True Story: I’m a Marathon-er

This is part of our True Story interview series, in which we talk to interesting, amazing people about things that they’ve done. Today we talk to Chrissy, of the awesome blog The New Me about her experience running 26 miles in one day without dying!

What made you decide to run a marathon?
Two years ago, when crafting my New Years Resolutions (an activity I take very seriously) I decided that running a 5K would be on the list. I used the Couch to 5K plan and three months later, I was able to cross that goal off my list. I kept up with running on and off over the next few months, but it wasn’t as fun without something to aim for. I am a person who thrives on PLANS and GOALS and LISTS, so I considered training for a 10K or a half marathon. I thought a full marathon would be overdoing it – marathons were for crazy people, real athletes. I would never be able to run 26.2 miles!But the second I decided it was impossible, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Thousands of people train and run marathons every year. If they could it, so could I. And if I could run a marathon, well – I could do anything!

Prior to training for this, what was your approach to fitness?
In high school, my friends played volleyball while I helped edit the literary magazine. I didn’t like competitive sports – the pressure made me sick to my stomach. On the other hand, I’ve always been casually active – I ride my bicycle everywhere, I love to walk my dog, I enjoy hiking, rock climbing and I was (and still am) into yoga. I even played roller derby for two years (which is when I started to get comfortable with competition) but I had never before trained for anything as specific – or big! – as a marathon.

How long did you train for the marathon? What did you do?
I trained for 8 months. I found two free training plans online – one for a half marathon and one for a full – and completed them back to back. My boyfriend decided to run the marathon as well, but he’s a much faster runner than I am so while we started runs together, we usually split up after the first few miles. I did a lot of running by myself, which was sometimes awesome (time to think, meditate, brainstorm, keep my own pace) and sometimes a total drag (long, lonely, and no one to motivate me).

While in training mode, I ran about 20-30 miles a week. During the week, I woke up at 6am and ran anywhere from 3 to 10 miles before I had to be at work at 8. Sundays were my long run day, and I just kept adding miles – 15, 16, 18. 20 was the longest distance I had to run during my training, which made me nervous, but everything I read said that was normal so I went with it. I also logged all my runs and made friends on dailymile which is a social networking site for runners, cyclists and swimmers. I learned a lot from the folks who posted there and seeing my miles pile up each week was a huge motivator!

Tell us about the running the marathon. Did you really see guys with bloody nipples? Did you throw glasses of water over your head?
I LOVED the marathon. I ran the Austin Marathon this past February and it was just as huge and awesome as I’d hoped. I did not see anybody with bloody nipples, but I did see many volunteers handing out sticks of Vaseline for chafers. In addition to the official volunteers and aid stations, there were a lot of unofficial people passing out things – animal crackers, mimosas, beer. Very tempting! The best part was that my name was printed on my bib and as I ran by, everyone was saying, “You can do it Chrissy! Looking good!”

Was there ever a point in the race when you thought you couldn’t continue? How’d you push through it?
At about mile 16 I started to hit the wall. I got excited and ran the first half too fast – classic rookie mistake! – and all I could think about was lying in the grass, taking a nap, and never ever running again. Just then, a girl caught up to me. She asked me how I was doing and I grunted something unintelligible. “Can you believe it?” she said. “Only ten miles left! See you at the finish line.”

And then she pulled ahead and disappeared.

At first I considered chasing her and strangling her, but then I realized that she was right. I was more than half way there. I’d run plenty of ten milers – often before work! Looking at it from a fresh angle helped and it was the push I needed to keep going. At another point I passed a man in his front yard who was blasting different songs as people ran by. When I approached, he played “Eye of the Tiger,” which is only the most awesome song, ever. I’ll admit it – I cried as I ran by him, my first pumping in the air. It was probably the best moment of my race. I didn’t have a finishing time in mind for the marathon – I just wanted to finish, period – but I did make it my goal to have fun, enjoy myself, and smile as much as possible. I finished the marathon in 4 hours and 43 minutes, and I can’t wait to do my next one. Mission accomplished!

Any recommendations for other people training for a marathon?
Pick a marathon that’s still a long ways off – 6 months to a year – and sign up as early as possible. Then train, train, train. Find a plan that works for you and take it slowly – especially if you’re a beginner. It’s really easy to get overzealous and injure yourself early on. Be flexible and forgiving. Life happens, even while you’re marathon training, and you have to be able to shift your priorities. Sometimes running will come first, and sometimes it will come last. Three weeks before the marathon I got bronchitis and I could barely breathe, let alone run. And as much as I wanted to run, I knew I had to scale back and let my body heal. Most of all, know that if I can run a marathon, anyone can. Nothing is impossible!

Have any of you run marathons? Any questions for Chrissy?

