According to Life123 a marathon is one long road race totaling 26.2 miles. The marathon originated when an ancient Greek soldier, Pheidippides, ran from Marathon to Athens to relay the message that the Persian army had been defeated. As legend has it, once the words “We have won” came out of his mouth, he dropped dead on the spot. This fable prompted the first Olympic marathon, which totaled 24.8 miles, the distance Pheidippides ran.
In 1908 the marathon distance was changed to 26.2 miles when King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria wanted the royal family to see the beginning of the race. The course was changed to begin at Windsor Castle and end at a racetrack, thus changing the distance to the now standard 26.2 miles.
Beyond the marathon there is the ultra-marathon, which can be 30, 50, or 100 miles, the half marathon (about 13 miles), and last but not least the 5K, a race for folks like me who want to get in shape without dropping dead like Pheidippides.
I ran my first 5K about 10 years ago in a run for Autism, then proceeded to let running slide as life got busy with our little Dani who suffers from the disability. A few months ago, after turning 50 and hearing my cholesterol was too high, I kicked back into gear and began training again. I had four weeks to get into shape for this race and believe it or not…I did it!
Today’s run was for a family who has three terminally ill children and it was heart-warming to stand amidst hundreds of people at the starting line to pray, sing the National Anthem, and then run as one body in unison for one cause. There were men, women, kids, parents pushing strollers, and dogs all along the way. One little pooch was zig zagging in front of me making me giggle as I seriously tried to run. He seems to want to run along side me, which would have been fine if he’d have ran in a straight line. (You might recall Cocoa Bean got kicked off my running schedule for the same wavering offence.) Another doggy had to make a pit stop along the way bless his heart. His owner patiently waited as his fury friend made a deposit in the grass. As we ran by I said to the man, “I’m glad that isn’t you doing your business roadside.” We all chuckled and continued on our journey. I usually run alone so it was fun to have folks to wave and talk to along the way.
At one point I took a quick glance at my stopwatch and was happy to see the end had to be near. A few paces further and I saw the bright colored balloon arch over the road where we had begun the race and felt a jolt of energy pulse through my body. It was downhill the rest of the way and Coldplay was playing strong in my ears. I turned my music up a notch and commenced running past the runners I’d followed from the beginning. Once past the “finish line” I heard the announcer on a bullhorn say, “5K runners you’re not done. Keep going up the hill, turn right, run around the chair and come back. Then you’ll be done!”
Now, I gotta tell you I’d given it all I had by that point and the thought of conquering another hill was beyond discouraging, but I had no choice. I had to finish the race and the only way I could do that was to change my mindset and move forward, even if it involved another hill.
I equate running hills to eating elephants, one bite at a time. As I approach an incline, instead of dreading it I envision each step as a bite into the hill. Before I know it I’m up and on my way, happy to have eaten another elephant.
After finding the chair that I’d rather have sat in than run around, I trotted back down the hill and crossed the finish line, AGAIN. Folks were cheering and Jimmy was taking pictures of his ole bride. My attention, however, was drawn elsewhere. Out of the entire crowd all I could see was my little Dani patiently leaning against a tree waiting for her mama to arrive. Just the site of her was so precious it brought a smile to my face. Beaming from ear to ear, I took a beeline straight to her and planted a big kiss on her forehead. Bless her heart for all she knows I ran to someone’s house, grabbed a cookie, visited for ½ an hour and ran back. She has no idea the hard work it takes to run these bones down the road, but she and her daddy waited in the cold rain to cheered me on and for that I am most grateful.
Crossing the finish line the second time super pooped.
Now I need another goal. What might be my next 5K (cholesterol) run? I have something in mind and I'll give you a hint. It involves some very big elephants.