The Bottom, the Itch, and the Redemption

“There is an itch in runners.”  –Arnold Hano

The Marine Corp Marathon will always live in infamy in my sorted running history – as a former college athlete and born-again runner, I set out with a goal to prove to myself that 26.2 was achievable.  So started the itch?

The Bottom…

Not exactly – it was after a turbulent few years of putting my then significant other and my job ahead of myself, that everything fell apart.  I mean crash and burn…  We all know the story line and it’s pretty cliche by starting-over-standards – gained weight, felt hopeless inside/projected perfection outside, missed out on family/friend events, and felt utterly exhausted and alone – the bottom.

So started the moment of “starting over again” – this romanticized phase that seems like a rite of passage in the roller coaster that is life + dating – after picking myself up and rebuilding the physical appearance of a new life, I had to start the architectural drafting of my emotional rebuild… I dreaded this part.  With the help of so many kind/inspirational pep talks, the gifting of several “books”, and 1 invitation to a New Years Day 5K, I found the elusive phase buried in my closet in a pair of bright pink running shoes…

The Itch…

Over the next 10 months, I would spend hours a week researching, talking, and training with family/friends in a quest to crack this emotional nut with the help of the Marine Corp Marathon.  Those months of logging lots of miles, tendon injuries, tears, and running gear bursting out of the seams of my closet – I finally stared my challenge in the face on the chilly morning of Oct. 22, 2017 in Washington DC.

Marine Corp Start
The infamous fly-over just minutes before the start of the Marine Corp Marathon

I ran with some of the most incredible folks in the world – including my dedicated, experienced, and always-positive training partner (Jill).  Just after the 1/2-way point, my body and emotions started breaking down – the pain was incredible (still cringe thinking about it) and the exhaustion was creeping up from my feet.  After reaching the finish line, I started crying – not out of joy, but out of a mix of disappointment / pain – the itch was gone.

I returned from DC on a cold Monday knowing that I could have done better and that running would be leaving my daily routine for at least 2 months – thanks to my flat feet + inflamed tendons.  Those 2 months brought me back to “the bottom” before running even became my savior.  Watching my friends sign-up for more half marathons, 5Ks and going on team runs together reduced me to tears again.  I struggled to understand whether I really loved running or maybe just missed my friends – after 3 weeks and a lot of physical therapy, I knew that I missed them both equally.

Enter a chilly day back from Thanksgiving – my resilient and always-positive training partner dangled another running-carrot in front of me — the Chicago Marathon — a shot at redemption.  Looking back at our text messages, I can see that I spent hours thinking about a response before I finally replied “I need to think about it”.  There was no thinking needed – I knew deep down inside I wanted this (and bad) but I was scared thinking about Oct. 22 and the Marine Corp.

But on the last day of the lottery, I sat at my desk (exhausted from Cyber Monday shopping a few days earlier) and out of my inner competitiveness and intrigue, I completed the application forwarded the email confirmation to my training partner and walked away.

The Redemption Begins…

Chicago Marathon Confirmation

On Dec. 12, I sat at the computer refreshing my email incessantly waiting for that magical email – after seeing many friends getting theirs earlier in the morning, I started to feel like the opportunity had evaded me – until it flew into my Gmail inbox at exactly 11:19 am EST – April: 1, World: 0 – let’s do this!

Like many runners who have traveled this journey before me, I have learned so many lessons – one of my favorite is still from a running club friend of mine (Katie), who told me at the beginning of training that marathon training is a lot uglier than all the pretty, filtered Instagram and Facebook posts you see (amen to that and we all know that’s the truth…).

As I have said before – the blog’s goal and mission – is to share lessons learned, learn from those within the running community, and document the redemption quest – Chicago Marathon 2018, here I come and I’ll be ready for you!


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