Road to 26.2

Copy Editor Courtney Kueppers logs her triumphs and tribulations of marathon training in this biweekly running column

Story by Courtney Kueppers, Copy Editor

First of all, you must know I’m no all-star runner. There is no reason to believe I am somehow more qualified to run a marathon than anyone else.

I decided to go out for the ridiculous sport that is cross country when I was a sophomore in high school, mostly because I had already tried just about every other sport and I needed something to do after school.

For some reason, I fell in love with running and although I have competed on the UW-Eau Claire cross country team for the last two years, I am completely and utterly average. Slow and steady doesn’t win cross country races, but its my style.

The stack of T-shirts and race bibs I have collected over the years as a runner are proof that I have done various road races: a billion 5K’s, a handful of 8Ks, a few 10Ks and three half-marathons.

I always knew someday I would attempt the 26.2 miles and as I watched my older brother cross the finish line of his second full-marathon last summer in Duluth (Minn.), I knew I was ready. Well, mentally anyways. So it began: my plan to go from average cross country runner to marathoner.

After completing yet another cross season, my former soccer player turned sometimes runner boyfriend, Johnny, and I began training to run our first marathon together.

The first roadblock was the Eau Claire marathon being canceled. Johnny and I scrambled to find another marathon around the same time. A simple Google search led us to our destination: The Wisconsin Marathon in Kenosha on May 3. (It has since been announced that the Eau Claire Marathon is back on and you should totally register.)

Our first training sessions started with just running two to three miles a couple of times a week to get in shape, but now the mileage is building.

Last week, Johnny and I learned the struggle of being distance runners in a Midwest winter.

While visiting my family in Minnesota we took a stab at our longest training run to date: nine miles. When the thought crossed my mind that it was still 17.2 miles short of what we will run in May, I was reminded 26.2 miles is a long ways away. When you drive 26.2 miles in your car it is considered a bit of a hike, and for some reason we have decided to do it on foot. Whoa.

The night before the nine–mile run, the Twin Cities area received another couple fresh inches of snow and it seemed no one was in too big of a hurry to get it cleaned up. With the paths covered we were left running single file on the shoulder of roads much of the way.

The next day was the first, but certainly not last, time training left me with sore legs. As it continues to rev up I know there are certainly harder training runs ahead of us, but hopefully with less ice.

Tuesday morning meant the first day of classes but also the first day of another training week. As Johnny and I shuffled along the route frozen from the bitter temperatures we passed a committed crosswalk guard. Johnny jokingly said to her, “You’re insane!” She chuckled and replied, “So are you guys!” I’m starting to think she was right.