By - Brian Elder
There was emotion and tension as I reached the last mile of the 26.2 mile course. The crowd grew stronger as the streets became familiar to a runner that was unfamiliar with Atlanta. I knew I was nearing the finish line. There were lots of signs. My GPS watch, the crowd size, noise level, mile markers, and one man in particular. One man shouts out “Keep going! You can finish in the top 50!” The pain in my legs thought, “Ha, good one. 25 miles of running and you think this is a good time to joke! There is no way! “ It turns out he was not kidding, but that’s not the point.
I was simply happy with the realization that I was about to finish a marathon, one of the major goals I had set for myself as a runner. This is what really made the endorphins kick in! Justifying the hours of time spent training in the mountains of North Georgia and discipline it took to prepare myself culminated to this moment of pure ecstasy. This was of course until I stopped running and could barely feel my legs.
I've been able to distance myself from the moments of joy and pain that come while running a marathon. Three years later, the memories of this day (March 18, 2012) have me ready to run the marathon distance once more. There truly is a ‘spirit of the marathon’ as your emotions become a jumbled mess leaving you happy at moments, in pain at others, and sometimes questioning your sanity for running this obscene distance in the first place (there is a reason people give you crazy looks when you run 20 miles on a weekend and follow it by eating an entire pizza). It’s surprising that I still remember and can get excited about emotions from years before, but if you truly love something I think this is possible. These emotions can carry you through difficult moments to reach something remarkable. There are very few things in life that feel better than completing something you have set out and worked hard to accomplish.
It’s satisfying. It’s rewarding. It’s fulfilling. It’s what I hope to do again.
This second marathon could be different though. It could be different because there is more on the line, but that is natural when you set a loftier goal. Breaking 3 hours and 30 minutes was a respectable goal for my first marathon, but I have always been someone who wants to push the limits and barriers of what I can do. If I am not pushing boundaries then I don't see purpose. There is no emotion, no life, and no spirit to anything unless you are able to do this. That is why this time I am training and running with the goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
I would love for you to follow along on the journey as there will inevitably be moments of pain, fatigue, setbacks, satisfaction, and joy in the run to prepare for another spirit and emotion filled 26.2 miles on October 25th to qualify for Boston.
What was it like when you started training for a new goal? Let us know in the comments below!
Brian Elder is a learner, traveler, and nomadic runner that is going to run until it takes him somewhere remarkable. He is a senior at the University of Georgia studying English and Religion. After running competitively on trails and roads, he fuels through an appetite so big you would swear it’s competitive. Follow Brian's training on Instagram.