On a perfect fall day in November in 2010, I ran the New York City Marathon for the first time. It felt somewhat serendipitous; after all, I had just moved to the city of my dreams (ever since I was a kid and pretended to be a stock broker on wall street) a few months prior and it seemed like such a great way to say hello to my new city.
Of course, the whole moving across the country, adjusting to a new job and dealing with my grandma passing away while trying to train for my fifth marathon… well, let’s say that it didn’t go well. I remember getting to the starting line at the NYC Marathon that year, feeling overwhelmed and unprepared with really no idea of how the race was going to go.
And it shocked me.
I ran nearly a 10 minute PR, feeling the energy of the city and like my legs were on cruise control, set on that eight minute pace that always felt so far out of reach. The last few miles were brutal, and I died off a bit — but set a new PR of 3:31.44. I don’t even think I had even exited the park before I knew that my next goal was even bigger: a sub 3:30. I mean, given my training and running a super tough course like NYC, I was able to pull out an amazing PR and a time that I knew — with the right focus — I could do it.
Now, seven years later at this weekend’s Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, I did it. I finally hit my A goal: a sub 3:30 with a finish in 3:28.35.
It was an amazing feeling, one that brought me to tears and made me hug the first person I saw as soon as I crossed the finish line. I could not believe it finally happened — I finally did it! And, much like the NYC Marathon seven years older, with an uneven training and feeling like I was so underprepared.
For the rest of the day on Saturday, I felt like there must have been some magic out on the course that day — and that’s why I PRed.
But no, that is not why I was finally able to attain what seemed like an impossible goal.
Sure, there were a few things that aligned — an awesome, fast course, along with some of the best marathon weather I’ve had over the 27 marathons I’ve now run. But, what got me to the finish line and hitting my goal is what I had inside me.
The thing about marathons, they are tough. They will break you down, chew you up and spit you right back out. Just when you think that you have it all figured out, the marathon will serve you a big dish of humble pie — forcing you back to page one and building yourself up all over again.
The fact that they are so tough, means that you can’t fake it. You can’t run a race and dominate it when you aren’t prepared; you can’t hit paces that you aren’t trained for. So, while for a minute, I thought that there was something magical about it, the magical thing was that the extra work, the dedication, the patience, the mental fortitude… that is what paid off and made it happen.
That little voice that I’ve had in my head for years; the one that has gotten stronger marathon after marathon when I’ve been oh-so-close to hitting my target, but missing it again and again; it’s FINALLY gone. I’ve finally quieted it, I’ve proven that it’s not right and that I can make a big goal — a huge goal — a reality.
I’ll have a full recap up later this week, along with some thoughts on what made my sub 3:30 dream come true… but for now, I’m relishing in the fact that yes, it DID happen.
And you know what else happened?
SHALANE WON THE NYC MARATHON!! I was lucky to watch this live, and it made me SO excited. I later read a Runner’s World article, and she’s been on her own seven-year journey since she first ran the NYC Marathon in 2010 as well. I LOVE that she finally got her win — again, something that she’s worked for and had the patience and dedication to get to the point where everything aligned.
What’s the longest you’ve worked towards a big goal? What’s a big goal you have on your plate right now?
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