I never thought I’d be part of the 43 percent of women in the world in 2013, and 42 percent of women in the word in 2012, to run a marathon.
Like most "average-sized" women, my strength dominated my speed, which was very discouraging playing team sports, constantly being coined as the slow one. After graduating from high school, I started to value exercise and healthy eating much more.
I joined competitive cheerleading as a way to motivate myself to stay in shape. Being around such confident women made me realize how strong of a person I truly am, and how simply being around such positive energy can change your outlook on your appearance.
Fast-forward to college. I ran my first 10k as a sophomore at DePaul. After realizing my potential, I put "run a half marathon" on my bucket list. Still undervaluing my potential, I was hesitant to shoot for the stars by adding "run a marathon."
While I studied abroad in Greece, my best friend and running buddy Lauren Kurash called me and said we should sign up to run the Chicago Marathon that fall. The first thing I thought was "there’s no way!" It’s not hard to convince me, so I agreed and signed up for what would be one of the greatest days of my life.
Here’s why the marathon truly changed my life, and why it could change yours, too...
There’s no feeling out there like the one you experience after completing something you never thought you could
Not in a million years did I think I would go from 10k to 26.2. Self-doubt is honestly the greatest challenge anybody will ever have to face when it comes to reaching a goal. It was my worst enemy and ultimately could have been the reason for why I didn’t finish.
But, the feeling you get when you pull through and accomplish something you never thought you could is unexplainable. Physically, nobody got me through this race except myself and that moment crossing the finish line is unbelievable.
You learn to fight for what YOU want
Some people might argue "anybody could run a marathon," but I believe otherwise. Sure, anybody could run it if they want to, but let’s face it... not everyone wants to, that’s the problem. If you want to run a marathon, even just a little bit, you learn to fight for it because YOU want to do it. Nobody can make you run a marathon other than yourself. It’s really something that forces you to find a certain motivation from within that gets you through the race.
You become confident in undeniable ways
I’ve never felt more confident since running a marathon. Not only do I feel confident while exercising, but I feel confident in my everyday life. As humans we face struggles every single minute of every single day, but the way you approach them and overcome the fight is what makes you or breaks you.
If I feel down I remind myself of the very moment I crossed the finish line after running 26.2 miles. The amount of pain I was in physically and mentally is incomparable to anything I’ve ever faced in my life. I know that I can get through anything after getting through that marathon.
You truly learn what commitment feels like
Running a consecutive 26.2 miles isn’t something you just do because you feel like it. It takes A LOT of training... A lot of time-consuming training and commitment.
"I can’t make it because I have to go on a long run" becomes a real-life excuse when you’re training for a marathon. I had to sacrifice doing a lot of things with friends and family because I was too busy training on weeknights or weekends.
After that day, I never thought I’d run another marathon again in my life. But, like I mentioned above, I’m easily persuaded so of course I signed up again the following year.
I didn’t think I’d experience the same feeling as the first year, but I did, and again I surprised myself with what I was capable of doing. Lauren and I even persuaded another friend of ours to sign up, Natalie Randazzo, and she surprised herself as well.
With this said, I encourage anybody who has even the slightest sense of urgency to run a marathon to just do it! What do you have to lose? I promise, you won’t regret it!
Photo Credit: Monica Kucera