A Trip to Treasure

I had given up on the plan to run the Disney World Marathon a couple of months ago when we decided to take a volunteer position here in North Carolina. Driving all the way down to Florida for a run seemed a little excessive, so I decided that I would just try again another year.

Until…

My friend, Carolyn, said she was driving down there to visit her family anyway, so why didn’t we just go together? I turned her down at first, thinking it too inconvenient for her, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

Kitty at Carolyn's sister's house

Kitty at Carolyn’s sister’s house

And so last week she came to pick me up, and we went down together.

I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and all the stories she shared with me. Her family was so nice and it was really neat to meet them, especially after hearing so much about them all. She showed me all around her home town and the swamp, black water and cypress knees, which I had never seen before. She shared so many special places with me, and I was so grateful that she took me along.

Cypress knees

Cypress knees

And of course, we made it down to Disney World for the marathon. Carolyn was so good to me. She dropped me off at the start at 4am, which was not easy for either of us, and she was there waiting for me at the finish line. She drove three hours further south than she would have had she only been visiting her family, not to mention dealing with the traffic that the marathon weekend brought to Disney World. And she did it all for me.

Disney World Marathon

Disney World Marathon

We arrived home last night after a six day adventure. It doesn’t seem like it should be over already, but then vacations always go by too fast. I guess that is what makes us treasure them so…

Fox Valley Marathon

Well, I did it. I am officially a marathoner! I could not have asked for a more amazing experience.

The weather was absolutely perfect, cool enough for a sweatshirt in the morning, but warm enough to take it off before the race even started. It warmed up as the day went on, but not too much. The course was a little crowded in the beginning, but eventually the half-marathon and marathon routes split, so it was not too crowded at all on the trails.  

The crowd along the course was spectacular, cheering for everyone as they ran by. Their signs were great. Even the chalk writings on the sidewalk were fun to read. There was everything from “You Rock, Runner!!” to “Don’t Stop Now!”, followed almost immediately by “That’s what she said!” My favorite signs were “Run faster… I just farted!” and “Marathon runners never die, they just smell like it!”

The course, as promised, was relatively flat, scenic and shady. I took pictures along the way, determined to remember as much about this day as possible. 

I didn’t really have a time goal in mind, but I knew what I could expect to finish in. 5 hours was realistic, so I lined up behind the 4:45 goal pacer. Eventually, though, I lost contact with the pacer and was running my own race. I had read too many stories about people who forgot to enjoy the experience because they were so focused on time, and I was not going to allow myself to be in that group. Especially not in my first marathon. So, I just ran. And looked around. Read signs. Took pictures. And I loved it. Every. Single. Minute. Of course, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t envious of the half-marathoners at the 13.1 mile mark…

In the end, it took me 5 hours, 8 minutes and 50 seconds to cross the finish line. I wasn’t fast at all, but I finished. And, since this was my first official marathon, I set a Personal Best. How could I possibly complain about that?    

Time to Run!

I am sitting in my hotel room right now, anxiously awaiting the start of my marathon tomorrow. William and I arrived yesterday after an 840 mile, 14+ hour journey. The last 40 miles alone took us a little over two hours to complete. I had never seen so many cars in one place in my life, let alone at a stand still on the freeway. Every road coming and going was barely moving, which was amazing considering it was only 1:00 in the afternoon.

We are actually in St. Charles, about 30 miles or so from Chicago. The starting line for tomorrow’s run is just over a mile from the hotel and I know right where I need to go. I gathered all of my gear today and have my morning all planned out. I think I am ready for this. I have been training for this for a long time and I am ready to run. Less than 12 hours to go!

Time to Run

I finally realized that I cannot wait for the conditions to be perfect. They never will be. All I can do is get out there and do my very best. Give 100% of myself. If it works out, perfect. If not, well at least I tried, and I will not have any room for regret.

What on earth am I talking about? I have absolutely no idea. But I wanted to share something with you. Something that makes me certifiably crazy and completely alive at the same time.

I signed up for my first marathon!

My original plan was to run the Chicago Marathon in October, but I think it will be too crowded, and I do not do well in crowds, especially by myself. So I began searching for a smaller marathon that happens around the same time. If I plan it right, it will take place right in between our summer and fall jobs, giving us the travel and recovery time needed.

