In 490 B.C., legend has it that a messenger, this dude named Pheidippides, was tasked with the important duty of giving the word of ancient Greek’s victory over the Persians. Filled with excitement and adrenaline perhaps, this messenger ran from Marathon to Athens, delivered the message, collapsed and died… This was the inspiration at the first modern Olympics of 1896. They decided to have an epic long distance run, took the distance from this legend and called it the Marathon! (Cue the angels singing “ahhhhh” in an angelic voice.) I’ve actually gotten a couple different mileage from different sources, it wasn’t quite 26.2 miles in the beginning, but after a few years of inspired marathon races beginning to sweep the world, the 26.2 miles eventually became the official standard.
So, to summarize! We took an inspired distance where the dude died. He f’ing collapsed in exhaustion and took no more breaths of life. Then someone felt inspired to make this a thing. This thing caught on in popularity so much since then that today in 2017, on March 19th, 25,000 crazy people (including myself) will take part in the Los Angeles Marathon, inspired by Mr. Pheidippides’ death.
Why would anyone want to put themselves through all of that pain, exhaustion, and torture? I’ve thought this many times during my long training runs as I’ve fought Negative Christianna from convincing me to stop and give up.
“Stop talking, let’s put it into context!” pipes in Positive Christianna. (Seriously I do have days where I just want to punch this Christianna in the face and go Netflix and pizza binge with my Negative friend.) But, I’ll listen to any glimmer of hope my Positive side can offer, even if it’s just delirium from the exhaustion at 17 miles of a 22-mile day setting in.
So! Context, here we go!
How old was Pheidippides? Did he run often? Did he run long distances often? How was his health? What was his diet? Did he have water with him? Maybe, but did he have electrolytes with him? Did he have food fuel with him? What was the weather like? What time of day was it? Was it a scorching hot sun the whole way? Maybe there was so much excitement in the last couple days that he hadn’t slept in the last 24-48 hours?
I’ve realized a couple things throughout the last 16 long weeks of training and having ran almost 400 miles in the past 4 months.
You can’t just decide to run a marathon and overnight transform into a marathoner just because you decided to do so.
I can attest to the fact that all of this takes a lot of work, time, energy and even money. Maybe even more so for those of us working on our first marathon. Maybe even more so so for those of us who are overweight and new to the athletic game. I could be wrong, but I think that makes us more exciting than those who have bodies built for running and incredible speed. It comes more natural to these people. Don’t get me wrong, these people are a complete inspiration for me. I strive to be you, so dude, don’t get offended. But we overweight runners carry more. We carry the actual weight of our bodies and we carry the emotional weight of our struggles and failures. Despite all this, we chose to keep our legs running.
The struggle has been real. At the beginning of training I reassured myself that it would be okay if I ended up walking more times than running, it’s my first one and at least that’s a start. That was back when I was struggling to finish an 8-mile run and the holidays eating had ate away at my spirit. After putting so much focused intensity over time, even on making sure I did all the small 3 mile runs on weekdays, has given me amazing momentum.
After long battles over mind and body, I’m feeling so much stronger. I finished an amazing 22 miles with an amazing group of runners, and even though I may be far slower and stronger than these people, I felt equal. So many years of self-doubt and telling myself I was lesser than, except for this brief moment after 25 long years that I actually felt on par for a second.
No one said it would be easy, but damn it’s been hard.
The exhaustion I’ve felt these last couple weeks has been real. I’ve been so severely tired. Falling asleep on my girlfriend while we Facetime at 9 pm (she’s the one 4 hours ahead and with the excuse to fall asleep yet I’m the one actually doing it), deep dark circles under my eyes, and barely making it up at 8 am to roll into work 30 minutes late past 9.
I’d feel bad for my poor grumpy behavior but then I remind myself, “Yo Christianna, you ran 22 miles last weekend, like give yourself a break yo.”
Sometimes the aches and pains bring about thoughts and feelings that I’m weak and not meant for all this.
A year ago 3 miles was my longest distance. A year later and it’s now 22 miles. I’m slow and I have a long way to go this next year, but I still finished 22 miles. LET THAT SINK IN NEGATIVE NANCY CHRISTIANNA.
My life has been consumed by running, it’s taken away all my free time after work and it’s taking me towards new adventures and opportunities.
I’ll close with this:
Starting to run is not easy. It takes a lot of time and dedication to stay consistent. When you put in the work, though, it’s full of moments that fill you with so much joy.
That time I ran my first mile. =) That time I ran my fastest 5k. : ) That time I finished a half marathon 30 minutes faster than I expected to. : ) The moment I finished 22 miles with a great group of runners waiting at the end. =) That time I’ll cross the finish line in Santa Monica with my hands up, my energy drained but my spirit full and not dropping dead like Pheidippides did. : )
The takeaway from this post?
Fight that negative side of you and go soar in the positive. Make that version of you, your bf for life.
❤ In Loving Memery of Pheidippides ❤