The road to 26.2

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


Story by Courtney Kueppers, Copy Editor

Recently I feel like I have crossed over a border. A running border that it is: the one that distinguishes casual runners from those who are training for something bigger.

I knew that I would get to a point where the training would get more intense and require more of my time, but I guess I didn’t expect it this early on. Training pal Johnny and I are at a point in this journey where our training seems to need a lot of attention. The shortest runs we go on now are five miles, which requires setting aside a decent amount of time.

My body is noticing too. I wake up in the morning and my knees feel stiff enough to belong to a 90-year-old instead of my 19-year-old self. But I’m not complaining. If anything I am finding more and more respect for the distance.

When you run almost every day you become pretty familiar with your surroundings. I have learned which routes I paths I like and which ones to avoid and from time to time it becomes pretty monotonous. The routes that once seemed exciting I now feel capable of running with my eyes shut, but on Friday Johnny and I realized there was still new ground to be discovered.

Penciled in on the training calendar was 13.1 miles: halfway there. We consulted the Eau Claire Half Marathon map to give us an idea of where to go and as we ran along North Crossing by Dells Pond I was humbled and reminded that there is so much of Eau Claire I haven’t even seen. For those signed up for the Eau Claire Half Marathon- you are in for a real treat. The route is absolutely gorgeous and the distance is a doable challenge.

As we made our way toward Carson Park down the Chippewa River State trail to finish our unofficial half marathon we passed another runner who excitedly complimented Johnny on his signature running sweatshirt: a forest green crew neck with the face of a whitetail deer smack on the front. “Hey! Nice sweatshirt dude!” our fellow runner called out as our paths crossed. A small victory for Johnny that means the deer sweatshirt will probably be sticking around through winter despite my differing opinions.

When we finished a sense of accomplishment flooded over me. I’m starting to feel like we will be able to do it even though the miles only keep building and my knees only continue to get more sore I have a feeling it is all going to be worth it.

On Tuesday Johnny and I took advantage of the near 40-degree weather that in contrast to recent temperatures felt more like Florida than Wisconsin. On our midday 5-mile run I pushed up my sleeves, took off my mittens and was actually warm. It was an unfamiliar phenomenon, but one I could get used to.

On my walk to campus later that day, still elated from my almost spring like run, I saw a runner cross over the footbridge donned in shorts and a T-shirt. Maybe I wasn’t so brave for taking my mittens off.

With the half marathon distance behind me now I move in to uncharted territory. Starting with this weekend’s 14-mile run- the furthest I will have ever run. Oh boy.