I ran my first marathon in January. I trained for almost two years and the day arrived quickly. Below is a crash course on my experience and what I learned six months later.

I discovered that people who aren’t athletes run marathons because they have been through shit. We are control freaks who refuse to accept pain inflicted on us so we find something just as painful to become involved in. Something that will allow us to convert whatever pain we feel into self-victory.

Mile per Mile

Mile 1- 13 was exciting. My body was comfortable because I was used to this distance. I have a few half marathons under my belt therefore I was familiar with the course.

Mile 14 came around, my legs started to become heavy but I was still taking in the Houston scenery. By mile 18, I could feel every single little hip movement. Mile 19, I started feeling every little pain and ache from the top of my head all the way down to my toe nails. Mile 20 came; Mile 20 was enlightening. My body became my most valuable possession (it was just me, myself and I) and I began talking to it like I’ve never talk to it before. “I promise to never to call you ugly or belittle you ever again.” I gave my body permission to quit. Mile 20 was my longest mile. I thought of my daughter, and the kind of childhood I wish for her. I cried. I thought of my husband and wondered if we would ever let go of each or finally commit to our marriage. I thought of my sister and wished her peace and happiness. I even thought I saw her running next to me a couple times. I thought of my dad and thanked him for making me who I am. I know he is very proud of me. My body refused to quit so we kept running.

Mile 21 came and I started desperately searching for my running mate Tracy. She is much taller and faster than me so I decided she probably had already finished. I saw the Pace Maker for 6 hours (Person carrying a sign with a specific finishing time). I panicked and feared not receiving a medal if I didn’t finish at 6 hours. I started speeding up but my legs were officially numb from the pain. I couldn’t tell if I was speeding up. My body was running on mind power only. Mile 22, I started crying again, I started thinking of my friends and reading texts of encouragement. I was feeling every emotion. I cried because I arrived late to my friend’s little boy’s birthday party the Saturday before my race. I cried for a lot of things that I hadn’t allowed myself to cry for. I cried because I missed Tamira, Jackie, Bradi, Ratae, Sarah, Jalise, and Jayne. My first set of best friends forever. I became overwhelmed with gratitude for the friendships I gained in the past four years. I was finally genuinely thankful for everything I have.

Mile 23, “almost there just a weak 5K” I told myself, “I got this!!” I’ve done it so many times with no sweat. That 5k might as well have been a 20K. I thought of the initials on my chest. Initials of every person who had made an impact in my life. My crossfit ladies, some of the strongest women I know.

Those hills at the end felt like mountains. I looked up and for the first time I clearly saw all the men and women who have been running next to me this whole time. I didn’t notice them before. They looked tired and in pain but not defeated. Some of them were also crying. I realized I was not alone and we were going to finish this run together. Mile 25, it was all about me, I wanted this. I am the strongest me I’ve ever known. I was close. I remember my friend Jackie who I saw on mile 1 when I was still energized. Can she see me now? 1/4 mile left and I can see the finish line, I heard my name and looked up and my friend Karen was there. She was screaming my name and I just lost it. I crossed the finish line crying my heart out. I cried like a baby when I saw Tracy at the finish line.

 

My friend Solymar said it was very emotional to watch marathoners finish. She told me a story of a lady who’s son jumped out of the spectators area to hold her hand while she crossed the finish line, she said they were both crying.

I was broken down to just will. I learned that I am not made of steel, the pain is real, fuck ups are impossible to avoid, and I am not Wonder Woman like I thought I was. I forgave myself and I thanked myself. I am only a human… but now with a marathon medal.

For now, I will stick to half marathons. Would I recommend a marathon? I recommend anything that will set you free from anything that is holding your mind down. Find what will allow you to be as YOU as the day you discovered the word “no.”

You are stronger than you can possibly imagine. You can train your body to do the things you want, you can set the highest goals your heart desires. You can convert pain into victory or in my case into a bunch of medals. Real talk though, six months after my marathon I learned that finding satisfaction in your present accomplishments is what will keep you grounded. Because higher expectations and future goals are fabulous, but we must remember those are actions that have not yet happened, accomplishments that do not yet exist. You can’t live in the future just like you can’t live in the past. As for me, I am going to keep running.

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