I am down to one month before my first marathon. I have moments of being full of emotions about it. From realizing that I am going actually to run a marathon to the personal meaning behind the trails I am going to run, it is a lot to take in.
Sometimes an endeavor feels like a lifetime in the making. You didn’t know you were headed down a path, until you were almost at the finish. And the finish wasn’t the finish, it was really the starting line. That kind of sums up how I feel right now. I have been slowly increasing my distance over the past year, running with friends and on new trails. At times it doesn’t even seem like a big deal. Then I realize that I am about to run a marathon. A difficult marathon at that.
I have spent many evenings scrolling UltraSignp and other sites figuring out what even to make my first marathon and my first 50k (next on my to do list). It could be any race or any run, but there is something that feels significant about running my first marathon. Going back to that ‘feeling like this is a lifetime in the making thing’. It feels like a big deal. So I have been running with a blase attitude, but deep down there is so much more to it when it comes to this specific event. I just chose this race as a way to visit family and do a fun run, but the closer it gets the more meaningful it feels.
I grew up in Bellingham Washington. The race I am doing is the Bellingham Trail Marathon. It has almost 5,000 feet of elevation gain, so when a marathon isn’t easy in the first place, this one is extra special. But, it is trail and that is where I enjoy running. Trails usually involve mountains, so the elevation is to be expected.
The race begins at a lake. The lake that is one mile from the house I grew up at. It wasn’t a happy home. It wasn’t warm or filled with love. But, the lake. The lake was my home. I would walk there, down a busy winding road outside of town. I would spend my afternoons at the lake, walk around its 2.5 mile perimeter, swim, play at the playground, and explore the woods. It was the good part of my childhood.
The run continues onto the mountain trails. The trails where I would ride my bike for miles, making my way towards the beach. The lush green trails that are a combination of dirt and gravel. So many offshoots lead up the mountain peaks and lakes. I never explored those much, but I will this time. Instead of walking or bike riding, I will be running.
What started as a quest to see how far I can run will become a race to retrace these trails with a different meaning. In my adult life I am happy, normal even (if that is actually a thing). When I run it is with joy. It is love for the trails. It is a way to enjoy my life even more than I already am. I run to see what I am capable of. Because nature makes me happy. I used to explore trails as an escape of my life. It’s the same now, but it is also so different.
As I enter the last opportunities to train and grow better in this sport, I soak in the joy of sharing time with friends and seeing new trails and getting more miles of dirt under my feet. I think about how this marathon could just be my first marathon. Just a fun day on the trails with a bunch of other people who share something in common with me. But, I think it might be more emotional than that. I think of each footstep on the familiar paths as a celebration of overcoming.
I feel a little homesick thinking about it all. But, in a good way. Some run for fitness. Some are fast and find accomplishment in winning. I am slow really. I just enjoy the trails. In the same way, but different at the same time.