The summer before I went off to college, my brother proposed an idea to me - let's run a marathon together.
I'd been a runner all through junior high and high school, but had not yet attempted the monster that is a marathon, so I said, "Sure. Let's do this." And began to train.
Training went well, and I was right on pace with my 12-week training plan when medicine stepped in.
As part of my requirements for entering college, I had to take a physical examination. As it turned out, I had two hernias (somehow I'd missed them), and would require surgery approximately two days before heading to school. As tough as this was going to be, I had a bigger problem: the recovery time meant that I would not be able to run for several weeks. Since this was about 8 weeks before the marathon, I knew that there was no way would I be able to train adequately in that amount of time. I had to pull out of the marathon.
My brother was very understanding. My mother, who had run a marathon already in her life, would run it with him, as would several of his other friends. No problem.
But then my mom fell on a walk in San Francisco and broke her knee, and one by one, the people who were supposed to run the race had to pull out for one reason or another. Two weeks before the race, having not run a step since my surgery, I told my brother that I'd run it with him. No problem.
The first weekend of my fall break freshman year, I ran the Columbus Marathon in a time of about 4 hours and 30 minutes. Sure, I couldn't walk for the next week and I almost threw up on the ride home. I'd run a marathon, and no one could take that from me.
To this day, I still love the jaw-dropping effect that running a marathon has on people. You tell them you've run one (particularly without training), and they are just in awe of such a feat. Most say they could never complete a marathon, though I suspect for most people that's not true. Of course, you should never do one without training, but watch Biggest Loser. They end every season with a marathon. If they can do it, so can you.
So, what could be more impressive than running a marathon? Running another marathon! But I would train for the next one and see what kind of time I could get. Again, my brother had a great idea: 50 marathons in 50 states. I love it!
Sadly, my brother's knees took a great deal of damage during his marathon outings, and his doctors have advised him to stop running them. And as for me, it's been over 8 years since that first marathon, and I haven't done another.
Until now. I will have my second marathon in my second state on February 20th when I run the Austin Marathon. And after that, another race in another state. I will run 50 marathons in 50 states by age 50. I've got the time, and I think I have the will. I have to keep myself at it, and no one can stop me but me.
This is something I want to do for myself. I'll get to see the country. I'll stay in great shape. No doubt, I'll make an awesome t-shirt. And, I'll have something to write about along the way. I like to write, but I really want to get better at it, and that'll only happen if I keep at it.
I'm in week five of my training, and I've run almost 80 miles in that time. I've got a five-miler later today, so I'll let you know how it goes.
50 in 50 by 50. Up next, #2 Austin, Texas.