Heh, did you think I ran a marathon? Maybe? Just for a second?
Yeah, not yet. And maybe not ever.
So hard, that that time you see for leg three? That 2 seconds under 60 minutes time? Yeah, that is more than TEN!!! minutes under my best time for a solid 6 miles--NOT 6.3. So not only did I improve my time by more than ten minutes, I also ran farther than usual. And I didn't even have my Ipod! That's rare! The even cooler part is that I KNOW I could have been faster! Had I had a little music to push me along those last two miles, I would have soared through to the exchange point where I handed off to my relay teammate! So this run was a particularly awesome run for me.
I think my favorite part was how hard I was able to push that day. I can't always do that, and I have been having a lot of trouble pushing myself recently. For me, running is a completely mental sport. If I can get my mind to enjoy what I'm doing and not dwell on how much my foot/ankle/knee/thigh/calf/shin/toe/blisters hurt or how tired I feel, I can run for a long time and run well. That's the beauty, of course, of competing. I have something else to focus on. Many races, I pay attention to other runners' form. Most of the time, I push myself to pass people and blame it on their poor form. Well, my form isn't all that great itself, but typically, I do spend most races passing people. However....I don't think I passed a single person this time. In fact, people with some really bad form passed me. Over and over again. All I did, for the whole 6.3 miles, was get passed. And it made me work really hard to keep running because I had to battle that urge to stop since it seemed like I was failing anyway. A piece of me knew I wasn't doing bad, however, and it was that piece that I really had to hang onto for the whole race. I had to keep telling myself not to stop and not to walk because once I started that junk, I wouldn't stop, and at the end of my leg, had I stopped or walked, I would have been irritated with myself. So I pushed on. And there were definitely times in those last two miles where I was praying the end was just around the corner--and a lot of time, when I really needed a boost, a little bluegrass band was stationed along the path playing something fun to help me keep my pace or there were people cheering to boost my energy. I think the other thing that kept me going, that always keeps me going when competing, is the other runners. Because other runners are generally really encouraging of one another.
I spend a lot of time in a world where people work alone to better themselves only and not to help anyone else, where "encouragement" often is a mask for snide comments and backhanded insults. But, in running, I have always found that people are generally really supportive of one another when competing--and that, during the first race I ever did, was really surprising and cool to me. A marathoner definitely ran by me and told me to keep going when I was struggling, and after thanking him, I was thinking, "Yeah, I definitely better finish this and keep the pace up because THAT dude has already been running for 15 miles and still has 11 more to go!" And then I thought about how I'd die if I had 11 more miles to go. 6 miles is nothing compared to 26, and I struggled through the six!
But....this is what happens when you start running.
First, you just run to lose 15 pounds you put on during your first semester of college. You've never run before, but, really, you figure, you're just doing it to lose weight. How hard can it possibly be? You run at night all winter during your first year of college, during blizzards and ridiculous weather, where people can't see you and laugh. And then, by spring, when you've lost a little of the weight, you start running during the day because you need to sleep more, and because you're not as scared of having people see you doing it. You run straight through the spring and the summer and into the next year. And by the time you've been running for a year, you've lost the 15 pounds, and you're never going back...except for....3 years later when you gain 22 !!!! pounds in three months while working in Disney World. And then you run again when you come home. And it takes another year to take off 22 pounds. It feels like forever, but you get faster than you were before--because you only stopped running for a few months. And you get fit and keep running, and you casually think about running a race and what that would be like. You don't even know how far you can run or how far you've been running, you just do it. And people sometimes honk at you--and one guy is so distracted he nearly runs into a mailbox as he's yelling obscene comments about your rear out his window--but you're still more concerned about thinking about races. But you don't race, and you're not going to, because you're not competitive and you'd probably lose anyway. And you're not fast. And...well, you're just not going to do it. You're not a runner. You just run.
But you run throughout the rest of college, and you run in graduate school. And then you do a 5K one day by accident because your bib says "Run" and not "walk" like you had entered on the entrance form--and then you do another. And another. And another. And you are pretty sure 3.1 miles is your max distance. But then....then you run 6 miles just to see if you can--and you can. So you do it again. And then you do it at the Akron Marathon. And even though you were pretty sure you couldn't do it, and you couldn't do it any faster than you had practiced, you do that too. And as you sit with your relay mates, fiddling with your finisher medal, you think about how cool it would be to have a medal that said "half marathon" instead of relay.
And that is the running spiral. It sucks you in. I never thought I'd be here. But I am so proud. And even though I never thought I'd be here, I am--and that should be a sign to me that--that yes, I will probably run a half marathon. Next year! And, even though I am pretty sure I won't run a full...maybe I will. Because I like challenges, apparently, and wouldn't it just be really cool to say I ran a marathon?
Yeah, I think so.
So to end this long, ridiculous post, yes, the Akron Marathon will definitely matter when I'm dead. It is one of the coolest things I have done to date!