- This was printed in August of 2013 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 14th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.
My first marathon is Sunday and I really do feel like a kid preparing for the first day of
I’ve laid out my Santa Rosa Marathon “outfit” from my shorts and top down to my
undergarments and compression sleeves. I even have my favorite energy gels — Gu’s Jet
Blackberry — ready to place into my shorts’ inside pocket on race day.
My TriSlide anti-chafe spray skin lubricant is packed and ready, along with my
sunscreen, sunglasses and hair tie. My Nike+ SportWatch GPS is fully charged. I plug it
in and update the GPS system every day — just in case.
I’ve been walking around the house at least once every day looking for anything else that
I might need to pack for the race. It’s like having first day of school anxiety when I’d
triple-check my backpack because I was sure I’d overlooked something essential — like a
My running buddies joke that I have obsessive-compulsive disorder because I will run
back and forth or in circles to get that last quarter-mile on my GPS watch. (But really,
how can I stop at 7.76 miles? Might as well run till I hit eight!) Well, running buddies,
this marathon has taken my OCD to a whole other level.
I’ve triple-checked my shorts’ pocket to make sure my energy gels will fit. I’ve triple
checked my socks to make sure they are free of holes and match. I’ve quadruple checked
my top to make sure it won’t ride up during the run. I’ve cleaned the smudges off my
sunglasses, even though I’ll have to wipe them off again prior to the race. I feel like
everything must be perfect for this marathon or I won’t do well.
I’m still going back and forth with myself over what pace I’m going to try to maintain. I
think I’ve settled on maintaining a 9-minute mile. That’ll mean I’ll finish in less than four
hours. That’s a respectable goal for my first marathon.
Still, if I feel really amazing on race day I may try to hit that golden 8:12-per-mile pace,
which would qualify me for the Boston Marathon. See? There I go, going back and forth
again. Let’s put it this way: whatever happens, happens — but I will finish the 26.2-mile
I’d like to thank the readers I’ve heard from along the way. There are those who’ve been
runners and those who’ve just started running or those who want to start running. You are
all as inspirational to me as I hope I’ve been to you. Thanks for the comments, the
questions, and the encouragement and advice; it really means a lot to me.
Documenting my training has been the best part of this whole experience. It’s great to
look back and see how far I’ve come. In February I met up with the Wascally Wabbit
running group for the first time and ran eight miles – the farthest distance I’d ever run in
my life. On Sunday I’ll again set my personal distance record — this time with 26.2 —
alongside my Wascally buddies.
I’ve run 561 miles with my group over the last seven months, including 367 miles
training specifically for this marathon (training started in May). I’ve lost about 15
pounds, despite eating twice as much as anyone my size should. Along with fitness,
endurance, and speed, I’ve gained confidence and a level of happiness that can only be
brought on by finding something you truly enjoy (and endorphins — that “runner’s high”
is no joke!).
I am a runner. I’ve earned that title and I uphold it every day that I lace up my shoes and
hit the pavement. There is nothing more freeing, more enjoyable, and more challenging
(all at the same time) than running — and I can’t wait to run 26.2 miles on Sunday. Call
me crazy; I love it!