Road to 26.2

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

Graphic by Karl Enghofer, The Spectator

Graphic by Karl Enghofer, The Spectator

Story by Courtney Kueppers, Copy Editor

My jaw practically hit the ground when I saw the times of the top finishers at the Boston Marathon earlier this week. Their pace is truly unbelievable. They could run circles around me. Regardless, seeing coverage of the event was an inspiring reminder of the power of a marathon and why I want to run one.

Despite the fact I’m not running an elite marathon, and likely never will, it made me feel as though I am in good company. No matter what pace I chug along at on May 3, I am still attempting the same feat as the 36,000 runners who ran Monday in Boston.

On the afternoon of April 11, I mentally prepared myself for what I was about to do: run 20 miles.

I tried to contradict the thoughts of how far it was and the pain that was sure to follow with positivity. The sun was shining, the route was made and training partner Johnny and I were up for the distance.

Thus far on my journey to being a marathoner I have learned a lot. I have learned about my ability to overcome challenges and persevere, most of all though I have learned about the importance of teamwork.

Before training for the marathon, running was a solo event for me. Even though I have spent time on running teams throughout the last five years I have always enjoyed running primarily for a selfish reason. Running is my go-to stress reliever and a time to clear my head. However, through the training process I have accepted that I wouldn’t have made it thus far without my sidekick Johnny. I commend those who train for and run marathons solo style, but I also question their sanity.

Johnny and I each have our on and off days. The day of our 20-mile was one of my on days. As we trotted over the endless hills on Highway II I couldn’t have felt better. When we reached the top of one hill there was another in the distance, I couldn’t help but feel like a character on one of those motivational posters that hang in high school classrooms. The ones that state, “even a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step,” as if that will help you to get through your math class.

In my case it was only 20 miles, but that was plenty for me. As we looped and winded all over town I was surprised by how prepared I was, how strong I felt and how ready I thought I was for the big day quickly approaching.

However, reality stepped in this week on Tuesday, when Johnny and I headed out for a relatively shorter 12-mile run and it was my turn to have an off day. As Johnny ran the route with ease I found myself struggling, beginning to end.

That’s the way it is with marathon training. There are a lot of ups and downs that aren’t very predicable. Some days you feel like a motivational poster and others you feel incapable of running at all.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that not every run will be a good one, but they are all still a positive contribution to training for race day. A former teammate told me “some run is better than no run” in training and I have kept that in my back pocket these last few months when I find myself struggling.

 The longest training runs are now behind us. Between now and race day it’s all about shorter runs and resting for the race. After months and months of training and preparations: both mental and physical I am ready to no longer be training for a marathon and instead be a marathoner.