I have yet to find a my first half or full marathon story that doesn't make me take a second to look up. When I opened my email to this "My First Marathon" I actually had to sit down for a minute. Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are to have people or ease on our side. I want to introduce you to a very driven and inspiring Run, Selfie, Repeater named Rachel who's "My First Marathon Story" will make you take a second to reevaluate your goals, pinpoint what's holding you back, and realize that there's more at stake than just being able to say you did it.
More and more I find myself announcing that I want do or accomplish something but can't find the motivation to get started. What do you do when you know you want to do something but can't bring yourself to make it happen? What happens when life gets in the way? And lastly what happens when the one thing you want so badly to do actually becomes impossible? I'll let Rachel explain...
My name is Rachel and my running story has been developing my whole life. I come from a very dedicated running family. My Mom, Dad, Sister, and Brother, 3 of my Uncles, and 10 of my Cousins are all marathon and half-marathon runners. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to one day run a marathon but I always made up excuses about why I couldn't. I would stand on the sidelines at races with my cowbell in one hand and encouraging sign in the other cheering on all of my family members. I would run from time-to-time with my Dad but that was the extent of my running for many years. I kept the idea of a marathon in the back of my mind, but had absolutely no intent on acting on this dream for a very long time.
In November of 2012 tragedy struck my running family. One of my biggest inspirations, my 2nd cousin Joey, passed away from a short but aggressive fight with cancer. Joey had run 187 marathons in his 64 year lifetime. Every single race I went to he finished with a smile on his face. This hit everyone very hard. Joey was a real life superman and seeing him struggle was absolutely devastating to everyone. Joey’s passing drove many more people in my family to take up running to carry on his legacy. I wanted to start running but I still didn't have the motivation or the time to train for a marathon.
This on January 16th, 2013 I was involved in a very bad car accident. I was on my way to school on a very cold and icy Minnesota morning when I lost control of my car and slide into oncoming traffic. I was very lucky that day. My car looked like the wrecked car you see on the news that was involved in a fatal car accident. However, praise be to God, other than some very severe bruising and physiological strain, I came out of that accident with nothing more than a VERY shattered ankle. It may seem strange that I am happy with a shattered ankle, but compared to what could have happened, I am forever grateful.
However, the injuries sustained to my right ankle were quite horrific. I ended up completely fracturing my fibula, partially fracturing my tibia, and completely dislocating my ankle from my talus (THANK YOU nursing school!! haha). Sitting in an ER hospital bed for nine hours, having my ankle reset THREE TIMES, and being completely drugged up made me realize that my life would be forever changed from this accident.
Two reconstructive surgeries, a month in a wheel chair, four months on crutches, and six months of physical therapy made me want to run more than anything else in the world. I was always a very active not being able to do anything on my own made me unbelievably anxious.
Five months later, I was able to walk across the stage at my high school graduation with NO crutches, NO boot, and NO LIMP! It's crazy how you take walking for granted until it is taken away from you. After seeing 15 of my family members cross the Twin Cities Marathon finish line in October, I set a goal for myself; I was going to run my first marathon in June of 2014. I told my surgeon and physical therapist and both of them said that they weren't sure if my ankle would hold up, but they both cleared me to start training anyways.
I began my training on October 8th, 2013. I asked my dad if he would make me a customized training schedule that would be easier on my ankle but would still prepare me to finish my marathon in June. I went back to school and told everyone of my plan. I got a few laughs, a few good lucks, and one very brave friend that started running with me.
Let me tell you, training through the winter in Minnesota is absolutely brutal. There were days that I would go out for a run and it would be sunny, and I would get back and it would be a fricken’ blizzard outside. I slipped, fell, and slid many times as I ran down the icy sidewalks but I refused to move my training inside. My college actually has a very nice track so not moving inside was my own stubborn fault, but for some reason I was dedicated to doing my entire training outside.
June came a lot quicker than I expected. Before I knew it, it was June 20th and for the first time when I got to the expo, I was able to hear the words "Have a good race". I'm sure the volunteers thought I was insane when I cried as they handed me my race packet, and activated my chip. I just could not believe that I was finally there; I was SO ready for this.
After tossing and turning the majority of the night with nervous excitement, my Dad, Sister, and I laced up our shoes, pinned on our bibs, and piled into the car as my mom drove us to the starting line. Let me tell you, 26.2 miles seems a lot longer when you are driving the race course in reverse. I couldn't believe that I had agreed to run a race that originated after the first man that ran it, DIED. I had to be absolutely crazy to be doing this. But I couldn't hold in the tears as I stood toe to toe with all 9,000 other marathoners and heard that gun go off. I was off and running on my first 26.2 mile voyage.
The weather that day was cold, misty, and windy, prime conditions for every runner EXCEPT the one that has metal wrapped around the bones in her ankle. This definitely slowed down my time but I didn't mind, I was just happy to be running.
Mile five..... still feeling good...... mile 10.... I'M IN THE DOUBLE DIGITS. I had a huge cheering section consisting of my mom, sister, brother-in-law, and a group of college friends that came to cheer me on. .... Mile 13..... half way there (definitely some tears spread here)........ mile 20....... you are going to make it... Finally, mile 26. I could see the finish line, medals and free t-shirt, and I could hear the crowds cheering. I looked down at the brace on my ankle, looked up to heaven, threw my arms up in the air and let out the loudest, most joyful scream of all time. I had finally finished a marathon, I could finally put that 26.2 sticker on my car, I earned bragging rights over all of my friends, and I had done something that only 10% of people in the world can say they have done. I proved my surgeon, physical therapist, parents, and even myself wrong. That smile still hasn't left my face.
I often hear people say that they don't think they could ever run 26.2 miles. Well, I am here to honestly tell you, if I can run a marathon 1.5 years after breaking both bones in my ankle, you can run a marathon too. Your mind will give up much sooner than your body will. It will not come overnight, but if you have the motivation to do it, anything is possible. You just have to get out there and kick some asphalt.
Time is ticking. It's so easy to forget how fortunate we are when very little is standing in our way. But most importantly a big thank you to Rachel for reminding me that there's so much more than just running a race. Everyone's journey to the finish line is different and sometimes we take for granted the fact that we can even get to the starting line. Until tomorrow, #RunSelfieRepeat.