Running a full marathon was never one of those things on my list that I really thought I’d accomplish. I can think of a 100 reasons of why I thought that I couldn’t do it/didn’t want to do it. I’ll try to keep it to a few obstacles…
- I don’t enjoy running. Honestly, I don’t. I’m not a “runner.”
- I have asthma.
- I get bored easily, so how on earth would running for 26.2 miles keep me occupied?
- I don’t like pain. Actually I’m kind of a baby when it comes to pain. Don’t ask Jeremy how our runs are together.
- I don’t have enough time. I’ve managed to book my schedule up pretty well over here.
Now for a few reasons why I paid money to run for that long of a period of time and become a “marathoner”:
- I don’t work full time, so in theory, I should have the more time than ever to train.
- Nagoya is a beautiful city to explore and run around. No neighborhood is really “unsafe,” so even when I got lost during my 20 mile run, I made it back home in one piece.
- A few friends were signing up for the full, so I’d have some company and accountability during months of training.
- As I’m getting into fitness coaching and personal training, if someone comes to me and asks for marathon advice or coaching, I want to be able to say “I’ve done it, and you can too.”
- Because I didn’t know if I could do it. It would stretch me physically and mentally more than I’ve ever done in one day (race day! and months of training leading up to it).
These thoughts of mine aren’t meant to sound like I’m bragging. I want to keep track of my time here in Japan and this race was a big commitment and accomplishment that pushed me far beyond my previous limits. Mentally I had to tell myself that I COULD do it from the day that I registered for the marathon to mile 26. I hit a few “walls” during the marathon. I started slowing down around mile 15. Then around mile 22 I told my friend that I had been running with to go ahead without me, I needed to walk and slow it down A LOT. My sister sent me Philippians 4:13 at this perfect time which really helped give me that extra push and reminder that I wasn’t doing it alone. I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me. My knees were really starting to hurt me at this point. I managed to walk/jog with about 2 miles left… I was trying to keep moving but it was so difficult. Another blonde girl started running next to me and asked, “so what hurts you?” We chatted for about 60 seconds then she started walking. I was so grateful for the brief distraction. Only 1/2 mile left in the race and I begin to high five everyone I passed to keep my mind distracted. My new friend appeared next to me again and we got to celebrate while crossing the finish line of our first marathon
This was quite the experience. Not only running a marathon for the first time, but participating in a race in Japan. Jeremy and I ran one half marathon in Cleveland in 2012, so we don’t have a TON of race days to compare it too, but I could definitely see some differences.
During the marathon expo and packet pick up the few days before the race, we went through the usual motions of picking up my race day number/bib and walking through the running expo in the Nagoya dome. We were immediately caught in lines of people everywhere. If I haven’t already mentioned it in previous blogs, Japanese people love standing in lines. They are just so patient. There was a long line to take a picture with bread. And
another long line to take a picture of a silver platter. We chose to spend our time elsewhere. Like watching the group stretches led by a women on stage. This of course occurred on race day morning again, when thousands of people did the exact same stretch in unison.
During the race, spectators were cheering us on for most of the day. It really was a fun atmosphere! I enjoyed running past traditional Japanese drums and Okinawan-inspired dancers near a shrine. Throughout the race, people were stopping to spray cooling and anti-inflammatory all over their bodies- it stunk so bad and I kept thinking I was inhaling cleaning supplies! Jeremy had endless good pictures of all of the costumes that people wore during the race. Even if you didn’t wear a costume there were so many women with false eyelashes on. The Japanese ALWAYS look put together, even during a marathon apparently.
Since the race was the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, we crossed the finish line to “Dancing Queen.” Right after crossing the finish line we were handed a little blue Tiffany box that was given to us on a silver platter. Our metal was a Tiffany necklace engraved with, “Go Women 2016.” Then we picked up our shirts- they told me I was a large and yes, it barely fit.
I’m sure everyone who is reading this currently has something that they would like to accomplish in the near future or maybe even farther future. When you believe in yourself, you will accomplish whatever dreams you have- big or small. Limits are self imposed. Accomplish whatever you’d like, but only when you know that the sky is the limit.
Ja mata, friends.