Last Sunday at the Mankato Marathon. I did what few people can say they’ve done in their lives, and that’s run a full (26.2 mile) marathon, completing the race 45 minutes earlier than the year before (4 hours 5 minutes finish time). It’s one of the most self-fulfilling accomplishments that I have attained so far in my life, and a couple of years ago, running an event like this would have never crossed my mind.
About two years ago, I was going into my sophomore year in college, and was looking for a new challenge in my life. At this point, I was beginning another year of school, worked a 9 to 5 job, and I had always lay awake at night trying to think of ways to try to incorporate my love of staying active and at the same time balance all the important things in my life, which included my education, family, friends, and career.
My love of staying active and my work ethic had kept me engaged for most of my life. I grew up on a dairy farm back home in Lonsdale, MN, which is about 45 miles north of Mankato. When I wasn’t in the field picking rocks or hauling wagons back home, I stayed active, played baseball, then eventually football and track & field in high school.
After I graduated from high school, I came to college looking for purpose, or at least a new challenge.
Freshman year, I started to participate in a variety of activities, including intramural sports, Sport Management Club, and other activities to keep me engaged. While these were fun to participate in, I never felt challenged enough to the point where I felt fulfilled.
Then when one day, I came across an ad for the Mankato Marathon in the summer of 2016.
Around this time, my friend, Tyler, was going through a difficult time in his life. His friend back home passed away due to complications of a brain aneurism, and Tyler began searching for a way to honor his fallen friend.
Days later, Tyler and I decided together at that point we were going to run the half marathon (13.1 miles) in honor of his friend.
At that point, we ran every Monday two months out leading up to the race, and we felt ready to go.
The day of the race came around, and Tyler & I ran like we were on a mission.
We finished the half-marathon, and we were able to get some closure for him and his friends back home. I felt great myself as well, feeling like I could run even longer after 13.1 miles.
Months later, my great aunt Eleanor died. At first, I thought of it nothing more than being a death in the family, since I was not very close to her growing up. As the family started uncovering her possessions in her house, they showed me a picture booklet of how she helped create the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN, and coached track runners in the Olympics when she was a cross-country coach at UMD.
I knew nothing of her work and became very curious of what she did. After looking through her work with past athletes, I came inspired to do something in her honor. I knew from that day on my new goal was to run the full marathon in her honor. Leading up to my first marathon, I tried to train the best I could, but I had my share of hardships.
I ran two times out of the week, scheduling runs, and working out leading up to the big day.
I did my best to stay healthy, but it was a big challenge for me, with binge eating and drinking habits always getting in the way of my training. Nevertheless, I trained four months straight from the day and felt ready to tackle the race.
My first time running the marathon was horrible.
By the 18th mile, I was out of gas and physically could not run anymore. I felt as if I failed myself, and the people who supported me. I finished the race just under 5 hours, and I never felt more tired in my entire life. My friend Hunter brought me home, and I could hardly walk up the stairs.
Days went on, and I was happy what I had accomplished, but I still had a voice in my head telling me that I could do better, that I could finish the race the way I wanted to. I listened to that voice, and decided to train for it again.
This time, I took the race seriously. I completely changed my routine six months out of race day. I ate healthier, and ran more miles leading up to the race than I ever did in my entire life.
I averaged about 15-30 miles of running per week, while committing to all my other outside duties of being a student. Leading up to the race, I was sick with a cold, and I could barely get up in the morning sometimes due to neck soreness. Thankfully, I was fully healthy come race day.
Last Sunday, I felt free. I ran the marathon all the way through, with minimal difficulty. It was peaceful being able to run during that time, and feel like you could take on anything during that time.
I finished the race, running the whole race all the way through, with my friends and family cheering me on at the end. It can’t get much better than that.
I never knew a huge race like this one would play a role in my life, but I’m glad it did. Now that I’ve accomplished the marathon, I’ll now be searching for my next event to tackle in life.