Welcome to the 12 month marathon! My name is Kim, and my goal is to run a marathon, a mere year after beginning to run. You’ve heard of the Couch to 5K program–well, this is essentially the Couch to Marathon project. Project Marathon. Project…insanity?
Where it all began
In September of 2009, I attended my first marathon. Now, I’m not much for spectator sports, and I wasn’t particularly excited about watching a bunch of runners for five hours. A dear friend was running, though, and as the marathon was in Budapest, he had no support team. So, I hopped on a plane from Poland to act as his one-woman cheering section (no problem: I’m loud).
That dreary day changed my life. I watched the top-tier runners come in, looking fierce and focused. A man in the crowd laughed when I, talking to a friend on my cell phone, said, “Man, marathoners look downright miserable–why on earth would anyone want to do this?” As the clock inched toward 4:00, however, the pack began to change. The runners began to look less like all-muscle-and-bone-competitors and more like fit, healthy people. They were smiling and raising their arms to cheer with the crowd. They began to look happy.
But the best part, the most incredible part, was the athlete-crowd interaction. Every other sporting event I’ve seen has the “us against them” mentality, where the crowd is rooting for someone to lose. At the marathon, everyone was rooting for everyone to finish. I stood in one spot for an hour and a half while I waited for my friend to run by, and found myself cheering for others as they passed. The crowd was so supportive, and gave their loudest cheers to the runners who needed it most–the elderly, the slow, the injured. The more miserable someone looked, the more encouragement they got.
It was an incredible atmosphere.
My friend finished his first marathon just over 4 hours, and I stayed on the street, unable to stop watching. As the clock neared 5:30, the pack changed again. The back of the group was composed of the runners who were not regular athletes–just normal people doing an amazing thing: all shapes, all sizes, all ages. Watching their determined faces, I teared up as friends and families joined them to jog for a few hundred meters. One woman had an entire group of friends watching, who screamed and jumped around as she approached, and ran with her for a bit, wearing heels and carrying shopping bags.
I couldn’t get enough. And as I wandered back to the hostel before the post-marathon celebration with my friend, something clicked. More than a thought–more like absolute knowledge, down to my very center. “I’m going to do that. I’m going to run a marathon.”
How can you argue with that?
Couch to Marathon
I began running at the beginning of November 2009, and I plan to run the Chicago Marathon on October 10, 2010, just under 12 months later. Now, most sources advise against this. They say that before you train for a marathon, it is wise to have at least a year of running under your belt. By the time I start the official marathon training (May 23!), I’ll have been running for almost seven months.
Why do a marathon in a year?
Well, why not? I’m not one to do anything halfway or halfheartedly. After years of living with myself, I know that the most effective motivation is a big goal, preferably one that seems improbable or even impossible. If people say, “You can’t do it,” all the better…as my friends know, nothing fires me up more than being underestimated!
And for me, a marathon seems like a pretty darn big goal. It’s an exciting prospect, which I expect will keep me enthusiastic and motivated all year. Plus, there are multiple smaller races on the way, all new to me–5K, 10K, half marathon. Goodness knows I love a new challenge! Plus, I announced this marathon project to my friends and family, so I’m now publicly accountable.