Today was the 49th running of the New York City Marathon. As I type this from my kitchen counter in Bonney Lake, Washington, it is obvious that I did not race the Big Apple today…however, watching large portions of it live on TV made me realize that yes, I am very interested in doing so.
But, let’s backtrack a bit.
I first learned of the World Marathon Majors around 2013, and even wrote a blog post about it. So, I started on my way, running Chicago via time-qualifier in 2014, Tokyo in by lottery in 2015, and of course, London this past April. Considering I took 2016 off completely for the 26.2 distance, and ran just one full marathon in 2017, I am pretty proud of my progress so far.
For some reason – unbeknownst to me – I’ve had this strange ambivalence toward the New York City Marathon (additionally, I’ve harbored an intense pet peeve reaction toward anyone referring to the race as the New York Marathon, but that’s for another day). I mean, I’ve been to New York City before and enjoyed it, but just didn’t GET it. I also blogged about this weird feeling two years ago. So, I mean, it’s a thing. But all of a sudden…
I was watching the streams of marathoners via overhead footage, running in/around Central Park, and it struck me. What has overwhelmed me about this race, I think, is the fact that it’s just SO BIG. Not only in participant numbers, of course, but moreso, a BIG FREAKING DEAL. Complicated transportation logistics, crowded course, overwhelming corral details, etc. – and I realized, I had felt similarly about London before I ran it. And you know what? I not only survived that, but I enjoyed it greatly!
In my 8+ years of marathoning (November 2011 was my first – Richmond, VA!), I’ve learned and changed so much. While I often still feel like such a newbie in this world of running and marathoning, I have to step back sometimes and realize that yes, in fact, my experience has been earned as well – and I love to share it.
When I first started training for the marathon, I thought checking off boxes, hitting exact mileage, and having a very strict regimen was the key to success. And for the first two marathons that may have worked! But then, I fell into the trap of feeling confident in my abilities, thusly “winging it” a bit too much, which cost valuable minutes off my finish times. So, I buckled back in, and trusted my training, and reaped that success on race day…only to fall back into that dreaded cycle again.
At the time, I felt like those races were failures, but looking back – they were clear signs of simple inexperience. I was simply racing too much and being much too impatient.
Here’s a breakdown of my marathons, by the year:
2012 – 4
2013 – 3
2014 – 3
2015 – 3
2016 – none (Abby was born in Dec 2015)
2017 – 2
2018 – none (Ellie was born in Feb 2018)
2019 – 2
So, I finally made my first marathon breakthrough in January 2017, 13-months postpartum, at the Celebration Marathon, where I ran a 3:40. Seeing it all broken down here, I have to imagine that the rest helped, as well as adapting lessons from my ups and downs through the years.
Now, if you’ve read this far, you may be screaming, “OKAY, great, but this post is supposed to be about LONDON, right? And yes, it is, but all of that preface I think puts things in proper context 🙂
This past April, I set forth to London, England – my very first trip to Europe, and my THIRD STAR on my journey to the World Marathon Majors. I was undertrained (longest run was marathon distance, at my similarly undertrained WDW Marathon), but energetic, optimistic about the experience, and nervous about every last detail that I thought I was underprepared for – transportation logistics, crowded course, overwhelming corral details – wha, wait!! Sound familiar? 😉 Yes! I was nervous about those things, but once I actually step foot on British soil, the joy and energy washed all negativity away, and I rode that wave through the entire marathon.
If you quizzed me now about the course, and about what exactly we saw along those kilometers, I’d VERY likely fail, but I can tell you this – I heard jubilant cheering, saw colorful charity banners, entertaining costumes, and experienced beautiful, cool weather the whole race through. I felt truly grateful for each step, and not once did I feel stress, pressure or pain – physically, or emotionally. I ran into a fellow charity runner on my fundraising team on the tube so I was never lost, followed the flow of people to the corrals and found my way, ran my own race, and celebrated in jolly style with my sister and friend Sarah!
Yes, this post is “about” London – but not just about that day. It’s about the many races along the way, and the many races yet to come. I used to think “having fun” or “staying healthy” were cop-out goals for the marathon, but I’ve come to realize that they have their place along the way, too. London taught me that celebrating is part of growing, and that each step we take will in fact bring us closer to finding what’s next.