I’ve got marathon fever and I don’t think I want to find a cure! Often, people ask me how I got started — or what made me want to start running marathons. It didn’t happen overnight, I’ll tell you that!

Before 20003: I’ve almost always kept up regular exercise in some form (aside from a REALLY bad sophomore year of college…) from the time I was around 14 or 15 so when I began running, I was fairly fit. That’s where it all begins…

2003: After gaining weight my sophomore year of college, I began running regularly 3-5 miles around at track at the gym and lost about 10 pounds. Running became kind of a lifeline but I thought 5 miles was, like, kind of a lot back then.

2004: I stepped up my running to 7-8 miles, which seemed like a world record to me. I noticed that the longer runs made me feel even better than the shorter runs. Though they were hard, the benefit was worth it and I began pride myself on more miles.

2005: I ran my first 1/2 marathon. It was hard and maintained that I had no need to prove anything by running a full marathon. Crazy. What’s the point? No need. I was perfectly happy with my one 1/2 marathon.

2006: I moved to DC and lo and behold, there was a whole, huge marathon right in the middle of my city. Hmmm. My runs increased a bit to encompass up to 10 miles sometimes — though that was sometimes for unhealthy reasons. I still wasn’t sold on running a marathon.

2007: Buzz about the Marine Corps Marathon was heavy. I knew I didn’t want to spend my life training but figured I’d just sign up and run and see what happened. Well, the race was full by the time I got to it and I decided it was better anyway.

See? Only a 5k & you get to roll in the mud!

2008: My sister and her husband decided to run their first marathon — the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon. That’s really all it took to kick my butt in to gear. Soon after, I signed up (in time) for the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon. I had no idea what I was getting into.

My inspirations! Lindsey + Glenn = FAST

As for training, I had no plan. I kind of looked at some plans but basically just figured if I got a couple of long runs in — including one 20-miler — I’d be fine. Well, you can’t very well get your long runs in in the middle of a hot, summer Saturday. Instead of getting up early and beating the heat, I just slept in till whenever and would start running midday. With no water. Or snacks. Or money. I learned my lesson the first time after I felt like I was going to die of thirst, starvation and exhaustion. Still, I did things wrong.

This was in the midst of a stage of life that I did a lot of “going out.” I never once sacrificed a fun Friday night out for a good long run. I always had crappy runs — but at least I did them. I began carrying a running pack with money and stopping for bottled water and a bathroom break at a Starbucks on the route. But, it was no wonder I could barely get through the runs with no food or gel or anything!

In the end, I ran one 15-mile training run and one 20-miler before the race. I had no idea what to expect on race day and was totally nervous. I just wanted to finish. That’s it, my only goal. In the end, I finished my first marathon in 4:34 — faster than I’d expected. My legs had started to freeze up around mile 20 — it was torterous getting to the end.

I claimed I didn’t need to run another marathon anytime soon. Maybe sometime in the next 10 years…

2009: Lindsey and Glenn started running marathons like crazy — increasing their times and getting competitive. Lindsey ran Boston and the two of them began traveling for races. I was intrigued but still not totally motivated to do another.

My mom also began running long distances and ran her first marathon at the age of 47! At the same time, my Dad had gotten into competitive bike rides. Basically, our family was transformed into fitness freaks! Plus, my sister made fun of my for have a “26.2” sticker on my car after only one marathon. According to Ms. Boston, only multiple marathoners should have those! (Runner snob! Jk…)

That’s my mom on the right! She runs marathons 🙂

 2010: Lindsey, Glenn and my mom decided to run the Chicago Marathon. How could I NOT join them? I was in. Training went better this time around. I bought a water belt. I learned about Cliff bars and Gu and sport beans and ice packs and gatorade — and ditched all those crazy nights out. I found a running group to do my long runs with and got in 2 good 20-milers, an 18-miler and a 15-miler. Chicago was flat. I was feeling okay but still nervous.

Chicago did not go as planned. Ever have a bad body day? Yeah. My body was not happy with me. I had PMS, my stomach was bloated, my lower back hurt for no reason, I felt tired and could not get in sync. It was hot. I kept thinking I would find my happy place but never once did it visit me. After struggling through most of the race, I hit a wall around 18 miles and thought I wouldn’t finish. You can read all about it here. To finish up, I DID finish Chicago in 4:57. I was NOT happy. I felt like a failure.

On the way home from the race, I remembered that Marine Corps was coming up in 3 weeks. I KNEW I could do better. I hated that all my training went to a lousy body day. All that time and it was screwed. Should I run MCM in just three weeks? YES! I bought someone’s bib and I was in. Maggie was running it so I had a partner to be excited with.

The day of MCM 2010, I felt okay. Not great but much better than Chicago. I drowned out my irritation with music this time — it seemed to help. At the halfway point, I thought I was going to have a repeat performance but something kicked in a few miles later & I was golden. If you ever get a second wind in the last four miles of a marathon, you are lucky. I got one and was able to cross the finish line in 4:22!

2011: As soon as MCM was over, I knew I wanted to sign up for something in 2011 and chose Baltimore because it was close but different. I trained ten times better for this race than the others. I was dedicated to my Saturday runs, eating correctly, getting enough sleep and taking precautions. I got in four 20-mile training runs and spent the week before doing everything I could to keep in prime shape. As you know, things went will. One of the hilliest courses in the nation, I came in with a 4:11, an 11 minute PR. Success!

Now, here I am, about to run MCM  for the third time. I’m excited and ready to go! And guess what? I have my eyes set on Myrtle Beach in February and DC Rock n’ Roll in March. I’ve got marathon fever and I don’t know where it came from! I have a feeling this won’t last forever but right now, it’s in my blood. Half marathons seem like wimping out right now (for me, that is) and I’m going to roll with this while it lasts. The marathon is about so much more than running. Discipline, dedication, goals, drive, ambition and possibility. You work through your doubts and fears, conquering the negative with every pounding step.

I would say that running has changed my life for the better. I would say, when in doubt, RUN.

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