger, more capable of everything—not just physically. I started becoming happier, healthier. More motivated. Less afraid. More passionate. Less vulnerable.

The road to 26.2 has been heaven and hell. It's been torture and elation. It's been motivating and deflating. But most of all, it's been earned. And if feeling like I've earned the right to stand on that start line is the closest I'll come to feeling ready to run a marathon this week, I guess I'll take it.
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I'd be remiss if I didn't take this moment on this little soapbox to say thank you to every one of you who has been so supportive, encouraging, and amazing since I started this journey what feels like ages ago. For every "good luck" and "you got this," for every time you've celebrated previous victories with me, for every text, comment, and tweet that's made me smile, thank you guys so much. I don't think I can fully convey what your encouragement has meant to me.
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Now enough about me. It's your turn to continue inspiring me (you do, all of you, so much and more than you know). We've got a shiny new Training for Tuesday button and room for everyone in this party. Grab a button below and link up with Tracy and me so we can see what you've been up to. And in case you need a refresher, get the details here. Thanks for joining us this and every month!
alyssagoesbang

Comments

  1. You've got this, lady! I'm proud and in awe of you. A marathon is something on my list, but have YET to try one. I know you are going to rock it out, I'm cheering you on from DC!

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  2. Whooooo!!! I love this! Awesome way to start my morning, with inspiring words. I can't believe you've only been running for 2 years. That's insane how much progress you've made! I don't know if I'll ever want to do a marathon, but this definitely inspires me to keep running and keep making small goals.

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  3. *slow clap* Beyond proud of you and your strength the past 22 months of learning to love the road. I'm excited to see how the completion of this big scary audacious goal leads to the next one!

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  4. I can clearly remember the exact 2 people that I told "I'll never run a marathon. That's just too long and too much for me". I remember the conversations, their faces, the time of day and where we were. Then something changed. I'm not sure what, but all of a sudden it didn't seem like that much of a leap from a half. Funny how that happens, right? Good luck this weekend!

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  5. I'm totally NOT crying right now. You are amazing and I love you and I can't wait to scream myself hoarse for you at the finish line of your first marathon. Not only did you earn this, you DESERVE it. You are seriously the strongest and most fantastic person I know. You are a daily inspiration.

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  6. Have you met Lara (www.cookiescardioandclothes.com/)? She's running the 1/2. I'm not sure why I didn't put that together until now.. but yeah, totally a thing. I guess I didn't realize you were doing the marathon in Raleigh and I'm not sure why (I think I'm secretly a blonde), even though I think I said something about Raleigh being my absolute favorite town. Either way. YOU GOT THIS AND YOU'RE GONNA RUN A MARATHON AND IT'S GONNA BE AMAZING!!

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  7. I think you're going to kick ass. While I have less than zero interest in running, I think it's a pretty amazing thing, running a full marathon. The amount of training and discipline it takes to get there is mind boggling. You totally got this!

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  8. I'm so pumped for you!! You're going to be amazing in this marathon!

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  9. love this post so hard! you are amazing, and so inspiring. i love how running impacts other areas of one's life. it's fabulous. you're gonna be a marathoner here soon! what!

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  10. You are SUCH an inspiration, you have no idea! I'm with you 100% and cannot wait to read about Sunday next week. I know you can do it, because you decided you can. Sending hugs *

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  11. Ahhhh the time is quickly approaching!!! You have been such an inspiration to watch you go from meh maybe I will run a 5K to a full out marathon in 2 years! All of your encouragement and stories you share about your runs and the other achievements (5k, 13.1, yoga) have meant so much to me. And I will once again shout to you YOU GOT THIS as you complete your marathon like a damn boss!

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  12. I'm already so proud of all that you have accomplished and know that you will absolutely rock this marathon! Also, I totally didn't realize it was in Raleigh, but my brother lives in Durham! Haha. If he's out and about I'm going to make him stop by the race and obnoxiously yell out 'GO ALYSSA GO' -- so if you hear a random kid screaming for you, just know it's coming from me, hahaha. <3 You're going to do amazing, friend!

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  13. Wow Alyssa, Best of luck this weekend in your first marathon! Sounds like you are more than prepared mentally and physically. My best advice is to hold back in the early miles when you're feeling great, stay relaxed and stay present...and smile! Don't forget why you're out there and to soak it all in. I can't wait to hear about it!

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  14. best of luck this weekend for your first marathon! you are going to rock it!

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  15. I love reading about your trek to becoming someone that loves to run! Listening/reading about people that love to run as much as I do warms my heart. I can't wait to hear how it goes!! I'm also curious to know what you will be working towards next? Have you said and I missed it? Curious minds want to know!

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  16. I'm really excited for you. It is awesome to work long and hard for something and have the day for it finally arrive. It's about the actual thing you're doing, but it is so much about the journey as you've written here.

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  17. I'm so excited for you and it's been so wonderful sharing this journey with you!! I can't wait for your recap! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  18. I promise promise promise that I read this on Tuesday and replied in my head! I just realized my reply never actually made it out of my head...:/
    I know you know that I completely relate to those feelings of not wanting to do something, and then to go from that to wanting to do it so fiercely. That's the part that makes the journey so much more rewarding. When it gets tough, remember this post. Remember all the milestones, all the good runs and the bad ones, all the times you wanted to quit but didn't. You have trained for this. You are ready, both physically and mentally.
    Thanks for taking us on this journey with you. It has been incredible to watch you learn and grow over the last year and a half and I can't wait to be there in person to celebrate your biggest triumph yet!

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