Guest Post: Running Your First Marathon Part 1

Good Morning! I’m psyched, today is my Friday!  Today and Tomorrow I have a special guest post from my boyfriend Michael.  I know many of you are interested in getting going on your first marathon and thought you might enjoy Michael’s story and his thought’s about his first Marathon experience.  So without further ado, I’ll turn it over to him…

Hi, I’m Michael, Whitney’s boyfriend and running partner.  So, Whit asked me if I would put together a guest post for her blog, from a first time marathoner’s perspective.  It’s hard for me to say no to her so here we are.


Well, I’m a history buff and believe you can’t understand where people are going until you understand where they’ve been (I’m a movie buff too, might be paraphrasing Forrest Gump here).  I’ll offer you the Cliff Notes version of my life and promise it will prove relevant to how I approached and conquered my first marathon.  My parents are educators, being smart or acting in a smart manner was always front and center, even for their rambunctious (read: hyperactive), wise-ass, athletic son.  I wasn’t the smartest in the classroom, but would always use my brains to beat people in sports when my God-given talent came up short.  I exploited weaknesses in my opponents, worked smarter not harder in practices and was always front and center when coaches talked.  I think not being the most gifted athlete made me pay closer attention to my body, my technique and my approach…I was always in tune with my body.  The best example: Standing too close to my track coach in practice one day I became an intermediate hurdler (all 30 inch inseam of me!).  My first season was a joke and I have scars to prove it, but I stuck with it and by the time I was a senior I was a state champion and record holder.  Ya ya, glory days, High School, blah blah blah.  Folks, I was never the fastest guy on the track, but I had refined my technique to a point where my trip around the track was flawless, every step measured perfectly…and I won, often.  Professionally I’ve bounced around, but about 8 years ago I was at rock bottom, sleeping on my parents couch and decided I needed a change.  I enrolled in design school in pursuit of my Master’s in Architecture.  I didn’t own a sketchbook, had no idea what an architectural scale was, but knew I could draw a little.  7+ years later I graduated, having worked full-time the entire way and attended classes at night.  I learned so much about myself on that journey, that I had a place in this world and if I put my mind to it I could accomplish any goal.  As with any success, there is always a price paid.  For me this came in the form of less time spent with friends and family, not participating in many of the leisure activities I enjoyed and abandoning any attempts at a healthy lifestyle.


It was three years ago that my sister Susan was running The Boston Marathon on an injured leg.  During her training she put up with a lot of pain, physical therapy and long workouts on the elliptical machine.  I can remember her telling me she did 20-something miles on the elliptical and I marveled at her determination.  On race day, I stood about 3 miles from the finish, dressed in my running gear, prepared to jump in and ride shotgun to provide support at a time I knew she’d be hurting.  She limped by, I leaped the fence and so began my fraudulent jog towards the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  Turning onto Boylston Street and seeing the finish line, hearing the crowd cheer my sister on, something inside of me was moved.  Beyond the finish line Susan, wrapped in her heat sheet and covered in the filth of 26.2 miles, plopped down onto a trash littered curb and sat there to gather herself.  I can remember thinking of what a perfect picture this was, the athlete victorious on the battlefield, exhausted (am I quoting Vince Lombardi here?) and rather dehydrated.  I couldn’t comprehend what she had endured physically and mentally, but I understood that this was the culmination of a long journey, I wanted to have my own journey.


After being rather reclusive for the first 2 of my 3 thesis semesters, I spent the summer of 2010 running with a social run group every Monday evening.  One night, while my friend and I began our run, this cute voice behind us asked what our pace was and after we lied, she decided to run with us.  After introducing myself I did what most guys do when they meet someone cute, I ran as fast as possible from her (true story).  I’d had a bad day at work and wasn’t feeling very social, so my buddy ran the 5 miles with Whitney and we did eventually talk when the run was over.  We bumped into each other at a bar later that week, exchanged numbers and had a couple “run dates” over the next couple weeks.  The summer turned to fall and Whit was training for a 1/2 Marathon.  I was there that day to root her on and I once again thought about running a marathon.  I was also at the tail end of reading “Into This Air” and can remember asking myself over and over again how I thought I could challenge myself physically.  Risking death to stand on top of the world didn’t appeal to me, jumping out of a perfectly good plane with some stranger and a parachute strapped to my back isn’t my idea of a good time either, but I do like me some terra firma!  As we walked back to my car, I confided that I wanted to run a marathon and we decided that once I finished school we’d go ahead and do it together.


That there is the opening line to Robert Herrick’s, “To the virgins, to make much of Time” and I was reminded of this poem as a series of events played out over the final 4 months of school.  For starters, my friend and coworker suffered a brain hemorrhage and died a very untimely death.  A couple of months later my aunt, who had valiantly fought leukemia for three years, passed away a few weeks before my final presentation.  I had enough, it was time to wrap this school thing up and get on with some real living!  I found that I could barely concentrate when I was alone in studio late at night.  Instead of focusing on wrapping up my final presentation, I was excited at all the living I was going to be catching up on as soon as I was done.  My final review took place the first week of February and it was truly awesome standing in a room with my work adorning every square inch of space as my folks, close friends, Whitney and thesis panel listened as I took them on my design journey.  After a couple of months of decompressing from school, catching up with friends and enjoying a stress-free life, Whitney and I began our training for a half marathon…and so the next journey begins!

Whitney and I on Graduation Day

Check back tomorrow for part 2!


Any Thoughts, Suggestions or Similar Experiences?

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