April 27, 2014
Last long run. A lot has changed since this 16 week journey began. Our running group faced and conquered many challenges over the course of this training season. Perhaps the most difficult and obvious obstacle was a harsh winter that brought freezing temperatures, snow, ice and sleet. But that wasn't the only obstacle. We ran up long hills, traversed city bridges more times than I can count, and even had to deal with a sudden heat wave a few weeks ago.
Our last run of 10 miles had a cool start to the morning. But it was a beautiful morning! We ran through the neighborhoods of Shadyside, Point Breeze and East Liberty. Once we reached Oakland we starting seeing University of Pittsburgh graduates taking photos around campus. Dressed in caps and gowns you could see pride beaming from their faces. Maybe even more happy were the faces of their parents. It was pure joy. It made me feel hopeful, inspired and renewed.
We were enjoying our run so much in fact, we got lost. Not just a litte lost, but, "Crap I'm two miles away lost." So there really no choice but to run back. Although the extra two miles didn't bother my legs any, it did bother me mentally. I had ten miles in my head and I was ready to be done. I thought I would be enjoying a latte by now. At the time I was mad, but the more I thought about it, I realized that it was a good lesson to learn one week before the marathon.
Things won't go perfectly during the marathon. I doubt I will get lost, but I may lose an energy gel, or have my shoe come untied. Heck, I might even put my shorts on backwards the morning of the race. But it's not going to do any good to get upset or mad. I'll just be wasting energy. The marathon is a long race and I'm going to have to work through a solution whenever I encounter obstacles.
All of us, whether first time marathoners or repeat marathoners have defeated an obstacle in our path. The last run is always exciting, but for me it's also a little bit sad. I'm sure I'll learn to appreciate sleeping past 6 AM on Sundays once the marathon is over, but maybe in a perfect world, we would never get tired, we would never be hurting and we wouldn't have real world responsibilities so we could continue to conquer the roads of our great city.
Most of the people I've trained with I don't know outside of running, but I know their stride, I know their favorite hat or running jacket. I know if they are running their first or second marathon. You form a special bond when you run with people. You look at each other and you understand the sacrifice, the determination and the pain. You understand the lack of a social life on Saturday nights. You understand waking up in the dark and running in 17 degrees while the rest of the world sleeps. You understand constantly checking the hourly weather forecast for Sunday mornings. You don't question each others' goals. You know that you are here to simply be a better version of yourself.
All of this I will miss, but I know the end of the marathon is not the end of our running journey. It's just another chapter in our story. Running a marathon is extremely difficult. It can be grueling, intimidating and painful. But it also can be joyous, beautiful and amazing. What could be more amazing than achieving something that once seemed impossible? For this reason, the marathon is just the beginning. And once you conquer the marathon, you will know that you can do anything you put your mind to. Even what once seemed impossible.
Author: Sarah Warman
I like to run, take pictures and write. I've combined all three in this blog.