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I’m About to Run My First Marathon, And…

02.11.16

Challenges

AHHHH, YOU GUYS, I am about to run my very first marathon. And I’d be lying if I said that emotions weren’t running high. They’re running REAL high.

In case you haven’t read my previous marathon posts, let me catch you up to speed: I’ve been training for the LA Marathon with Team NutriBullet since September, and the race is THIS SUNDAY. I have always wanted to tackle a full marathon, but the main thing holding me back from committing to one was purely just fear. I was terribly afraid that I wouldn’t train hard enough which would result in me either getting hurt while running it or having to bow out of running it entirely. I was also afraid that I didn’t have enough time to train the right way, or that it wasn’t the right time. AND I was afraid that because of my extreme past, that I would take the training too far and overexert myself (i.e. get hurt) or have time for nothing in my life other than running. (Kinda like when I had time for nothing in my life other than veganism because of how extreme I was about it.)

What I felt more comfortable doing was signing up for a half marathon and proving to myself that I could fully commit to the training process, so that’s what I *originally* set out to do. The reason for that is that I have run three half marathons in the last few years, and every single time I fell off the training wagon sometime several weeks before the race. Because of who I am and because I always push myself to my limits when it really comes down to it — I ended up running all three races even though I wasn’t prepared. The most I’d ever run in the training process for each of the three was 6 or 7 miles at a time. So the full 13.1 was always a doozy — BUT it was doable, considering how active I am to begin with. I just have never been much of an outdoor runner, so the word “sore” would be a vast understatement for a week or two after all three races…

When word got around that I wanted to run a half marathon (I blog for a living, so my words tend to “get around” pretty quickly), one of my fellow OrangeTheory Fitness Ambassadors (whom I had yet to meet at the time) asked me whether I’d be interested in training for a full marathon. My first response? HELL NO.

Enter Jimmy Dean Freeman. He is one persistent dude, and I mean that in the best way possible. He told me about the NutriBullet training program he was coaching, and assured me that there would be many, many other first-time marathoners on the team. He also told me there would be five coaches & a bunch of mentors who had participated on the team in previous seasons. Oh, and an added bonus, I would get the half marathon I was looking for, because there was a 5k, 10k and half marathon scheduled into the training program.

I told him that all sounded awesome, and deep down I knew it was exactly what I needed if I was ever going to tackle a full marathon, but I was still scared.

“But… I have a book coming out in November!!” I told him.

“So? We only train on the weekends and Wednesday nights.”

“I know, but I’m going to be traveling a lot when it comes out, so I don’t know…”

“Why don’t you work your schedule around it? Travel during the weekdays and come back on the weekends. It’s worth it.”

Hmmmm. Well that all seemed true. And I did just get a kitten so I knew I wasn’t going to be traveling as often as I was used to. But still! The fear. My one last-ditch attempt at letting my fear take over was telling him that while it all sounded GREAT, I would prefer to participate up until the half marathon in January and that would be enough for me. Then I’d be done.

His response? “That’s not an option.”

And after a little more back and forth (all over a few juices at Juice Crafters with his adorable baby girl Bardot hangin’ in her baby carrier), he convinced me. That was that. I committed to applying.

Then I applied to the program, got accepted, and the rest was history. We began training 6 months ago (SO HARD TO BELIEVE), and I walked in to the team of 100+ people knowing only two of them, not counting Jimmy. It was a little intimidating to say the least… Especially because the one person I knew really well wasn’t at our first couple of practices. Plus, for all I knew, everyone else ran alllll the time and I’d be the slowest person out there.

But that totally didn’t happen. On our first run, it was clear to me that while there were super experienced runners on our team, there were also runners of all levels, and everyone seemed really friendly and open. There’s something about running alongside someone for 1, 2, 3, 4+ hours that makes it easy to be vulnerable with them and start to share things about yourself that you might not even know until you find yourself saying aloud.

