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Martini Fridays: How do you spell “Schuylkill?”

Like I mentioned earlier this week, the upside to leaping into a half marathon with little time to prepare for it was that my mind wasn’t full of thousands of worries, which had had weeks and weeks to grow. Instead, I was able to focus on just one simple mantra: This Isn’t My Race.

Which isn’t to say I was completely disinterested in the result, just that I found freedom in having only one job, which was to slow Kelly down for the first half of her much longer journey. I reasoned that I could always bail at mile 12 or so if my body just gave up and Kelly would still be well set up to run on. What I failed to account for (and realized at mile ten) was that stopping before the 13.1 mark would mean finding my own way back to the hotel, without money for cab fare or, indeed, any way to find a cab in the first place.

Pre-race fuel.
Pre-race fuel.

Because it Wasn’t My Race, I spent far too much time on my feet at the Mother Runner booth at the Expo the day before the race. It’s not that Dimity, SBS, and company are demanding, it’s that I was having a good time talking to other mother runners. Then SBS and I got a little bit turned around on our way back to the hotel and the long walk was much longer than it needed to be — but more scenic, I contend. By ten p.m., I was stretched out in bed in a state of quasi-consciousness while Dimity and Jo organized …. something that I never opened my eyes enough to look at. Maybe it involved posters? Or bikes? No idea.

Morning dawned and I flung on my running gear, complete with a number bib that said DENISE. Because of all of the pre-race reshuffling, I was running with the bib of Denise Dollar, one of the behind-the-scenes BAMRs. I can only tell you how confusing it was to hear “Go, Denise!” on the course while people were looking directly at me. I also stuck a little note of the back explaining to any potential emergency personnel that I would answer to “Adrienne” and what my husband’s cell number was. Better to be safe than sorry, right?

After choking down a bagel and some coffee, I hooked up with Kelly in the lobby. Then, after dropping SBS off in one of the speedier corrals, Kelly and I started are long and winding path back to the Blue Corral aka The Corral with Reasonable Expectations. Another mother runner Laura introduced herself the three of us ran together. When Kelly made a potty stop around mile eight, Laura ran on and, I hope, finished strong.

Our luxurious washroom.
Our luxurious washroom.

As for the rest of my part of the run, I did my best to force Kelly to slow down. When given just one job, I can be amazingly persistent — so much so that I was wondering if Kelly would sigh heavily at me the next time I reminded her that there really would still be bananas at the finish no matter when she got there.

I kept one eye out for Dimity, Denise (the real one), and Kelly’s daughter Carly, who we saw twice on the course, which gave us a boost each time. My Philly knitter friend Anj was camped out at mile 3.8 and cheered like the dickens when we ran past. While the neighborhoods we ran through were lovely, my favorite bit was toward the end when we were down by the Schuylkill. There’s just something soothing about running along a river. Plus, I knew that my part of this race was coming to a close, which was good because my legs were letting me know that they thought this last minute race was one of my more foolish ideas.

While it was nice to know I’d be done soon, peeling off at the 13 mile split was harder for me than I’d thought it would be. I knew Kelly would be in Jo’s more than capable hands. Still, a big part of me wanted to make sure my charge crossed the final finish line. Instead of losing my dang mind and running another 13.1, I spent the drive home checking social media — at appropriate stops, of course. I might have teared up just a tiny bit when I got word that Kelly had made it.

Another day, another medal. Ho hum.
Another day, another medal. Ho hum.

The downside to leaping into this half marathon was the frantic schedule shifting that forced me to drive four hours back home after two+ hours of running. While I did stop to stretch every hour or so, by the time I pulled into the driveway, getting out of the car required more willpower than the run itself had. Totally worth it — but my neighbors must have wondered why I was walking like the Tin Man after a week in a monsoon.

Here’s the thing: even though my post-race re-entry into real life has been rocky, what with the holiday, sore legs, the looming end of the semester, and a wicked sore throat, I’d do the exact same thing again in a heartbeat. And seeing Kelly, who doesn’t look like what my prejudice thinks a marathoner should look like, finish her race makes me think that I might have 26.2 in me, too.

But not anytime soon. I plan to devote the next few weeks to hard-core rest. I mean it this time.

My question this week -- if you've run a 26.2, what finally made you commit to your first one?

32 responses to “Martini Fridays: How do you spell “Schuylkill?”

  1. I ran my first marathon at age 46 in memory for my mother who died of CMML, a blood related cancer, at age 69. It gave me great motivation train for and cover the daunting distance, as I had only run a few half marathons and a 10 miler prior to that. I ran the MCM in DC for Team in Training who raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society with my sister and raised $7000 dollars to fight blood related cancers. Running my first marathon in memory of my mom made each mile meaningful and helped bring closure to her passing. And an added bonus, I qualified for the Boston Marathon and decided to run my second marathon in Beantown the next spring. I know my mom was smiling down at me and was both thankful and proud.

