I don’t know when it happened exactly, but somewhere in the past six months of marathon training I began to consider myself a runner. I’d go to the store and the guy at the checkout would comment on the giant jar of peanut butter and the three big bottles of Gatorade I was buying and my response would be, “I run a lot.” But after crossing that finish line on March 2nd, I feel like I’ve earned my more than just the “I run a lot” moniker. I’m a runner.
I realize I’ve become a runner because I keep trying to convince my friends to run with me. Run anywhere, any distance, for fun or sport. I’m proud of my black toenails. I’ve already lost one and another one is on its way out and I love telling people about them, if they ask, of course. My podiatrist even gave me the missing nail to keep as a souvenir. “Here. You can gross your friends out with this,” he said, handing me a little specimen jar. I think that makes him cool. Really cool.
So far, I haven’t planned to run another marathon just yet. I’m still in physical therapy for the Baker’s cyst in my right knee and the IT band torture my body put me through towards the end of my training. But the physical therapy was a godsend; I ran the marathon pain free, other than the normal muscle pain, thanks to my therapist. He doesn’t want me running another marathon this year, and so far I’m listening to him. I’ll be running the Santa Monica Classic 10K in May, and I’m planning to run the San Francisco Half Marathon in August, but those don’t even total 26.2 miles together, so I think I’m playing along admirably.
You may not understand why I’d say all of this after you read the following breakdown of my marathon, or you might be right there with me, but all I can say is that the human body is designed to forget pain. The thing is, it’s not like I’ve forgotten the pain, it’s more like I’m proud of my ability to endure it. Somehow I turned into one of the masochistic nutcases I’d always ridiculed. I think it happened somewhere in the time that I turned from a woman who runs a lot into a woman who is a runner.
Miles 1-3: I'm feeling great. It's still cool enough. Even the uphill isn't taxing.
Miles 4-9: Still feeling good. That downhill for the past many miles was sooooo nice. The flats are good too. Hey, there are my friends to cheer me on!
Miles 10-13: Thoughts of are we there yet begin to creep in. Hey, my friends are back! This is cool!
Mile: 13: If a marathon were an apartment building by the freeway, the sign would say, "If you were running a half, you'd be home already." Sadly, I have one more half to go. I start thinking about how half marathons are the distance for me.
Miles 14-18: Thinking to myself, you can do this. You can do this. Peppered with why did I do this? Why did I do this?
Miles 18-20: With each step I thought, this if the farthest you've ever run. This is the farthest you've ever run.
Mile 21: I hate myself.
Mile 22: I turn to the four people in my group who are still with me and say, “See that hill up ahead, I am so walking that.” We are all in agreement.
Miles 23-25: Water. I need water. I have come this far, I cannot quit. My friends are still here? Wow, they are brave souls. I think I tell them I want to die. A policeman cheers for me by name.
Mile 26: I see my coaches and run towards them. It is so nice to see them.
Mile 26.1 and 26.2: Run, Forrest, Run! I sprint to the end like I've never sprinted before. Which is true, because it was probably more like jogging a little faster because I was exhausted. But I wanted to get there as fast as humanly possible. I wanted it all to be over. And then it was.