Marathon Mama

Posted November 4th, 2011 by dianafunk in Fitness, Health

On October 30, I fulfilled one of my life’s goals: I ran – and finished! – a marathon. Or, as I like to say, I ran 26.2 miles – all in a row, and I didn’t die in the process.

This may not seem like a big deal to lifelong runners. But to a tried-and-true non-athlete such as myself, it was a HUGE deal. I quit the soccer team in elementary school because the coach was a yeller. I was a cheerleader in high school, where most practices consisted of eating Twix bars and gossiping about boys. I did run as an adult, once, when I was trying to catch the bus. I tripped and fell in the street, ripping holes in the knees of my tights. I spent the next week on crutches. Nope, not an athlete.

I’d always *wanted* to be an athlete, though. The costumes looked cute (“They’re *uniforms,*” a friend helpfully pointed out). And athletes always seemed so bad-ass. But what kind of athletics could I possibly pursue? Besides, competition was never something that appealed to me. That sort of thinking kind of flies in the face of what athleticism embodies.

Running always sounded kind of cool. Other than good shoes, there wasn’t much equipment involved. You didn’t need to be on a team (and undoubtedly risk the disappointment and ridicule of fellow teammates), you could do it at your own speed, and you could run pretty much anywhere. Plus, there were some cute clothes involved.
But those distances – 5K, 10K, 26.2 miles?! – sounded impossible. How could anyone run almost 30 miles at once? What would that feel like, physically and emotionally? I wanted to know, and I decided that, before I died, I’d run a marathon. I had no idea when, but I was going to do it. (Also? It seemed like the perfect goal to keep putting off but keep mentioning to people.)

Almost two years ago, we randomly got a Team in Training postcard in the mail. If you were looking for an endurance event, you’d get great coaching and support, if you helped raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. “I’m going to run the Marine Corps Marathon,” the hubs, a fellow couch potato, announced to me in February 2010. And, by God, that October, he did.

That competitive drive I always lacked? Suddenly, it reared its head. Oh, yeah? Run a marathon, will you? I can do that, too, ya know. And so, this past spring, I signed up with TNT. I committed to raising $1,000 to support life-saving research to eradicate blood cancers. And I committed to training to run the Marine Corps Marathon – all 26.2 miles, in a row. I was a living embodiment of insanity: a late-thirties mother of two young hooligan
children, with absolutely no physical prowess but gifted with the innate ability to trip over dust molecules. But I was psyched!

There was snow on the ground that first day in March, when all I had to run was a measly two miles, and I thought I might actually die. I ran through a gorgeous spring, a hot-as-hell summer, and then a chilly fall. I ran by myself, and I ran with my team, and I ran with my chunky toddler in the jogging stroller (who was cool with it, as long as he had a steady supply of snacks). I ran on trails, and I ran around my ‘hood, and I ran on the treadmill at the gym (enduring endless episodes of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” which is actually tolerable on mute) late at night, after my family had gone to bed. My mileage increased, and before I knew it, I was running five miles, ten miles… 16 miles… 20 freakin’ miles!

There were the inevitable highs and lows: a few injuries, the excitement of the impending glory, followed by the anxiety of actually having to live up to my commitment. But I kept at it – the only thing in my life, aside from my marriage, that I’ve ever truly committed to – and before I knew it, the race was here.

I was freezing. I was semi-terrified. I was excited. I was in excruciating pain by the last few miles. But I crossed that finish line, and a Marine put a medal around my neck. It was the most difficult physical exertion I’d ever felt in my life (and I say this as a woman who birthed two babies), and it was the most exhilirating sensation. I RAN A MARATHON.

The day after my race, one of my coaches posted on my Facebook wall: “Diana, you totally rock. So much fun running with you this season. You were great out there yesterday and I am proud to say you are officially a bad-ass.” Yeah. A bad-ass in a cute costume!



10 Responses to “Marathon Mama”

  1. jodifur

    I am amazed. I’m running my first 5k tomorrow and I’m not sure I can even do that. A marathon I can not imagine.

  2. Erin

    Diana, this post made me laugh and cry… you ran 26.2 miles and you are a bad ass!! :) Not only that, you are a great writer. so glad you’re back at it!

  3. Dawn Mooney

    You should be so seriously proud of yourself, Diana. Though we’ve never met in real life, I’m hugely freaking proud of you, for this was such a commitment you made and you kicked its ass. Well done!!

  4. monicasakala

    Congratulations! You should be so proud of yourself! Not only did you accomplish something truly remarkable and set an amazing example for your kids, you also glossed over something really important that I think you deserve a ton of credit for – making TIME to train for a race – with the demands of raising two young kids. I was really moved by your casual comment of running late at night. I ran my first race last year, it was the Army 10-miler, and I can totally relate to your discussion of running through the seasons (especially super hot summers)- but the time it took to leave my girls behind, especially on the weekends, to train for the race – was a big part of the commitment. So I applaud you for doing something for yourself and for setting such an example and being an inspiration!

  5. Stacy

    Diana, darling, you are my hero. I did the half marathon a few weeks ago and frankly, DOUBLING THAT makes me wanna hurl and play dead. You are badass and I bet you even wore mascara the whole time, right?
    You are very inspiring. xoxo!