There is so much more to the marathon than crossing the finish line
My name is Beth and I am from Athens, Ohio, U.S.A. However, my career as a language teacher has led me to a life in Madrid, Spain.
Sports have always held a central role in my life and I started participating in basketball, softball and cross-country at a young age through the teams at my school. Basketball has always been my favorite sport to play and when I was 13 I really wanted to join the volleyball team in the fall. It was my father who insisted that I start running with the cross-country team as he believed it would get me into better shape for basketball season. Like a typical teenager I reluctantly joined the team thinking the whole time that it was a miserable sport and I dreamt of how much more fun I would be having on the volleyball court. Thanks to my dad, I found that sport that I now don’t know how I could live without. Parents always know best, right?
When I turned 26 I was teaching high school Spanish in Ohio and also helping to coach the cross-country team. When our season ended I was contemplating how I could fill the void of no longer running with my group of high schoolers until summer conditioning started. One night, with two of my best friends I randomly (and maybe a bit naively) signed up for my first 26.2 mile race thinking it fit well with my age at that time. Little did I know that race would be the beginning of something much bigger for me that now truly defines a part of who I am.
There is so much more to the marathon than crossing the finish line the day of the race. For me the most rewarding and most challenging aspect is the sacrifices that come with the time commitment and the crucial need for consistency. Enduring the months of training is what really matters to me because it is completing a promise you make to yourself and any friends you are running with.
However, even when you do keep that promise to yourself, things don’t always turn out like you plan and that can be devastating. For me it was my Nashville, Tennessee marathon in 2016. I had trained hard, eaten well and done everything right. I finished that race around 30 minutes slower than I had planned and was the closest I had ever come to dropping out in any of the 5 marathons I have completed. That marathon was the one that really taught me how to mentally and emotionally work through challenges and disappointments that are bound to appear in sports and in life as well.
With all hardships come funny moments, too and one that comes to mind was in my first marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio. People say you stop thinking clearly after running long distances, well I was convinced that my sister was just up ahead cheering for me. I ran up to her and gave her a big hug only to realize as I was putting my arms around her, it was a total stranger. Everyone is in good spirits on race day so she happily hugged me back and didn’t ask any questions.
I have done half of my races with friends and the other half alone. That is the beautiful thing about running: you can always race individually if you are lacking a partner, but it becomes so much more when you share the pain, joy, and happiness with someone else.