You Never Forget Your First Time

They say you never forget your first time; it’s one of those special moments that stays with you forever.

When asked are you ready, you cannot deny how prepared you are to do it.

When it begins, the feeling is magical. All the thoughts, images and feelings of what you imagined the moment would be like cannot compare. Your heart is beating so fast that you can barely think, and yet your body responds without deliberation, and the energy takes over.

After it’s full speed ahead, questions begin to pop into your mind. “Am I doing this right?” “How is my form?” “How will I feel after this?”

And then gradually the questions are abandoned as your body shows you that it knows the answers. With each movement, you are one step closing to finishing, that illustrious feeling of accomplishment; the climax of so much effort.

You build up to it. In spite of the sweat in your hair and the tension in your legs, you feel amazing. You feel ready to be rewarded and celebrated. You try to smile, but your breathing intensifies as you push to the end.

It’s a long climb, at times painful. During the first time, there is no doubt going to be pain. There may even be pain after, but it is temporary. As Bob Dylan once said, ““Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”

And then you reach that point, that point when you give it everything you have left. The momentum and the passion carry you forward. When you reach the finish, everything releases. You heart rate is still pounding and your hair is sticking to the back of your neck. Any lingering self doubt is erased as you bask in the glory of that end feeling. There is a rapid fire of emotions, and there is no holding back.

In those few minutes after it’s over, you think about all that has just happened. The pain and the endurance prove themselves to have been worth it. You feel a high unlike ever before and already your mind begins to wander about doing it again. After all, practice makes perfect.

All it takes is that first time to get you wanting more.

Crossing the finish line at your first marathon is just the beginning. Once you finish, there is no going back.

Feeling 22, Ready for 26.2

DSC_0005Yesterday as I was sifting through one of my notebooks during an office meeting, I found a list of my goals for 2014. Crafted at the start of the new year, I made a list of things I wanted to achieve and get in a habit of doing. In the midst of trying to cook three times a week (fail), read two books a month (some months were a fail), and heading to California (I made it kind of close), I wrote “Fall Marathon.”

And here I am, four days out from checking off that item.

At 22, I’m going to run a marathon. Continue reading

The Last Alarm

On Saturday morning my alarm rang for the last time at 6:25 A.M.

Since the end of the June, my alarm has gone off at the same time each Saturday morning. Only a few hours after most people my age go to bed after wild and crazy Friday nights, I woke up to do my own wild and crazy things.

At the beginning, it didn’t seem so crazy. Eight miles, ten miles; it didn’t sound so bad, Then it progressively got harder and harder. As the weeks passed, the temperatures also climbed with the mileage, By mid-August, SLR totals ranged in the middle teens. Waking up to run 14, 15 and 16 miles all before many of my friends even woke up became a common feat.

But even as the temperatures started to decline, the miles did not to do the same. So, like weeks past, I laced up my sneakers and headed to Fleet Feet for 16, 18 and 20-mile runs. But even with those runs successfully completed, this past weekend’s SLR might have been the hardest. Continue reading

This Thing I’m Doing in a Week

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.

I have 9 days until I’m supposed to run 26.2 miles. I’m ready for October 26th to be here already, but I’m also beginning to feel the nerves because of what I will do on that day.

Yes, will.

These past four months have been an emotional and fatiguing experience; yet it’s also been an uplifting and empowering journey of self-discovery. If you want to push yourself to the limits and see what you are capable of, sign up for a marathon.

Continue reading

18351.

In the classic novel Les Miserables, Jean Valjean, the story’s protagonist, is also known as 24601. His identification during internment, the number is a reminder throughout the novel of the pain and suffering the character experienced as punishment for his crime of stealing a loaf of bread.

I now also have my own self-identifying number, albeit one with a more positive association: 18351. It doesn’t have the same roll off the tongue sound that makes it perfect for a few musical notes, but it is the number that sums up everything I have been working towards for the past four months.

In less than two weeks, I will wear a bib reading 18351 and join nearly 30,000 others as we weave our way through Virginia and D.C. for 26.2 miles. As the day gets closer and closer, the anticipation is titanic.

Fellow runners in my training group ran the Chicago Marathon yesterday and while I could not have felt more inspired by all their posts and results, I also felt slightly jealous that I still have to wait until it’s my turn.

I just want it to be here already! Continue reading

When Life Gives You Lemons

IMG_1376“I believe when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade…and try to find someone whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.”

I heard that quote the other night at trivia. One of my coworkers knew the answer to the question asking which comedian is to credit for that line (Ron White). Trivia nights with him and other coworkers had become common, but after today they will no longer be co-workers.

Today is the last day at my current job, the end of one era and the beginning of another. Today, I leave economics and return to my passion of women’s advocacy and development. Today, I start running on a new path with an unknown ending. Continue reading

Two. Zero.

I did it.

I crossed the threshold.

For the first time ever, I saw a two in the tens digit of my miles on my GPS watch. And it felt amazing.

There was plenty of anxiety building up to this run. While I had managed my 18-miler after a week in Vegas and no running, the looming 20 felt different: it signaled a point in my training that said if you can do 20, then you can run a marathon.

I have heard that 18 miles is when marathon runners start to hit the wall; mile 20 is when the wall begins to tumble down. At that point, only 6 miles remain before completion of a full marathon. Only 6 miles. If you can run 20, then those last remaining miles (apparently) are nothing.

So Saturday became the ultimate test: how would my legs handle three hours of nonstop running? The answer, amazingly well!

As I ran with two other women in my training group, we kept talking about how we had ten miles to go, and then only ten miles back. Only, only, only. We paced the first ten miles on the Capital Crescent Trail slightly above a 9 min/mile pace, then on the ten back, we revved up the pace and managed to average miles under nine minutes. Even with the infamous Calvert Hill to tackle in the final mile, we never slowed down. We kept moving and powered upwards, taking only a beat to stop at the peak before a green light signaled us to keep running across the street.

Everything was in our favor on Saturday. The sun, not yet up when we began the trek, opened itself through the clouds and shimmered through the trees of the trail we paced along. A rain shower from the evening prior left fallen leaves wet and scattered along the path. Though they didn’t crunch under our sneakers, their presence signified fall‘s official status. There was sweat, of course, but the cool air and the autumn breeze made it a picture perfect (cliche) day, made even better by what was achieved all before 1030 AM.
 In less than three hours we had completed 20 miles. The accomplishment another example of how you can surprise yourself with your strength and power. Here I am, a woman with a running career (if you can even call it that) less than two years old, and I have four half marathons and a 20-mile PDR under my belt, and in less than three weeks I will be running the streets, hills and sights of D.C. and Virginia en route to finish my first marathon.

On Saturday, I completed 20 miles; the next time I see a number that high on my watch will be October 26. I can barely contain the excitement.