20 Comments

liz

i've never run a marathon (my personal record is 7 miles), and as i read the first part of the interview i imagined myself running and wondering if there was some way to blast "eye of the tiger" as i crossed the finish line with both fists in the air. and then she said someone was blasting it in their yard when she ran by! i could visualize it… what an awesome moment that must have been, in a day full of awesome momentsb!

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La Historiadora de Moda

I've run two half-marathons and one full marathon – all of them within the past year. I'd like to run some more over the next few years.

I ran my marathon to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through their Team in Training (TNT) program. It was an amazing if trying experience to raise over $2,000 for charity and to train for such a daunting event.

Congratulations to Chrissy on such a major accomplishment!

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The Pieces

What an awesome interview!! đŸ˜€ I am currently starting to train for my first half marathon later this year.. very excited! High five Sarah Von & Chrissy!

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*starr fish

Great profile! Congrats Chrissy! I used to be a non-runner too, but I've got three half marathons, two 25ks and several shorter races under my belt and am considering a marathon for the end of the summer. Running is one of my keys to sanity!

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Christie, Describe Happy

Chrissy I could kiss ya! About two weeks ago I decided to train for a half marathon. My first few runs felt incredible and then life hit. I am so glad to hear that sometimes other things take priority. I am letting my body do it's healing and then I'll be back out there. Congrats on such a big accomplishment and thank you for sharing your experience! Really inspiring! Sarah, thanks for bringing us such good stuff to read!

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Ari

Thanks for posting this great interview! How awesome to learn of another running Texas librarian! đŸ˜€ Congrats on finishing Austin!

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Chrissy

Thanks for the amazing comments, everyone! Sarah has the best readers. Y'all make me want to go run another marathon right now! đŸ™‚

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Jen

This is unbelievably inspiring! I've never been a runner, and while I admire those who run marathons, I never thought I could become one of them. Thank you for sharing, Chrissy! I'm actually thinking of starting to train for a 5K, just so I can prove to myself that I can.

Everyone's raving about Couch to 5K. Is that the best option out there for a training schedule? What did you use for your marathon training?

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Helen

I love watching the marathon on Tv, but running one? Ha.
Who knows, maybe one day. It's good to know that there are normal people and not just wannabe athletes that compete though đŸ™‚

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RB

I'm on the fourth week of the couch to 5k program. Reading this interview has really inspired me to keep going. Thanks Chrissy and Sarah!

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lorax

Thank you for that link and for you story!

I have always wanted to run, but have always been plagued by Texas allergies and never truly taught how. This summer, I'm moving to New Mexico and then Rhode Island. As a part of my new life (and one with less allergens), I'm going to start running outside using that program. And I'm going to sign up for a 5K! You've completely inspired me and enabled me to finally do something I have always wanted to.

THANK YOU!

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Chrissy

Jen – I think the Couch to 5K plan is worth the hype! You start out with a combination of walking and running, which is a great way to ease into running.

When I trained for the half and full marathons, I used a training tool from Runner's World, which helps you personalize your training based on your past running experience. I really like this tool and plan on using it when I run my next marathon, this January in Houston! http://www.runnersworld.com/cda/smartcoach/0,7148,s6-238-277-278-0-0-0,00.html

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Kelly

I JUST ran my first 5K, like, a week ago. I felt awesome after- I kept my number and everything.

This post definitely makes me want to go further! Thanks and congrats!

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Laura Elaine

Kudos to you Chrissy! I have no desire to ever run a marathon, but, yours was a great story. And the "Eye of the Tiger" part? Pretty much the best story ever. Made me laugh out loud. If there's ever a marathon going through my neighborhood, I will blast that song in your honor.

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AwesomeLoserGirls

This has to be one of my favorite posts, or at least in the top five! So inspirational and MOTIVATING!!! I've signed up for various running events throughout the summer- and right now, I'm pretty nervous about it! A marathon is on my to-do list, but not for a while- I've got training to do!!

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Tamar

My husband runs marathons, so I am pretty accquainted with bloody nipples (he covers them with band aids). I did a bootcamp-type program for women until I got to
5K. Even though I stopped running because of an injury, I still think about getting back into. NOTHING is more empowering than being able to pick yourself up off the coach, set a goal and and be able to rely on your body to get there. Oh, and I had fantastic abs, too.

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green ink

Brilliant story!! I'm hoping to run the London marathon next year, after watching it this year with tears running down my face as I watched the runners at the final mile! They all looked so exhausted but so determined to finish. It was so inspiring.

It's not something I ever thought I'd do, but I think the same as Chrissy – if I can run a marathon, I can do anything!!

Thanks for a great interview!

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stephanie alaine

i ran the AUSTIN half marathon this year!!!! i bet we crossed pathes and i gave you a HUGE high five!!! way to go!!! (it was SUCH a beautiful, glorious day!)

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alphaandomega

I've never been in a marathon, but my aunt was in a triathalon or two. She's amazing. Even if she didn't win, she completed them, which shows her determination.

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