Candace Ganger
December 08, 2016 5:24 pm
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After a somewhat (okay, totally) inactive childhood, I began running in an effort to lose my post-pregnancy weight that wouldn’t otherwise budge. I didn’t feel healthy or good about myself, and knew I needed to find something at least halfway enjoyable to make the changes necessary.

One day, on a walk to the donut shop in town, I realized it was near time for my husband to leave for work. I had two choices: Turn around and go home without my beloved pastry, or pick up the pace. Long story short, I ran to the donut shop because I wanted it that bad. In retrospect, I see where my problems lie — but this was the first step in a series of steps toward becoming a runner.

It felt neither easy or fun to run in non-supportive shoes and baggy sweats — and yet once I got home, I decided I hated it enough to try again the next day (because running is complicated like that).

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In the four years since that first terrible jog, I’ve completed dozens of competitive races ranging from 5k-50k in distance, sometimes coming in first in my age group — and even a couple of times as overall female.

I’ve come a long way, yet I still never feel like I’m doing enough. I want to be faster, run longer, and feel better. Currently, I’m training for 2 marathons held two months apart. I attempted this kind of duo one other time where, after my first full marathon, I ran a 50k less than two months after. Though my “can-do” attitude was a must, I left that 2nd race with a stress fracture. Needless to say, I’ve been feeling overly cautious and somewhat hesitant in my training at the present.

Quitting isn’t in my DNA, so aside from a few fears to get past, I’m confident I’ll finish these races — no matter how difficult they prove to be.

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What I’ve learned is that no matter how much I run or how many races I do, the thought process is always the same during the race itself.

Here are all the thoughts I have while running a marathon.

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Mile 1

Running is the best. I love it. I’m so happy I have two strong feet and legs to run on. The sun is shining, the air is pleasant, it’s such a great day! I love life. I love everything about everything.

Mile 2

My playlist is awesome! I could listen to this music all day. It’s also really nice to get some fresh air, alone, where I can bask in the beauty of the earth.

Miles 3-5

I’ve run this mileage so many times, it’s like nothing. The weather is perfect now — but I think it’s getting hotter/colder. Maybe it’s in my head. Running is fun! It really, really is.

Miles 6-8

It’s DEFINITELY getting hotter/colder. Maybe I should’ve dressed differently. Did I already hear this song? I feel great. I do. Now, to distract myself, I will think about all the bills that need to be paid.

Miles 9, 10

I could stop now if I wanted to — but I don’t want to. There’s too much to think about. I’ll go over my next book outline, and tomorrow’s schedule, and all the embarrassing things I’ve ever said and done in my life. This is great for my mind and body — and my legs aren’t cramping. They really aren’t. Wait — I’m only at mile 10? Feels like a lot farther. I have water and nutrition. I’m fine. Everything is fine. Except that awkward thing I said at that event last week. How many more times can I replay it in my head?

Miles 11-13

If I stop now, that’s still a great run! How many others do this kind of mileage? That’s a half marathon. I should veer off with the rest of them and just finish this thing up. Everyone will still be proud of me. Wait. I missed my turn. Now I have to finish the other half. Ugh — and I know I heard that song already. No worries. I’ll keep going because higher numbers are super impressive! Plus, I want my finisher’s medal.

Miles 14-18

Will my kids even remember me when I return? It feels like I’ve been gone all day. It’s way too hot/cold now. Why did I do this to myself? WHY? I can’t cry because the other runners aren’t. Maybe they’re crying on the inside? Maybe we’re collectively dying and no one will just cry out loud already. Oh, wait — I like this song!

Miles 19-22

I’m never running again. NEVER. (insert expletives)

Miles 23-25

I hate my life. These shoes are worthless. My hips feel broken. I have blisters everywhere. I hate running. I hate everything about everything. I think I’m dying. If I check my pulse, it’s probably non-existent. YES — I’M CRYING ON THE OUTSIDE NOW. I want to go home! I’ll do anything! Please! ANYONE!!! SAVE ME!

Mile 26.2

I did it! I finished and I’m alive and I got my finisher’s medal and I love myself and running and everything! YAY!!!

Post-race

I can’t wait to do another one because that was SO much fun!

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