This past Sunday was the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon and Marathon, but today’s story starts a little earlier than that… then it takes a couple turns. 🙂
In 2008, not even a month after I signed up with Team In Training, I volunteered to help them with the “half marathon finish line” during the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon (in quotes because at the time the half marathon finish was only RnR official for TNT participants and not an official RnR race that anyone could register for). It was the first time I’d ever been to a race and I didn’t know what to expect. I knew I was going to love helping TNT, but I didn’t expect to watch the race much and I thought if I did have a chance that it’d be boring to “just watch people run.”
I was surprised to discover that I loved everything about it. It was incredible watching the race and I was so glad that I had time to watch and cheer for as long as I did. The runners were inspiring and the energy was overwhelming. It made me SO excited for my own race that Fall (especially since my race would not be “just running”).
A couple years later, the half marathon course was officially added to the race weekend, but it still wasn’t something I’d ever considered doing because “I don’t run.” Famous last words.
Well, I’ve obviously done some running and I’ve done many “just running” races. Still, I never did sign up to run RnR. I was happy to run Disney exclusively. #everymileismagic
I’ve always been so grateful for the spectators at every single race: the people on the sidelines watching, smiling, clapping, cheering, holding signs… it all made such a difference. There are still signs I think back to and smile (this past Tink’s “Run like shin splits are a pre-existing condition,” for example). At one time, the half marathon course went right by my old place, so I’d pop out for a bit before heading to the gym to cheer the runners along knowing how it felt to be the one running. I was totally good with not being the one on the course though.
Leading up to THIS weekend though? I found myself sort of jealous of all the runners getting ready for their races. I loved the energy and excitement they had getting ready for their races. I wanted to be getting ready to race. I wanted to be looking forward to the bling.
And so, I decided to get up early and drive over to the course from my current place to spectate, to support those running, and really just to be a part of it in the way that I could. I even made a sign. And oh, how I agonized over what my sign should say! Just like that first race, I was filled with that amazing spirit that comes from the running community. Perhaps even more so! It was even more exciting to watch in person this time (as most of my recent spectating has largely been by way of Boston Marathon livestream, #Breaking2 livestream (OMG), and Olympic coverage), especially having been the runner before.
There were runners of all shapes and sizes. They were young and old, some were in costume and others sported their charity’s team shirts. I saw parents and loved ones pushing strollers and others pushing themselves in the wheelchair division. I watched as the speedy elites sped by so fast that they’re a little blurry in the photos I did get, but I also watched as a woman with a cane power walked with purpose (and when I say power walked, I mean she was definitely moving briskly) and a 94-year-old woman on her way to claiming the world record as the oldest half marathon finisher (Harriette is my hero – she’s still the oldest marathoner with the record she set two years ago). They were all fierce. The focus, the dedication, the effort. I don’t know if I can really put how inspired I was into words.
Now, you see, the last few months I’ve been considering the marathon distance. It’s a distance I’d always said I didn’t feel the need to do. It’s a distance that I said was crazy (it is). It’s a distance that I didn’t say never to (because never say never), but I really felt like I wouldn’t ever do. I was good with the half marathon distance. But, there I was pondering it on and off. It started off casually enough, “Well, if I did, where would I want it to be?” A couple awesome friends completed their first marathons this year and I was SO proud of them and SO impressed by their bravery, dedication, and effort. And still, I thought, “I could never do that many miles. I wouldn’t want to do that many miles. Well, but, if I did… but, I probably won’t.”
I’d once assumed that if I ever did decide to take the full marathon plunge, it’d have to be the Walt Disney World Marathon… because Disney. OBVIOUSLY. And also because Expedition Everest and MAYBE a margarita from Mexico for the finish line. Then, one of the aforementioned friends finished her first marathon in my hometown and I thought, well, maybe closer to home would be better IF I did it. PLUS, that course is almost all downhill and wouldn’t that make 26.2 miles a little more bearable? And maybe my family could come cheer and that’d be nice? But Disney World… But 26.2 miles.
Well, I’m sure you’ve figured out where this story is going.
What if my first (or only?) marathon was in MY city and on MY streets? What if my first marathon was the very first one I ever watched? What if it was the one that lit the spark? What if it was the one I never imagined doing until suddenly I could imagine it? What if I could dream THAT big? What if I moved from spectator to runner? What if I finally stepped off the sidelines at RnR San Diego?
So, filled with a lot of nerves, a little fear, and tons of excitement, on Sunday night, after following people’s stories of their races all day, I signed up for my first marathon.
Next June, I tackle 26.2 miles. Right here at home. ❤
Did you run RnR last weekend?
Have you run a marathon? Share your inspiration, tips, tricks, articles… anything you’ve got in the comments!! 🙂