After reading the title of my article, you may think that this is an excerpt from a children’s book. But let me assure you, there was nothing juvenile about running 26.2 miles last year at The Quad Cities Marathon in downtown Moline.
I have been a runner ever since my grade school days in track and high school but it wasn’t until about 2004 that I started to distance run. It started off small, only a few miles a day, gradually increasing over the years.
After participating in almost ten years of the Quad Cities Times Bix 7, I decided two years ago that I would run The Quad Cities Half Marathon. After successfully completing that I thought that it only made sense to do the full marathon this past year. I was already running about 20-25 miles a week so I didn’t think it would be that hard to add a few more miles to my weekly log. I was wrong.
I was given a marathon training schedule from a co-worker who is also an avid runner. Initially, I was a little intimidated when looking at the schedule especially when I saw that for the last third of the training I would be doing 18-21 mile long runs once a week. As the summer progressed I was feeling pretty good and started to get excited about the upcoming event. But it was on the day that I ran 21 miles that I really thought twice about what I was doing. With only about three weeks left in training, the running tapered down which was a nice change as I had been logging countless hours of running all summer.
What was most interesting was that the week of the race I began to get nervous. I made sure to watch what I ate all week and began to mentally prepare for the race by meditating on the track that I trained on all summer long. The weather was perfect on race morning. As the gun went off I began what I figured was to be my 4.5 hour long journey. About halfway through the marathon I realized that this was more of a mental battle than a physical one. My knees were tightening up but it was my brain that was telling me not to stop. I really fed off the crowds cheering for me and I realized what a difference that made during the parts of the race where you were pretty much by yourself. Seeing my brother and dad taking pictures and cheering me on at about the 22 mile marker really helped give me the boost that I needed at that point.
Within the last mile the same co-worker that had helped get me ready for the race was at the end cheering for me and letting me know that I was three stoplights away from being done. As I saw the finish line about 500 feet me from me I felt an unexpected rush of happiness mixed with relief come over me as I picked up my pace as much as I could to finish the race. With my mom, dad and brother at the finish line, I was also honored to have the Quad Cities Marathon Race Director, Joe Moreno be the one to put my finishing medal around my neck.
There were a few things about myself that I learned while training and completing my first marathon last summer. One, the amount of support and encouragement from my family and friends was amazing. Them taking the time to be there at 730 am and still there at 12:38 when I finished was above and beyond.
And finally, the thing that I learned most about myself is that, as corny as it sounds, if you want to do something and invest the proper time and dedication to it, there isn’t anything you can’t do. I am not the best athlete in the world nor am I a professional long distance runner. But, I told myself at the beginning of that summer that I wanted to run a marathon. I did what I needed to do to make that happen.
The Quad Cities Marathon will take place this year on September 28.
The Race weekend offers something for everyone. Along with the marathon, they offer a half marathon, marathon relay, 5K, Pump n Run, 1mile walk and even a micromarathon for the kids. Whether you’re looking to qualify for Boston, or walk a mile with your friends – this fun and well organized event is perfect for elite athletes and casual runners alike.
For more information visit www.qcmarathon.org
Photos by Phil Cunningham