Running to my goal

Running, jogging and walking 26.2 miles is a hard task for anyone, let alone a high school student, and on Feb. 26, I ran my first marathon. I was excited to partake in an event that so few people even think about doing. 

I’ve been running since sixth grade. I went from running two mile cross country meets to running 5k and 10k races. Then I got inspired. My dad ran his first marathon in 2016, and I remember watching him start and finish the race and I knew right then that one day I wanted to run a marathon.

In the beginning of 2021 I told my dad I was ready, so we began to look for a marathon. However, everything was canceled due to Covid; the only races open were late 2021 and the beginning of 2022. Finally, near the end of 2021 we registered for the Wilmington, North Carolina Marathon.

My dad informed me about all I needed to know for the race, including a ten week training schedule as well as race day tactics.

My training schedule required me to build up mileage during the ten weeks with the longest run being close to 20 miles. However, I did not end up following the schedule. I was running five to seven miles when I should have been running 12 to 18.

In the midst of soccer season, I did not have much time to run outside of practice. It’s hard enough to get up and run five miles after completely exerting yourself the night before in a soccer game, let alone run more than ten.

I knew what I was getting myself into would be a challenge physically and mentally, but I had the mental part down.

My mental strength developed during the cross country season. My coach always said “work on your mental toughness, it’s one of the most important things while running.” This greatly benefitted me during the season and the marathon.

I wasn’t too worried about not following my training schedule. I have previously done two half-marathons with no training, so I assumed I would be fine. I was wrong — really wrong.

I had a goal for the race; I wanted to finish in under five hours, requiring me to keep a sub 11-minute mile. I had written out a pace sheet to make sure I would stay on time.

The morning of the race I felt nervous but excited. I knew that I had a long day ahead of me, but all I could think about was the Red Robin burger I would eat after finishing the race, which has been a tradition since my first half-marathon.

We started at Wilmington Beach. It was about 40 degrees and windy — ideal running weather. As we crossed the start line I said goodbye to my dad and began my run.

I started the race at a 10:15 pace. The first seven miles were smooth. My mind was wandering, thinking about everything from The Jungle (the book I was reading at the time) to which type of ice cream I would eat that night.

I was avoiding thinking about the boredom and pain I was in, but when I hit mile eight I started to slow down. My pace slowed to an 11-minute mile, and I started to lose energy.

I don’t really remember much from miles eight to 12, just continually running. Then the next thing I knew, I was at the halfway point: 13.1 miles. More than half the people I was running with left. They were all doing the half-marathon and it was their finish, so I was now alone.

I compiled a playlist of my favorite songs to listen to while I ran. The music I listen to during a run is important, it keeps me motivated and ensures I don’t get bored.

I remember wanting to just turn around. I would go and finish the half-marathon and be done, I wouldn’t have to run any longer. Then “Long Way to Go” by Alice Cooper began to play on my playlist. It was motivating yet dreadful to know that I would have to run another 13 miles before I could stop.

I ran for two more miles before I hit a wall. I couldn’t run anymore. It hurt too much to walk or run, so I started to slowly jog. I was quite discouraged and disappointed. My hips and hamstrings hurt badly. All I wanted to do was sit down and sleep, but my legs wouldn’t stop moving.

Miles 17-24 were the hardest. I was practically alone the whole time and was barely trudging along the course. I was honestly quite embarrassed. As I passed all the cheering volunteers on the side of the road I did not feel encouraged. All it did was make me want to curl into a ball and cry. 

I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing something amazing. I was so focused on my time, and I hated that I knew I would be past my goal.

When I reached mile 25 I was super relieved. I had accepted the fact that I was over my goal time — all I wanted was to finish.

NO PAIN NO GAIN: Wise holds her medal after finishing 26.2 miles. She never imagined completing something like this when she was younger, it still sometimes astonishes her that she actually ran a marathon. Photo courtesy of William Wise.

As I ran the last stretch to the finish, I saw my dad. He was standing next to the road and was cheering me on. He looked proud.

Finishing the race was a rollercoaster. I was so overjoyed, but I just wanted to sit down, relax and eat. My whole body was in pain, and I could barely walk.

I was a little upset that I didn’t reach my goal. I didn’t want to tell anyone my time. But my dad told me that it really didn’t matter. I just ran 26.2 miles and had a new PR which I am bound to beat in my next marathon.

Eating at Red Robin after the race was one of the best parts of the experience. We met other people who also finished the race, and my dad proudly told them that it was my first marathon and that I finished first in my age group, females 18 and under.

Seeing and hearing how proud my dad was made me feel incredible. I was no longer upset about the fact I didn’t reach my goal, and I was now celebrating the fact that I completed my first marathon.

Being able to accomplish something of this extent when only being in high school is rewarding. I look forward to running another marathon, and maybe one day something even greater.

Megan Wise

Senior Megan Wise holds two positions including Sports Editor and Co-Editor-in-Chief for her fourth year with BluePrints. She hopes to major in business marketing/management in college and pursue graphic design. Wise’s extracurriculars consist mostly of running, but she hopes to successfully facilitate the production of three magazines this year. She enjoys being able to learn new skills through journalism.

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