29 May Courtney’s First Marathon (Guest Post by Courtney)
Although it still seems surreal, on my 24th birthday, I accomplished a goal months in the making – I ran my first marathon! Back in the fall of 2017, I ran the Clarkston Backwoods Half Marathon in Michigan after training through a very busy time, including five weeks straight of work travel. I selected the Ann Arbor Marathon, initially scheduled in March, for my attempt at 26.2 miles. The date changed to my birthday before I started training and I decided that was all the more reason to go for it.
I started training in January, and between work and personal travel, I ran in Toronto (my hometown), Ottawa, Ft. Myers, Hartford, San Francisco, San Jose, and Detroit. It was a challenge to fit in runs amidst time on trains, planes, and automobiles, but I made it through relatively unscathed.
On the morning of the race, I ate my standard meal – avocado on an English muffin, and a banana with almond butter – and headed to the start line with my family and boyfriend. The race was relatively small, with under 200 people completing the marathon. However, all four races (5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon) started at the same time in the same direction, so the start was a bit chaotic. I tried to keep a controlled pace and focus on just getting into the rhythm of running. After the 5k and 10k runners spilt off, the crowd definitely thinned. The course was the same loop twice, with a number of rolling hills that kept things interesting, and one long climb up a trail that started close to the halfway mark. I saw my parents and boyfriend at mile 13, and remember thinking that I felt good. It was an incredible realization to feel strong after I passed the mark of the longest race I had ever run before.
The second half was much more mentally and physically tough. It was hard to see other runners at points, so I really had to rely on myself to keep going. Right around mile 20, it seemed almost impossible to continue on. It felt like gravity had been turned up to 100, and time had ground to a halt. For a little bit, I wondered if any of this even mattered. Eventually, I picked up my walk to a slow trot, and just kept chugging along. I allowed myself to walk for the first 1/10 of a mile, then run the remainder of it. This strategy kept me from completely falling apart. About a quarter of a mile to the finish, I spotted my parents, boyfriend, and friend who had joined them cheering me on. This gave me the most incredible push to the finish. As I turned the corner, my mom had asked the announcer to mention it was my birthday, and I was met by the birthday song over the loudspeaker. This of course caused me to burst into tears – what a way to finish the race! My finishing time was 4:35:54, good enough for 4th out of ten women in my age category.
In the week since I’ve completed the goal, I’ve done a few short runs and a lot of walking. It’s still incredible to me that I ran a whole marathon! I’m not sure what the future holds for me in terms of running, but it’s a birthday I won’t forget any time soon.
Courtney is a higher education professional based in Toronto who enjoys distance running, reading, baking, and long walks. She credits her Aunt Linda with encouraging her to sign up for her first half marathon.
Thanks Courtney! What a wonderful story and amazing accomplishment. We are so proud of you, including myself–your Aunt Linda. Congratulations!
…and thanks everyone for reading. Do you remember the story of your 1st marathon?