What I found was the Fox Valley Marathon in St. Charles, Illinois. A beautiful course that winds along the river in a suburb of Chicago. They only allow 2,900 runners, so it will be quiet, and it is also ranked as a good race for first-timers because of the frequent aid stations, not to mention it is flat. I could not find a single bad review, so I signed myself up.

September 22, 2013

7 am (Ouch! I am not even sure this is legal…)

This is it. I am going to do it. My 35th birthday present to myself: a heart attack in the streets outside of Chicago. Sign me up. Oh wait, I already did!!!

IMG_0500 marathon

My feet have several thousand meetings scheduled with the dirt on a trail not
far from here.  Who am I to keep them waiting?  Time to run.  ~Jeb Dickerson

Weekly Photo Challenge: Resolved

There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my
life.  But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a
saint.  So, too, are you.  Find your own play, your own self-renewing
compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be.  ~George Sheehan

IMG_0457 resolve

It is not a resolution, it is a life’s dream put into motion. I will run a marathon. It may not happen this year, or even next, but it will happen. My goal is to be ready for it when the time comes…

I always loved running… it was something you could do by yourself, and under
your own power.  You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted,
fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the
strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.  ~Jesse Owens

The Road to Chicago

They say that if you want to accomplish something, you must first write it down, otherwise it becomes lost among the many things you may or may not get around to doing. While I have no idea exactly who they are, I do agree that writing things down increases their chance of becoming reality.

I love running. I’m quite obsessed with it actually. I have done my share of running, a stint in high school track, a fun-run here and there, Bloomsday. But I have never seriously trained for anything. Even Bloomsday was a little more difficult than it needed to be. I never took my training as seriously as I should have. I had too many easy days, too many missed runs. I let myself take it easy when what I really needed to do was push it. I was a slacker, and I paid for it. But I made it, and crossing the finish line was thrilling. An addictable high. A feeling I wanted to experience again and again. That was a year and a half ago.

It is time to train for another race.

Running a marathon has always been on my Someday List. 26.2 miles of pure insanity, and yet every inch of me is desperate to do it. But every year I put it off. I come up with a new excuse as to why I am not out there running with the rest of the them. Then I sit at home, wishing that I were.

So I guess I have two options. I can either sit back and watch all the runners, wishing I were one of them, or I can actually get out there and join them. I guess I am getting brave in my old age, because I have decided to join them. So here are the questions floating around inside this big empty head of mine. Do I have it in me to seriously train for a marathon? Do I have enough confidence in myself and my abilities to accomplish such a race? Have I dreamt of it long enough to finally be able to dedicate myself 110% to making it a reality? The surprising answer to all three of these questions is… yes. Yes. I can do it. I know I can.

But, if I fail to set a date, pick a target race and get myself registered, I know that I will put it off for another year. And then another, until eventually I find myself regretting never getting around to it. I cannot allow that to happen. I need a goal. A time frame. So which race? There are so many marathons, how do I go about choosing one?

I looked at multiple lists of marathons recommended for beginners, and the Chicago Marathon was on every one. It is known for being fast and flat, and while I don’t care much about the fast part, I am very excited about the flat. It also has no qualifying time, so anyone can register. October 13, 2013. A little less than a year away. Time enough to train but not so far out that I will lose steam or put off training. Registration is not yet open, but it will be soon. Will my name be on the list? Yes, I am almost certain that it will be.

Rob and I have run races together, but he is going to sit this one out, partly because he thinks (knows) I have completely lost my mind, and partly because he knows how much time and dedication the training will take. This is not going to be easy, so he and the kids are going to be my cheering squad. They will be the ones who push me out the door when I really don’t feel like it. The ones who drag me out of bed when I want desperately to sleep. The ones who will keep me going, even when I am ready for a rest. I know for a fact, even at this early stage just prior to training, that I will not be able to do it without them.

I am not expecting a time fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which would be 3:40 for my age group, but I do hope to finish within the course limit time of 6:30:59. Mostly, I just want to finish. I want to accomplish something I have always dreamt of. I want to prove to myself that I really can do it. At the very least, I will be able to cross an item off of my Someday List, and even if I never want to run another mile, at least I will not have to live with the regret of never having tried.