As some of you know, yesterday I participated in the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. I am going to start out by saying that all in all it was a POSITIVE experience. My only goal with being registered for the marathon was to gain motivation to exercise after Amelia was born. Mission accomplished. Goal fully met.
With that being said, when I arrived in Grafton yesterday morning I had already met my goal. I have been exercising for the past six months, every week. I can honestly say that if I had not been registered for the marathon I would likely have exercised once, maybe twice, since Amelia was born. With so many things going on right now in my life I knew exercise would take the backseat (as it does with many Americans, I am not alone). Saying that I wanted to lose so many pounds in a certain amount of time would not have been motivation, I would have kept extending that certain amount of time... So when I was asked to participate in yesterday's event I decided to say yes. I knew that it would take something big and scary to get me out of the house and exercising.
I was hesitant to even participate yesterday. I knew that I was not ready. I had a really hard time working regular training into my schedule. Right after I registered summer school started and then that went right into the fall semester. I still had an irregular work schedule, based around when classes are, when Jason works and also when I am needed at the theatre. Homework varies day to day/week to week etc.
I decided to go, with the mentality that "I could do it". I kept that mentality most of the morning. When I would pass mile markers and hear them call out the time and what my pace was I felt good. I was maintaining a pace that was going to get me across the finish line within the 6.5 hour limit, with time to spare. I started to get discouraged though when I would come up to water/aid stations that were packed up. There were still a lot of us coming through and there was no one there to assist us with Gatorade/water or even to give us an encouraging smile or word. We were still fast enough to be official finishers and yet it felt nothing like that. Route markers disappeared. Mile markers weren't up, so I had no idea how far I had gone. I sometimes wasn't even sure if I was on the right track.
I know that they can't keep stuff up forever. There are limited resources and volunteers etc. However, if we were at a pace that would put us at the finish within their official time limit shouldn't we have at least had the courtesy of mile markers? So we knew where we were? I know when I was going and I hadn't seen a mile marker I started to feel like I had slowed down immensely (when I hadn't, as I would find out when I finally reached a mile marker with a timer) and it was discouraging.
Anyways, I finished just over 18 miles of the course. I had some hidden doubts about whether or not I would make it to the halfway point (13 miles) so 18 miles felt great. As my co-worker Emily said last night (yes, I worked last night), "your goal was to exercise, you did. That 18 miles was just icing on the cake". I really liked that metaphor because it's the truth, 100%. I pushed myself yesterday more than I ever have. And as one spectator told every runner who passed by (at the 6 mile marker), "You're doing great, how many people do you know that have gone 6 miles this morning?". He was right to.
So, in conclusion, I feel good about yesterday. Even if others look at it as a failure I view it as a win. I have been exercising and will continue to. I have gotten into such a great habit of running to Target for things we need. That's a three mile errand (round-trip). I enjoy running errands and literally running them (sorry, bad pun).
I think that I will try a marathon again. Not next year, but maybe in 2011. I will graduate in December and it is my hope that once school is out of the way I will have more time and will find it easier to settle into a regular routine of exercising/running/training, whatever you would like to call it.