When I was in my junior year of college, I had the crazy idea of training for a half-marathon.
My history with running is rather absurd, actually. In high school, it somehow turned out that all my best friends were the stars of the cross-country team, while I could barely run a mile. I hated all sports but skiing, and as a proud bookworm, gym class was my daily hour of hell (except during ping-pong week; who doesn’t love ping-pong week?). And yet I so admired my athletic friends! Well, true to form as Stubborn Independent Girl, the second gym class wasn’t required anymore, I quietly joined a gym. And by the time I graduated from high school, I was ready to start running seriously.
It occurred to me that because I was going to college in a whole new state, a full twelve hours’ drive from home, I could arrive there and tell all my fabulous new friends that I loved to run and no one would know the difference. This turned out to be absolutely true. I defined myself as a runner when I got to Linfield, and not only did I like it that people thought of me this way, but I found myself believing it too, and it became a reality.
By my junior year, I was ready for a bigger challenge. So I decided to train for the Eugene Half Marathon in the spring of my junior year. I was also taking 18 credits, competing in Speech & Debate and starring in a play, but pssh. “Not enough time” is a concept I still have a tough time wrapping my mind around.
Well, it turns out you actually need to know something about running long distances if you want to run a half marathon. I over-trained and found myself with tendonitis in my left knee about three weeks before the race. However, I learned a lot. I learned how to eat right, I learned how to manage my time better, and I learned how mental distance running is. I came out of the experience able to run about 8 miles slowly but consistently, happy I had tried, and knowing I would run a half-marathon someday.
Fast-forward to three years later, when I’m standing on the sidelines of the Athens marathon, watching marathon runners finish and absolutely sobbing underneath my aviators.
Folks, it’s time. I’m only working 20 hours a week, I’m in Europe, and I live on a farm with beautiful roads to run on. I’ll start training when I get back from Christmas break. Georgia, a fellow Fulbrighter based in Crete, and I will head to Prague in early April for the Hervis Half Marathon. And I know it will be hard, and I know at times I’ll wish I had never started training, but I feel ready to dig into this experience: the whole experience, not just the glory of finishing.
So I’m doing it.