Getting to the Starting Line, Ramblings From My First Marathon

By:  Kris Berry

As I shared with you previously, I love to run.  It’s my little selfish outlet, time for myself to do something alone (or with a friend to chat with), it’s time to do something just for me.  It’s something I need in my life.  As my husband says, it keeps me sane.  My family knows when I need to run and, if I’m cranky, my kids will hand me my sneakers and tell me to go for a run.

As I already admitted, running has become a bit of an addiction for me.  It began innocently enough as a way to exercise. then I started running road races and realized how much I loved the excitement and the adrenaline rush that I got running in them.  A 10k turned into a ½ marathon.  Then that led to several more ½ marathons and the itchy little thought in the back of my head that maybe I could run a full marathon.  It’s something I have had on my “bucket list” for a while now, even before I started doing races.  So this year I signed up (and talked my poor sister-in-law into doing it with me).

About two months ago, I wasn’t sure I was actually going to get to the starting line.  Because of my training, I developed bursitis in my hip and tendinitis in my knee.  These conditions made it painful and very difficult for me to run.  I had to take an entire week off of running and then take it very slow and reduce my mileage for the rest of the training program.  This meant that I had to cut down two of my longest runs.  Sure, I wasn’t going for a Boston Qualifying time, but I had told myself that I was going to complete a marathon and I was disappointed that I was having set backs.  I went from trying to calculate what a “respectful finishing time” for me would be to just resolving to finish the thing.  Then, three days before the marathon I woke up with a cold that made me winded just walking up stairs.  I felt like cards were being stacked up against me.  A lot of people will tell you just getting to the starting line is the most important part of a training plan, it is totally true.

On October 16th I got in the starting line at the Baystate Marathon.  I told myself to really try to enjoy the run, take it all in, and realize what was happening every second of the way.  And as crazy as it sounds, I really did enjoy it, as much as a person can enjoy running 26.2 miles that is.  There were moments when I struggled, but I ran the entire thing, which was something I was totally not expecting, and I finished well within my goal time.   When I saw the 26 mile marker I burst into tears.  Of course, with a stuffy nose that only made things worse so I tried to hold back my emotions until I finished.  Then I rounded the corner to finish and saw my kids and my husband ringing their cow bells and cheering.  I blew them a kiss and crossed the finish line.  To say I was elated was a complete understatement.  I can’t articulate the feeling but, other than having my three children, nothing I have done in my life has made me prouder.

If I got anything out of this experience it is to not be afraid to try something outside of your comfort zone every once in a while.  Running a marathon isn’t something I would have ever thought was in the realm of possibilities for me.  But with the support of my family, and some pretty long training runs, I did it.  And for a not-so-fast runner, I kinda rocked it!  Will I run another marathon?  You betcha.  Just not for another few years (so I can forget about those 3+ hour training runs and my sore legs).

63 thoughts on “Getting to the Starting Line, Ramblings From My First Marathon

  1. I ran my one and only marathon prior to marriage and kids — the Cape Cod Marathon. IT was such a beautiful course, with great fans and bands along the way, and it felt soooo good crossing the finish line. For years afterward, I felt like “If I could run that marathon, I can do anything.”

    Congrats on your marathon!

  2. This is so inspiring. I’m still a newbie runner but hope to do a half next year. I got all teary eyed and proud of you when you wrote about the finish and your family What an amazing thing!

  3. Way to go! I walked a half marathon once and that was honestly hard enough for me! (It is important to note that if you are going walk or run on a hilly course, it is probably in your best interest to train where there are hills!). However, I agree that the experience of being surrounded by the crowds and entertainment is exhilirating and it really is the type of experience everyone should have once. It takes dedication and preparation and a smidge of mommy-selfishness to get it all done and I think that is a good thing. It shows your children that you love yourself too and that you deserve some pleasures beyond taking care of your family. Congratulations!

  4. I wish one day I will be able to do running with “a friend to chat with”. I envy people who are able to run and talk the same time. I am out of breath instantly. Congratulations!

  5. This is great! I just ran my first marathon as well. I am waiting for my selective memory to kick-in so I can forget how tiring and time consuming training is and be ready for another one! Good work!

  6. I will never ever forget my first (and only) marathon – I wanted to run again, train for two more, but injuries prevented me from finishing it, one of them had me limping after mile 12. It was very frustrating to complete the full training and have to quit, but… looking back I guess the most important thing is to enjoy each step and be glad we are all healthy enough to even consider doing it! 😉

    congratulations, and enjoy the feeling, it’s a high like no other!

