Thursday, March 24, 2011

2011 Vancouver, B.C. Marathon Why I Run

As most of you already know, I will be running in the Vancouver, B.C. Marathon on Sunday, May 1. I've been training for almost 11 weeks, and it's been quite the adventure. I never thought I would get to this point in my physical ability. I ran (permanent junior varsity) cross country during my junior and senior years of high school, and I think the best time I ever managed for a 5k was in the ballpark of just under 29 minutes. I'm now able to do a 5k around 22 and a half minutes. That's a running average around 7:20 per mile.

I've been trying to write this eloquent post about how I'm training for my first marathon, and all the hard work it's entailed, and blah, blah, blah. As you can see, it got me nowhere. I'm going to write from the heart and explain why I run.

I wanted to prove to myself, and anyone else who ever doubted any of my abilities, that I am capable of accomplishing so much. Need some perspective?

Here is me in the spring of 2004:

And here is me in the fall of 2010:

At the end of my sophomore year of high school I decided that I needed to make more friends. The ones that I kept over from eighth grade weren't enough. People have to grow, right? So, I decided to join our school's cross country running team, despite the fact that I didn't have an ounce of athletic ability/competitiveness inside my entire body. If I couldn't make any impact on our (completely irrelevant) team score--I still have no idea how they calculated that damn thing--then I was going to have fun and make our grueling practices easier to get through. As I recall, there was maybe one race in which I did not come in last place, or as we called it: DFL (Dead Fucking Last). I was just the fun, fat kid.

Fast forward to college. (See photo above). Enough said, and I'm sparing you four years worth of whiny bullshit. You're welcome. Fast forward to post-college. I started going to the gym around December 2007, and I started out by using the elliptical. How they call this a piece of exercise equipment is beyond me; I could use it non-stop for 24 hours and not break a sweat. Many months later I took the leap and started going to spin class on a regular basis. If you want to get in shape, GO TO SPIN CLASS! This is when I gradually dropped the majority of my excess weight. Fast forward some more. I decided that I wanted to give running a try again, seeing as how I was in a much better physical state to do so. Naturally, whenever one starts a new physical activity, especially running, it's going to hurt and be uncomfortable. I think that's why most people quit and never try again. You have to push through the pain, annoyance, discomfort, and stick with it!

That's what I did. I stuck with it. I started my mileage count small. Two miles here, three miles there. Then I gradually got more accustomed to it and I pushed myself further. I've gone from running three miles at a moderately slow pace to running 12 miles at a rather fast pace. Note: my training schedule has me running 16 miles this Sunday, and 20 miles two weeks later.

The week of Thanksgiving 2010 I wrestled with the thought of doing something serious with my new found passion: I decided that I wanted to run a marathon. Unfortunately, the Seattle Marathon was in a few days, and that was not an option. No one just throws themselves into a marathon. This shit is real. Trust me.

Well, Seattle 2010 wasn't an option, so I agreed on Seattle 2011. The downside is that I would have to wait an entire year before I could get the opportunity to run in the race. So, I did a little research and I found out that Vancouver, B.C.--a few hours drive from here--was having its marathon on May 1. And thus, I decided on making that my first marathon experience. I couldn't stop talking about it with everyone around me. I was too excited! However, I didn't want to be all talk and then somehow miss out on the opportunity; so I registered for the race immediately with the $130 that I did not have to spare at that moment. No refunds = there's no turning back. Well, I guess I could turn back, but I might as well throw all that money down the toilet.

And now we are caught up to the present moment. I'm in great shape--I'd still like to drop some more weight, but that's neither here nor there right now--and I have complete confidence that not only will I finish this race, but I will do so in under four hours. To be frank, my absolute goal is to finish under three and a half hours. As of right now, I am on track to do so. It's like a drug addict who needs his fix. I need to run long distances, and I need to do it often. I've become so enraptured by long distance running that I'm already planning my next two marathons: Seattle 2011 and San Francisco 2012.

Lastly, as I've made these enormous changes in my life over the course of several years, I've gone through noticeable phases; a new one will begin the moment after I cross that finish line on May 1, and I am preparing something to symbolize that moment. (Hint: the answer is in the colors.) Stay tuned.

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