3 Things I Learned by Running a Marathon for Fun

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Last year, I crossed the finish line for the San Antonio Rock and Roll half with my friend, Rachelle. Her sister and mom were cheering us on at the finish, and we ended on an endorphin high. She said to me, “next year, we’re running the marathon.” At first, I thought to myself, there’s no way. I’ve always been a half-marathon runner, a 10k or 5k fun runner, I always figured a marathon would never be me.

This December, we crossed the finish line together. I don’t remember my time (I could probably look it up), but I do remember the excitement that came with accomplishing something together. This marathon turned the corner for me, and made me realize that a lot of milestones in life are best accomplished together.

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1. Sometimes your friends have more faith in you than you do in yourself.

Having a girl tribe for support can do wonders for your confidence and, subsequently, what you can accomplish. I thought I could never run a marathon, but after we finished Rachelle couldn’t believe it was actually her that pushed me to run the marathon. She said, “you’ve run trail 30ks and you didn’t think you could run a marathon?” It meant a lot to me that she never doubted my confidence or ability, and that’s why she made sure we did it and finished strong together. I’m thankful for the friends in my life that lift me up and help me achieve things I never thought were possible.

2. It’s easy to push away negative thoughts when you’re around positive people.

I’ve heard so many marathon horror stories, especially about the 23rd mile wall. I didn’t hit that wall, or any wall for that matter. We spent mile 21 singing Spice Girls’ “Wannabe,” we talked to a World Record-breaking female marathoner, we ran three miles with Rachelle’s sister who was a constant source of support— there with us for part of the run and holding up her “Power Up” sign. When Rachelle felt like she couldn’t do it around mile 18, we talked through it, and the other marathoners helped us through. The experience was so uplifting, and it really felt like you were surrounded by people who were cheering you on. The negativity did not surface for me, even when my legs felt like Jell-O. Whenever someone asks me if I’d run another marathon, I always say “I’d run another one, but not alone,” because to me, this is definitely more fun as a team sport.

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3. The still, reflective moments of running are priceless.

There were times when we were quiet, and just taking in the scenery and running all the miles. I took that time to reflect, to think about the last year and what I want to do in the next year. Usually for a half-marathon, I’ve always been focused around time, checking my watch, trying to keep a consistent pace, but aiming just to finish brought out some real reflective thoughts for my business, myself and the year ahead. I also spent time taking in the moments, remembering that it’s so special that Rachelle wanted to do a whole 26-mile run with me, it really meant a lot. Living in the moment is always a work in progress for me, and the time I had during that run really made me aware that I need to spend more time in the present.

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When we finished, I jumped at the finish line. I started running back in 2012 to get through some of the hardest times in my life. I remembered getting winded when I tried to run a half-mile and struggling through because I had to start exercising to get my health on track. It felt good to finally be a marathoner. It’s not something I ever would have pictured myself doing, but that’s why it’s so important to have those solid friends that help me do more than I ever thought I could.

Janet Gonzales

Janet is a grant writer, figure skater, and endless traveler. She lives in Salt Lake City with her husband Blake and dog Lagniappe. Connect on LinkedIn

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