  2. I ran the 2014 MCM as my first marathon and it had some amazing moments. I choose to run this year because my husband was deployed for the 5th time & it gave me something to focus on while he is away, he is still gone and I signed up for the Army marathon now,lol it will be #2. I run with an amazing group of wear blue runners that honor the service & sacrifice of our American Military. They lined a whole mile of the MCM and it was awesome support for my first marathon. Excited to do it again on March 1st!

  3. I so wanted to do a full marathon this next year (2015), but this year, while training for a half I injured my hamstring, the kind of injury where I didn’t run for 3 months, and even now, I’m just running 1 mile a day. I don’t believe a marathon is in my near future, but maybe a half by next fall.

  4. Great story, especially the corral of reasonable expectations.

    What made me sign up for a marathon? I’d done enough halves so I knew I could stick to a training plan. The thought of running distances no longer scared me. I had a partner in my life who was telling me I could do it (more like ‘of course you can do it’). (Love you Matt!). There’s more of course, but having someone in my life telling me I could do it when I was considering it was probably what pushed me over the edge for signing up.

  5. When I turned 50, running a marathon was on my list of goals. New to running and not able to run a 5k without walking I crossed that out and changed it to a half marathon. After half a dozen or more halfs under my belt and inspired by Oprah (if she could do it, I could!), Biggest Loser participants and Kathrine Switzer (love her book Marathon Woman), I took the plunge and registered for my first full – training religiously with a local marathon running group/clinic. At 56 I ran my first and at 59 have done 5 to date. Can’t wait til January when I turn 60 with hopes of having Boston’s qualifying time within reach! Go for it!

  6. I started running in the 1970’s. I had run many distances over the years but not a marathon. I thought I would get hurt. When I turned 57 I added running a marathon before I’m 60 to my bucket list. I just ran my 4th in October! You can do this!
    I wish I had done it long ago! Trying to decide which one to shoot for next….

  7. I read the RW article by Amby Burfoot about when he ran the Athens marathon by doing a 30s/30s run/walk interval and I thought -I could do that! Then, I read Jeff Galloway’s “Marathon-you can do it” and I knew I HAD to do one. Just one, though. Before I got any older. I did Chicago in 2012, Disney in 2013, Big Sur in 2014, and soon to be Pittsburgh in 2015. I’ll tell you what I tell everyone. You don’t have to want to do a full, but if you want to do one, YOU CAN DO IT! Trust me, if I can anyone can.

  8. I wanted to run my first 26.2 before I turned 50. I ran it in Feb of 2011 and turned 50 in September. And is not how you spell Schuylkill, it’s how do you pronounce it. LOL!

  9. Ran my first 26.2 in Chicago this year after running my first half in New Orleans early in the year. My sister talked me into it and promised to train on my funky schedule. This meant that we ended up doing most long runs in the very early hours during the week so I could still be at work by 8 and home on the weekends with my son. Loved most all of it!!

  10. I was inspired by my BRF! She was, I mean is, normal like me and that got me thinking, “If she can do it then so can I!” So that’s how I know you can do it too!

    (I ran my first marathon last weekend. It was great!)

  11. Your reason for pondering a full is the same as mine for my first half. While picking up my race packet for my 4.5 mile leg of a marathon relay I glanced at, ok studied, the folks at the half marathon packet pick up. You know what, there weren’t super humans! Just regular folks like me. I thought, “Well, if they can do it then I can too.” I signed up for my first full this past October, at 45 years old. because I needed a fresh challenge. You can do it too, AM. We believe in you!

  12. I ran my first marathon back in 1993 when I was a SR in college. Our track coach never wanted us to run one until our sr. year, so I decided I would do it that year. I didn’t marathon train – just did my track season – so, needless to say it was a miserable experience. Miles 19-24 were a mess of pain and tears. I finished, though, and ran my second one in 1998, with much better training! I’ve since run 11 marathons and am getting ready to start training for #12 in January. I think you should go for it!

  13. I had run several halfs and got thinking that some day in the future I didn’t want to wonder if I could ever have done a full marathon, so I went ahead and signed up for one. It was supposed to be the only one I would ever do, and here I am training for a second one!!

  14. I’m 43 and i just got tired of my own inner critic beating me down with “Should have done that years ago, too late now, you’re too lazy to finish, too many other responsibilities, too old now…”
    Well, i just finished Marine Corp Marathon in October – cant hear the inner critic now!!!

  15. I will run my first full marathon in March. I’m doing it to celebrate turning 40, and I want to check it off my bucket list. I also want to flaunt it in the faces of everyone who ever doubted my athletic abilities when I was growing up. Ha!

  16. Two years ago, when I signed up for my second half, it was only $10 more to register for the full. Knowing that “someday” I wanted to do one, I thought, “well, we’ll just see how far I get in training, if I have to back down to the half then I’ve only lost 10 bucks” So I actually didn’t commit to the full race until I had gotton up to 15 or 16 mile training runs. Also, the same mindset as Parti’s comments, that I’m only getting older. So that’s how I decided. I just ran my second marathon, and I know there will be others!

