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Marathon 1; Chicago 2000

Posted in motivation, travel with tags , , , , on August 20, 2016 by afuntanilla

In 2000, I had a couple of half-marathons under my belt. 1 in San Francisco and 1 in Tybee Island, GA which is just outside of Savannah. And so, naturally, once i was done with those races, i started thinking “what’s next?”

Well, the natural progression was to think of the marathon. But, I was nervous, scared. I didn’t know if I could do it. Could I do it? How could I do it? How could I possibly run 26.2 miles? Man, that is far!

Well, I was sitting in my Atlanta apartment one day that Spring and I came across and AD for the Chicago Marathon in Runners World Magazine. And the AD said, “ there will be days you don’t know if you can run a marathon. there will be a lifetime knowing you can.” Well, I fell right there; hook, line and sinker. I signed up with the goal being that months later in October, I would arrive in Chicago fit and prepared to explore the city, 26.2 miles of it. But first, there was work to do.

I began following a novice marathon training plan. A 16 week plan that told me a lot of things like how many days to run and how many miles, but there’s a lot which is omitted from the plan; namely, what it actually takes to complete the training; which is discipline, dedication, committment. heart and guts. there’s nothing in the plan about how to overcome the fatigue of all these training days and the self-doubt that will invariably creep in. No, those things are yours and yours alone to figure out. And THAT, is part of what the marathon teaches you..it’s an exploration into the limits of the self. During the days and weeks of training, the questions that emerge beg and demand of you honest answers; how will i fit in this 14 mile run? how will i keep a 9 min pace for 26 miles? how can i possibly run another day when i am so freaking exhausted? How am i going to fit in 4-5 days of training while working 50 hour weeks? And thru this particular vehicle of the training program, you realize you cannot lie or cheat or skirt around something. The truth will always be staring at your…whether you were great today or whether you fell short. Whether you exceeded expectations or missed {the training is a gateway to truth }

I trained thru the heat and humidity of summertime in Atlanta; conditions were daunting and unrelenting. it didn’t matter what time of day I went out; whether it was 11pm or 5am, the stifling conditions still persisted. I had to find a way to get thru it. That’s the dedication, that’s the committment. Race day arrived and there i was on the shores of Lake Michigan along with about 20k other runners. We listened to the Star-Spangled Banner and then we were off, each to pursue our own personal journey. Those first few miles took us through downtown Chicago amid the booming buildings and stunning architecture. The spectators were 3 and 4 people deep, all cheering us on. Miles further and we explored the Gay neighborhood, the Italian area and the Russian hood…each with it’s own blend of music, aromas, colors and cheers. Mile 20 comes and now I am entering unknown territory as I never went past 20 miles in the training. My feet are aching, feel like they are burning and all I can think is “I have 6 more miles to go” I had to keep moving. Sometimes a shuffle, sometimes a walk…but movement. I pass mile 23 and I’m starting to move slightly quicker. 1/2 mile to go and I can see the finish line area… people in the stands on the left and right. i am now picking up my pace and in full stride, I am screaming, yelling, so beside myself as I cross under the finish line banner of my 1st marathon. An incredible race & atmosphere for my 1st marathon.

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The Ad…

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1/2 way…