  7. Congratulation! An outstanding achievement for sure! I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2000 and remember every amazing moment of those 26.2 miles (as well as the training leading up to it). It’s 2.62 mile runs for me these days, but you kinda got me inspired…..
    Congrats on being freshly pressed 🙂

  8. I have been running so long I almost don’t remember how it all started. I can relate to every observation you made and I applaud your accomplishment. The passion was passed to me from my Dad and now that he is gone I cherish the memories of those long runs with him. I hope you have those same experiences with your kids.

  9. I admire you tremendously! I simply do not have the endurance to do this kind of running, so hat’s off to you!

    Congratulations on your first marathon & for being Freshly Pressed!

  10. I was there too! I completed my first half though. It was a great course to do a first half marathon on and we had great weather. Congratulations on your accomplishment!

  11. it’s great to find a “healthy” addiction. although i tried the running thing, i got bored. my new healthy addiction is CrossFit…and i can completly relate to how you feel. it’s my selfish mental get-away. my cell phone is nowhere near me, my stress is gone, my troubles dissipate (temporarily). i love it. thanks for sharing and keep it up! a marathon is quite a feat.

  12. Thanks for sharing your story. I haven’t run in quite awhile, but I never did enjoy it, I’m glad you, and so many others, do enjoy a good run. For me, my marathon is the process of writing my first book intended for publication. Just like the smaller training runs, I’ve written stories, but not something so grand. I’m loving it, but my wife and I just started revamping and it means a significant rewrite to make it worthy of our readers. I guess that’s my bad cold I’m dealing with.

    Whether it’s running, writing, or something else, we can all use the boost of knowing were not alone in our struggle. Thanks for the inspiration to keep trucking.

    Eric Hotchkiss

  13. I have run 2 half-marathons in the past 4 years. One, right when I started losing weight in April 2008 (I ran at 375 lbs), the next in August 2008 (at 290 lbs). Hardest thing I’ve ever done, especially the SECOND time! The first time I had something to prove, the second, I already knew I could DO it, so I didn’t focus on training correctly, and VA Beach kicked my chubby white hind-parts.

  14. Congrats on your accomplishment!!! I completed the California International Marathon in 2004 (before marriage, kids, career) and am set to participate in the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday. I just did a 3.75 mile easy run in the rain today around the Marine Corps Memorial and across the arlington bridge to the Lincoln Memorial to get myself psyched for Sunday, but training was less than ideal this time around.

    I hope the “spirit” of the MCM will give me 26.2 miles of sites/sounds/experiences. I am going to follow your lead and “really try to enjoy the run, take it all in, and realize what was happening every second of the way.” I got a taste of the sites (memorials, potomac, graves in arlington cemetary, statues of great leaders) today and it was great — even in the rain.

    I am glad to see you were able to share it with your children. They have quite a role model.

    Thanks for your post, it was just was I need a few days before a the big race. Congrats again.

    David J. Miller

  15. I’ve never run a marathon before, although I have thought about it. I want to run a marathon eventually, just to be able to say that I did it. I absolutely love running, and this post was a really cool source of inspiration and encouragement. Thanks for posting, and congrats on being freshly pressed! Cheers.

  16. That’s great! One of my teachers ran the Chicago Marthon a few weekends ago. He was looking forward to it a lot and considered it a mental and physical game too. He ran the whole way up to the 23 mile marker. He says he remembered passing it but not the 24th. A friend he was running with had to fill in the gaps. In the middle of the 23rd mile his friend said that he told him he felt woozy and couldn’t run in a straight line. My teacher wanted to keep going but he made him stop. He was taken to a medical tent where his body temperature was at 107 degrees. The medical people had him take an ice bath and he was puking all over the place. He was rushed to the hospital and didn’t return to school for awhile due to kidney failure. He remembers waking up in the hospital the next day. Our class could tell he was upset that he didn’t finish, but he seemed excited that he had run 23 [possible 24, he doesn’t quite remember] miles without stopping. It’s awesome how you ran the WHOLE way and overcame your obsticales. Nice job!

  17. Great job! Running is my selfish obsession as well, and my wife and daughter know when I need to go for a run, and they are my biggest fans at races. My 5 year old ran a family fun run with me in March, and is doing another one with me in February at the Breast Cancer Marathon.
    Congratulations on finishing your first marathon!

  18. So inspiring! My hands were on my cheeks when I got to,

    When I saw the 26 mile marker I burst into tears. Of course, with a stuffy nose that only made things worse so I tried to hold back my emotions until I finished. Then I rounded the corner to finish and saw my kids and my husband ringing their cow bells and cheering. I blew them a kiss and crossed the finish line. To say I was elated was a complete understatement. I can’t articulate the feeling but, other than having my three children, nothing I have done in my life has made me prouder.

    You should be proud, mom. Bravo! for your tenacity and courage. I use to run, but the knees, however, I must have my yoga and pilates to keep me SANE. I look forward to hearing about your next race.