  17. Nice to see the return of Martini Fridays 🙂

    I ran 2 marathons about 20 years ago. I had 2 friends who wanted to and I was just along for the ride. One of the dads watched the kids while we did our long runs.

    That was it for me. I like the half marathon distance much better. But I am very happy that I did them.

  18. I saw you ladies running around mile 10 and was with you till mile 12ish??? You ladies did great and it was a great race for all BAMR!!!!

  19. In my mind, the marathon distance is the ultimate test of physical, mental and emotional endurance. I wanted to see if I could push my body to that distance. I wanted to join the small percentage of people who finish a marathon.

  20. I’m so glad you jumped in to help Kelly out!

    I committed to my first 50k (skipping the marathon distance) when my coach told me she thought it was within reach this year. I didn’t expect her to say that but it was like she voiced a dream I had kept hidden in my heart and let it fly free.

  21. My husband had run several marathons and it was so inspiring to see people of all shapes and sizes cross the finish line so I thought why not? I had been running for 2 years and had completed a few half-marathons successfully so at the age of 48 I trained and ran my first marathon. Worth it.

  22. I finished my first marathon about 3 weeks ago. It was an amazing experience, both in training and racing. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever run a marthon when I started my running/weight loss journey almost 5 years ago. However, something inside of me wanted to know that I could do it. To tackle that distance and prove to myself, my kids and the world that if you want it bad enough, and have enough faith, anything is possible

  23. I knew I always wanted to do one, and every day I put it off, I was getting older. It would never be as easy as it would be today. So, I signeed up for the next race I could with time to train, the Run for the Red in the poconos, which finished up down the street I used to live on and into my old high school stadium. Family was all there to see. I was 42–oh yeah, it was my birthday, too! One might say it was kismet:)

  24. Fun memories! I wish we could have all connected Sunday after Philly. Congrats, by the way, on your half!

    Personally, I think it would be awesome if you ran a marathon because we would get at least 18 weeks more of Martini Fridays! 🙂 Think of the stories you’d have to share!

  25. I’d been running about 5 years and had completed 3 half marathons but wasn’t sure would ever run a marathon. The year I turned 50 our only child went off to college so marathon training became my “empty nest” project. My first marathon was the Oklahoma Memorial marathon in honor of the 168 victims of the April 19, 1995 bombing….having that motivation both during the training and while on the course was very inspiring. Since then I’ve only run one other marathon (Boston 2011) but now stick with half marathons since the training is not as time consuming.

  26. So it’s been literally another lifetime ago that I ran my first marathon and it was hotter than blazes. I ran it because running was the only thing that came easily to me and I loved the idea of the planning behind the training. Simple right? Hottest Pgh. marathon on record, I’m sure. It was great and did it again the next year. These aren’t exactly fresh legs, but another marathon teases me. I’ve got a long way to go. Great job, Adrienne!

  27. I wasn’t really sure, the jump from a half to a full seemed so HUGE, like crazy huge. The more I hemmed and hawed, the more I thought about it I was told if you’re *thinking* about running a marathon you’re probably ready to run a marathon.
    Then I saw this:
    http://running.competitor.com/2011/04/news/oldest-woman-to-finish-a-marathon-honored_24441

    92-year-old woman finishes marathon! Wasn’t hard to give in at that point, what was I waiting for? The biggest thing is to not think about the whole distance, you train and work yourself up to it. The hardest (& most time consuming) part is the training. I’ve done 3 total, would like to do 1 in the spring, but my schedule is crazy, so we’ll see.

  28. When I finished the NYC half in 2012 (my 2nd half ever) I felt like I could have kept going. Like some how crossing after the 13.1 miles just wasn’t enough. After getting that thought in my head I ran a few more half’s just to make sure that was what I wanted and to make sure those feelings of YES I can do this were still there. In October 2013 I ran the Detroit International Half which is also run with the full. I can honestly say I was feeling let down and kind of “abandoned” by my full marathon friends when I had to turn off to finish the half. I PR’d by 9 minutes that race so it wasn’t a bad race at all. So I figured 1 and maybe done for the full so pick what I wanted and reach for the stars. No regrets that I shoulda, coulda, woulda. November 2,2014. NYC Marathon was mine! I don’t regret it at all and am looking to maybe, most likely, run another one. I was given the opportunity through the Semper Fi Fund as a charity runner and would not have changed it for the world.

  29. I always thought marathoners were crazy. I would 13.1 with out training but doing it again- NO WAY. What changed my mind was when my husband told me I could do it and I should sign up for one. Knowing he believed in me made all the difference and I did run a marathon this year (Richmond). I am happy I did however I may just stick to half marathons. Through training I learned what I already know and that is 13.1 is the perfect long race distance for me!

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