Decision time has come. The past eight months, I have been working on increasing my fitness level and decreasing my body fat percentage. The next four months, I will continue on this same path, building a solid foundation and leaning down. As of February 2014, after spending this year building my endurance, developing my musculature for running, developing my heart/lung efficiency, increasing my physical strength and, possibly more importantly, increasing my mental strength and fortitude, I will begin training for my first marathon. This will be my first step towards fulfilling my dream of running ultra distances, which is, for those of you unfamiliar with what constitutes an ultra, any distance over the distance of a marathon or 26.2 miles.
It’s scary taking first steps. It’s exciting, too! I can’t wait to begin training with a specific race and distance in mind. When I think about it, I feel as if I might bubble over with excitement. I feel even more excitement when I think about pushing my body and mind beyond my comprehension. If you were to ask me why I want to push my body to the brink, push my mind beyond perceived limitations, I don’t know that I could tell you in words. I just have this deep-seated desire to do so. Because everyone experiences pushing themselves differently, it is just something one must experience for him or herself to understand such a desire.
I will find out, over time, whether or not my body will handle an ultramarathon. I know, right now, it wouldn’t, because I don’t have the necessary foundation. I have been much too sedentary and overweight most of my life. That is why I am taking a full year to lay that foundation. Only after that year will I begin training towards something as specific as a marathon. My body and my mind need that time to strengthen and develop. What is interesting to me is how much I have developed over the last eight months. My body is transforming into a runner’s body, slimming down and becoming increasingly fit. My mental stamina and focus has increased exponentially. When I think back over my training, I remember the days when it was all I could do to push myself out the door and go for a run. Seldom did I give in to the voices in my head about being tired and not wanting to go, which I know has contributed to the increase in mental strength. I remember the runs that just felt like they hurt so bad (not injury-wise, but rather just my body adjusting to the activity), I didn’t think I could go on. I went on anyways.
Then, the perseverance, the doing it anyways, paid off. I experienced my first run where cardiovascular and respiratory systems collided and began working together instead of separate. What a joyous day that was! I don’t think I had ever experienced anything so freeing. Slowly, gradually, I began experiencing that feeling more often. Now, I experience it regularly for longer stretches of my runs. For several months, I have felt exhausted after my runs. I’ve been tired at work and have felt like I haven’t been able to get enough sleep. I’ve kept running anyways. I have pushed through the fatigue, knowing I would eventually get to the point I wouldn’t be as tired as I was. I was correct. Yesterday was the first day I realized I wasn’t fighting to stay awake following my run. I also realized I didn’t have to fight through any exhaustion at work. I am beginning to feel alive. Not just living, but alive! I feel good! All this, after I just completed the most miles I have run in one week when I finished last week with over 40 miles.
I can’t reiterate to you enough how persevering through and ignoring the negative voices in my head has contributed to where I am today with my running. It is so rewarding to look back at where I was and where I am now. I get excited considering where this journey is taking me, especially when I consider then and now. I can see how far I have come in just eight months and it is nothing short of incredible to me. The growth and development increases my belief in myself and fuels my dedication to my journey.
I know running a marathon will not be easy. I know running an ultra will be even more difficult than a marathon. Will I ever complete an ultra? I don’t have an answer for that question right now. My preferred answer is yes; I will complete an ultra. I will complete many ultras, ideally. But, right now, it is just that, an idea, a desire, a dream. Only with time, dedication, and perseverance will this dream have the potential of becoming reality. In the meantime, I will continue sharing my progress and my journey. When I begin, training, I will blog about my training. As I continue to progress mentally, I will share that journey as well. Who knows…maybe someday I will see my name among the list of runners who have finished the Badwater 135 or Spartathalon Ultra Race (153 miles) like so many ultra-distance runners before me. What I do know is I am going after this dream with every fiber of my being.