I first had the idea to run the Chicago marathon the night before my first half marathon, in November 2018. Sitting in my hotel room killing time, I happened upon an announcement that the lottery was open for the 2019 Chicago Marathon. I sat there staring at the screen on my phone. Should I do it? More importantly could I do it?
My heart was telling me that I could. The practical side of my brain said it was a bit foolish signing up for a full before I had even completed the half I was running the next day. It sounded like an enormous challenge and I wasn’t really sure if I was ready. On the other hand I had just gone from a basically sedentary lifestyle to running a half marathon in 9 months time. That in itself seemed miraculous.
I think there is something about reaching middle age that gives you the freedom to ignore the practical and just do whatever you want. I sat there thinking “you’ll never be ready, just jump!” And what am I teaching my kids if I’m too afraid to try anything? So that’s what I did, I jumped. I filled out the entry, telling myself if I got a place it was meant to be.
And of course I did get in. And the road up to this point has been amazing and challenging in so many ways. I amazed myself over and over with what I was even capable of in training for the Chicago marathon. Every new distance was impossible until I reached it. Until I challenged what IS possible. And I won’t even go into the logistics of balancing marathon training, family, and career. Did I do everything perfectly? No. Where there is a will, there is a way. Some days it was a juggling act to be sure.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. You see, finishing this marathon wasn’t so much about running. I’m not a particularly fast or talented runner, although I do enjoy it. It’s much more about ignoring that narrative in my mind that tells me I can’t. It’s about overcoming my own limitations and proving to myself that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.
I think we have such a long list of things that we think we can’t do; I’m scared of heights so I’ll never be able to climb a mountain, I’d like to write a book but I’m afraid no one would read it, I’d like a new career but graduate school sounds really hard… The list goes on and on in our minds doesn’t it?
There were moments during the race that I wasn’t sure I could go on. The pain in my legs was unbearable, I was tired. I was hungry. It took an extraordinary effort to keep moving forward. I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. That’s how I got to the finish. I got past some of the toughest times through the kindness of complete strangers. One woman was passing out packets of little cookies around mile 18. Those cookies got me through one of the toughest times in the race, when I had come so far and still had so far to go.
The day before the 2019 Chicago Marathon Eliud Kipchoge made history by breaking 2 hours in the marathon distance in Vienna. A super human feat. I had been following the Ineos 1:59 challenge for awhile and many people said it could not be done. Eliud’s message “no human is limited” came to me during the the toughest times of the race, when I was struggling to keep going. Little did I know that the women’s world record had just been broken earlier that morning by Brigid Kosgei. I was literally running in her footsteps as I followed the blue line to the finish, making my own history. No human is limited.
Completing my first marathon in Chicago was such an empowering experience for me. Pushing through my limits just makes me more excited to tackle new challenges! Doing hard things gives you courage and makes you strong. Remember, there is nothing brave about doing something that doesn’t scare you a little.
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”C.S. Lewis
And you know, along the way I have discovered that, although I don’t have the gift of speed, I have the ability to hang in there over long distances. I have endurance! I would have never known that if I didn’t take the leap and train for, and finish, my first marathon in Chicago! Hopefully, the first marathon of many.
Whoever needs to hear this today, I hope you choose to take the leap to pursue whatever inspires you. Write that book, start that business, run that marathon! Do whatever sets your soul on fire. There’s no time for anything else.
Stay tuned for my next post covering all the details you want to know about running your first marathon in Chicago. I was always looking for any information I could find so I hope it will be helpful to someone!
Keep Roaming! – Tina