I dare you to train for a marathon and not have it change your life. -Susan Sidoriak
What I knew when I registered for PE 1262: Marathon Training offered at the University of Minnesota through the School of Kinesiology was the following:
- Eau Claire, Wisconsin
- May 3, 2015
- 7:30 a.m.
- 26.2 miles
What I did not know was that running a marathon would be the hardest final I have ever taken as a college student.
Running a marathon was on my bucket list and I admit, yes, that I voluntarily registered for the class. With little thought as to what I would be subjecting myself to, I deftly fielded common reactions from others as they professed confusion to the effect of… “Why? What is wrong with you? Running a marathon is crazy!” Upon finishing the marathon and looking back at the past five months of training, I must confess the task at hand was, in fact, a little crazy.
It was hard, nearly impossible, actually, to appreciate my progress and how I was growing as a person, to see the end, and to keep my head up in the midst of the training along with the not exactly atypical college student stressors of school, work, and the question of life after graduation. Now, as I reflect on the semester of Spring 2015, it is much easier to see it in a positive light (I am told this is also known as “Runners Amnesia”, a non-medical diagnosis for seemingly forgetting the grueling training and focusing only on the feeling of accomplishment of the race).
The training was challenging and incredibly taxing physically, mentally and emotionally. After the excitement of training for a marathon wore off around month two of training, reality set in. The Sunday long runs got longer, colder, and harder as we progressed from 14 to 16 to 18 to 20 miles and as I let myself entertain the dangerous voice in my head telling me I simply could not finish the race, that I never could. Still, somehow, quitting was simply not even a remote possibility – such a feeling partially spurred on by the fact that my final grade wavered on completion of the Eau Claire Marathon. I did not do it alone; an innumerable thanks go out to friends within the class, friends and family outside of the class, members of the Kinesiology department, instructors of the course, and volunteers selflessly giving of their time to help us run.
I have also heard that there is nothing quite like an extraordinary experience to grow friendships. The marathon training class has proved a true testament to that statement. We have run, cried, laughed, and loved each other by encouraging, listening, and sharing. I feel honored to have shared such an immense character development experience with others and to have learned valuable information concerning the logistics of running in this class. I can make no promises that I will register again for any other 26.2 endeavor although I can, however, promise to you that I have run, shared with friends the pain of -30 degree weather complete with ice frosted eyelashes and, much later in the season, sun-burnt shoulders, that we have encouraged each other upon the breach of the infamous “wall”, and that we have reached the end.
Though race day was uncharacteristically hot, the majority of us did not achieve our expected finishing time, and four students were unable to finish, the seventh year of PE 1262 remains an unforgettable one with a few noteworthy mentionables:
- this years class was co-taught by Dr. Christopher Lundstrom and Dr. Stacy Ingraham
- Dr. Ingraham has taught the class since it was first offered seven years ago
- the School’s very own, Dr. Daheia-Barr Anderson participated in the class
- Fox 9 news ran a story on our class: U of M marathon training class is not for quitters
- we contributed to the record setting number of runners in the marathon
- at this point in time, seven years of PE 1262 has provided for 11 research publications
To conclude, what is the answer to the question of “What is wrong with me and the others who have reached the conclusion of this 26.2 mile journey?” We must be wrong because we are determined to challenge our best selves to become better best selves, we must be wrong not because we enjoy the blisters threatening the often overlooked beauty of our toes, but because we delight in the opportunity to grow as a group. And, we must be a little wrong then too, to say we’re glad to have signed up for this. We showed up. We ran. We put forth our best effort. We did it together.
What about you? What is challenging you to be your better best self? Let us help you. I believe you can do it, whatever it may be.
In fact, I dare you.