  19. I’m proud of you. I’ve only so far completed a 5K– no comparison, but the sense of accoumplishment when you set your mind to something, priceless–anything’s possible!
    Twitter: @Logpey

  20. Awesome! Congrats!

    I’m running a marathon on November 6th. I’ve had a strained groin muscle for about three weeks now. It gets better, and then I do my long run, and it’s back. I was also attacked by a pit bull who was deemed a dangerous animal and quarantined to make sure he didn’t have rabies (he didn’t have rabies and may he rest in peace). I was sick about halfway through my training which was frustrating because I had to take time off running.

    And now with only a week and a half to go, I’m paranoid of every little sniffle and sneeze. But nothing is going to keep me from running this thing. I’m excited about it.

    Once again, congrats,

  21. Hey, look at you! Nothing like running your first marathon and what a day for it! I ran the Bay State Half with my good friend (her first half) and it was the most perfect, beautiful day. I know you’ll be floating on air for a while–enjoy it! Congratulations on Freshly Pressed.

  22. hi Kris,
    congratulations on your full marathon and the really nice written post. You must really be proud ! last year, I ran the half-marathon and that’s enough for me. But in january 2013, I will run a “kinda-21-day” marathon : I will be climbing Aconcagua mt, in Argentina. Check out my blog if you’re interested and support our project by “liking” our facebook page !
    thx !

  23. What a great addiction to have!! Exercise is great for your physical health and also to clear your mind/stressors. Congrats on the marathons and FP!

  24. Congratulations! I’ve noticed a lot of people let fear/comfort zones hold them back from great achievements. Especially in health related situations. I’m real happy for you and thank you for sharing a great story 🙂

  25. Congratulations! I ran the Bay State half-marathon in 2004 as a training run for the New York City Marathon that November. It was great (both the half and the marathon). Running is a metaphor for life — half of the battle is just showing up and the satisfaction of finishing outweighs the aches and pains. And who knows? You may just run another! Each race is different from the last.

  26. That is so awesome!

    I ran my first half this year and felt on top of the world afterwards. I can only imagine what running a FULL marathon must feel like. Someday. 😀

    Good for you for training hard and running the marathon!!

  27. Congrats on your first marathon and being fresh pressed.
    I enjoy running (although nobody thinks that looking at me) and I want to run a marathon so badly, but I feel that I just don’t have the time, because my wife and I just had our first daughter. So thanks for the inspiration seeing that you have more than one kiddo and you still found the time to train and just run!

  28. I also love running! Just like you, it is a time for myself, myself and my iPod :-). I’m sorry my knees are not helping 😦 I’ve been an athlete my whole life, now I’m feeling its consequences.

  29. Wonderful story! I have been running for less than a year…..and now that it’s getting dark so early I have kind of tapered off. But I REALLY want to get back to it. I am planning on running an 8K Thanksgiving morning. So I need to suck it up, use my kids’ naptime, and go running on the weekends! Thanks for the increased motivation! I’m doing Disney Marathon 2015….at least that’s the plan. 🙂

  30. Congratulations! It is such a tremendous accomplishment, one that I hope to one day achieve as well. I love your description of how your family senses your bad mood and hands you your sneakers. I can totally relate as a mom of 3 kids under age 4 who loves to run. If you get a chance, please read my post “Running Waters Still Weep”. It is about how inspired I was by my sister-in-law who just ran her first marathon in Baltimore 2 weeks ago. It brought up a lot of emotions related to my father who just passed away 3 months ago. Thanks for sharing your story.

  31. All my adults kids love to run, they did the Bix in Iowa this year but none of them have attempted the Chicago marathon and they live fairly close by. Quite an achievement and you should be so proud of yourself. Great post.

  32. The pinnacle to the story was seeing your husband and 3 children. As a mother of 4 I was crying when I read that part. And I love that you did something that you thought was outside the realm of possibilities. My work is spending more time in the realm of possibilities as opposed to the “what is”. Thanks for sharing your triumph! Very inspiring!

  33. Congratulations on finishing the marathon. You should be very proud of yourself, because this is the thing that people trying to get a little fitter by taking up running(or jogging like me) can only dream of completing. well done and this storry was very inspiring thank you

  34. Great job–on the run and the article! Come to Colorado Springs to the Pikes Peak Marathon and add altitude sickness to the mix. My favorite lady was ascent only, probably late 50s, definitely a first timer. Her tennis shoes were tied with sparkly pink shoelaces. She walked a brisk pace from the end of the pack, and when a sideliner called out that she’d never win at that speed, she called back over her shoulder: “As long as I finish I win.” And she did finish, to much cheering.
    Keep up the great attitude.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s