Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the Rex Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher, a soccer coach and an athletic trainer with the Wake County Public School system.
The 5th annual Tobacco Road Marathon, held on March 15, was a milestone event for me and my wife Angie. It was my 30th marathon and her 20th, and we were very excited.
Our friends, Frida Beltran and Rex Garner member Lu White were running their first full marathon, and Rex Garner Members Keith and Tina Manning were running their first half-marathon. We all trained together except for Lu, but kept in touch with Lu by Facebook and chance meetings at the gym. Angie and I were confident that they all would be successful, but they may not have felt the same way.
One thing that most (not all) first-timers have in common is a bit of self-doubt. Running 26.2 or 13.1 miles in a daunting task that challenges you physically, but I have always felt that the mental challenges are even greater. You train for up to 32 weeks for a full marathon and 20 for a half. That’s a long time commitment for working folks with families and other life commitments- and hopefully that’s all without sustaining an injury!
You have long runs, tempo runs, speed work, cross training and of course, the sweet weekly day of rest. In spite of all of that training, self-doubt can still linger. I can’t tell you how many times a first-timer has asked me, “do you think I can do it?” Questions run through their mind such as, ”Am I training hard enough to go the distance?” “Am I getting enough sleep?” “Am I eating the right things?” “What should I eat and drink on race day?” “What should I wear on race day?” “What will the weather be like?” The list of questions that can run though your head during training is almost infinite. On top of that, I’ll give you 10 to 1 odds that most do not sleep well the night before their first race.
But for runners, there is nothing like having family and friends cheer you on. Thanks Theresa, Roger, Phyllis, Rebecca, Michelle, Don, Brian, Juliette, Mike, Mike, Mary, John, Amber and all the rest for being there. If you have ever participated in any type of race, you know how much a smile and cheer can lift your spirits and give you a needed boost.
So how did these first-timers do?
They were AWESOME and are now members of the Marathon Club. And there was an added bonus for all of them. Frida’s husband and daughter ran the entire race with her, and her son-in-law ran the last 6 miles. Husband and Wife team Tina and Keith ran their first together, and Lu’s husband, son, and daughter-in-law were waiting for her at the finish line in the pouring rain. It was a day that these first-time marathoners will never forget and neither will I.
In closing, if you are training to become a “first-timer,” believe in your training and believe in yourself, and you will be successful too.