Culture

3 Reasons That I Decided To Run My First Marathon

One runner reflects on why she decided to take the plunge and signed up for her first marathon after running 19 half marathons.

first marathon
Photo Credit: Carlsbad Marathon

I hit the registration button today and finally (officially) committed to my very first marathon: The TriCity Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon on Jan. 18, where I ran my half-marathon PR this year. It often comes as a shock to people when they discover I’ve never actually tackled the 26.2-mile distance. “But you’re always running,” they would say to me. True, but I’ve also avoided anything more than 13.1 miles like the plague—so much that I’ve racked up 19half marathon finishes to my zero marathon ones.

I guess it’s time to up the ante and go double or nothing on my twentieth half marathon!

I’m not sure if it’s normal to experience race-day-like nerves months out from go time, but that’s definitely one of my biggest problems right now. (Other problems include dirty running clothes all over my apartment and running shoes in every crevice of my life.) I don’t know about the rest of you marathoners, but I frequently find myself second-guessing every workout, wondering if it’s too little or too much, worrying that I’m not recovering properly, attempting to balance running and time with my boyfriend—the list goes on.

All of these doubts were all in my head before I even registered for the marathon; perhaps it was just a classic case of garbled emotions that didn’t have an outlet. Usually these nervous thoughts can be channeled into whatever cause or reason I have for running that day. Well, I hadn’t established a “reason” for this race—funny, since this one is kind of a big deal in my little runner world. So over 12 miles last weekend, I came up with three main points for running a marathon, and what came out was actually quite surprising:

1—I’m my own cause.

I’ve always been struck by someone else’s story of badassery. It was disturbing to me that nothing was really striking that nerve this time around. I started reflecting on my years of competition and the runner I’ve been and want to become. I decided, for the first time in probably 14 years, that I was running this race solely, 100%, completely for myself. There wasn’t any fancy glitter or fundraising dollars sprinkled on top—I’m running because I love to run.

2—I want a routine in my life.

I haven’t followed a training plan since high school, and I only did then because I had three coaches to report to if I didn’t. Although the early a.m. wake-up calls are sometimes difficult (especially as mornings get colder and blankets seem to get softer), I have yet to regret starting my day with a run or swim. I thank the training every day for getting my butt up and out, clocking upwards of 8 miles before breakfast, and motivating me to move full speed ahead into the longest runs of my life on the weekends.

3—I want to punch a ticket to Boston.

This one is key. There’s been a fine line drawn between wanting to get to Boston and feeling like you should want to get to Boston. This is probably the reason I’ve rejected marathons in the past; the competitive Caitlyn knew she would have to go for it, but the hesitant Caitlyn wasn’t sure if she actually wanted to go for it or if peer pressure was sinking in. I made this mistake in the past and didn’t want to do it again. However, similar to thousands of other spectating runners, seeing Meb win in April was just enough of a nudge to push me toward Boylston Street. I just have to experience it one time.

As I rounded off mile 12, those nerves evaporated. I was finally at peace with why I was out here, doing what I love without any question or outside voices in my head telling me how to do it. That dark cloud of question marks was no longer hanging over my head.

Look for #CbadCait on Instagram and Twitter—I will post all my marathon victories and woes along the way.