And that bond only intensifies when you train alongside a group of people for 6 full months, all with one crazy big goal at the end of the journey to look forward to and to keep at the forefront of your mind. It’s an amazing feeling to know that there are so many other people in your life who are feeling A LOT of the emotions that you’re going through… the anxieties, the fears, the doubts, the excitement, all the ups & downs.

Speaking of– on a more personal level, the rapidly approaching marathon has brought up some serious emotions for me. A lot of the emotions I’m experiencing aren’t even in relation to the marathon itself, but rather about other aspects of my life that I’m starting to view differently under the lens of this one huge, intense goal approaching.

This isn’t particularly shocking, because I tend to react strongly to all sorts of big things in my life. When one huge event is about to happen, it kickstarts something inside of me that makes all the “maybe I’d change that” parts of my life seem way, way, way more important than ever before and as if they need to be acted upon right then and there.

I try to look at all of them pragmatically — but in all honesty, I usually just feel like an anxious mess until I work out each issue individually. Maybe that means I shove a lot of things under the rug until I can’t hide from them anymore? Yeah, probably.

But instead of viewing that side of me in a negative light, I actually see a lot of positives in my inability to be content when I know that certain things in my life aren’t going well. It enables me to be in touch with my spiritual side, because when I find myself tangled in anxiety and fear, I need the guidance of a stronger presence to help me reflect. It draws me to yoga, meditation, journaling and most recently to an INSANELY awesome conversation with an animal communicator. I’ll go into more depth about that soon if anyone is interested… but it was one of the most therapeutic and cathartic experiences I’ve gone through in a long time.

That hyper-anxious side of me also brings me closer to those around me, because I veryyyy much value the guidance and advice of my close friends and family. It allows me to open up to them in a way that I simply don’t let myself when I am “pretending” like everything is going well (even when I don’t mean to pretend).

And ultimately — it helps me make decisions that enrich my life in the best ways possible in the end. Even if it means letting go of someone who’s been important to me, letting go of a commitment that I previously thought was necessary and important to my life, or making path-altering decisions when it comes to my business and brand. I know it can be shocking to some people, especially those close to me, that I can just let go of something immediately once I know I’m done with it. My parents even laugh about it (all the time)… but the truth is — I think I hold onto some things for SO LONG that by the time I realize they no longer serve a purpose in my life I need to get rid of them simultaneously.

I have also been doing a TON of reflection about where I am in life and where I want to go. As a full-time blogger, I have the ability to focus and hone in on any particular area that interests me the most… And I am currently figuring out what that will look like over the next few years. It could even mean going back to school to get a Masters degree (and finish it this time — lol), spending an extended period of time in another country, starting to teach yoga again, or all of the above.

Beyond where I’m going, I am really trying to focus on where I am right now, in this moment. I am taking control of my health in a way that I really haven’t over the last year and a half and trying to get my post-veganism hormone problems under control — and focusing on ME in the context of my own body rather than in the context of my brand/business all the time. Gotta take care of myself first!

I try to remember that all of this is exciting even though it can also feel overwhelming. And I want to give an immense thank you to Team NutriBullet, Jimmy Dean, and everyone I’ve grown close to on this team & from running in general for helping me reach not only the approaching marathon, but all of these reflections about my personal life that have given so much more clarity.

This whole experience has taught me SO MUCH, but I think my main takeaways are as follows…

  • Let go of fear and anxiety when it’s holding me back from committing to a big goal, because I am stronger than the fear and there are way more scary things in the world than my goals.
  • Be open to change and fluctuations in the daily routine of life, so that everything that bothers me doesn’t pile up when I just can’t hide from it anymore.
  • Try new things more often because they are the best way to really, really challenge myself and come out on the other side with an entirely new perspective.

What do you guys think?! Can you relate to parts of what I’m feeling (or maybe all of it)? What about you marathon runners out there… What should I expect come Sunday?!