After completing my second full marathon in Chicago in October, I had the marathon bug. My sister and I signed up for Paris Marathon, set to take place on April 5, 2020. We were so excited!
As we all know, a lot has changed since then. The Covid 19 pandemic set in and one by one, races started being cancelled, Paris included. I felt a bit bummed, I had put in a pretty solid training cycle and was ready to race. Now I felt like my training had gone to waste. Social distancing protocols were in place and I could no longer run with my BRF (Tom), or join in at a BLT Runners group run. I needed to do something for myself, to ignite a new spark and remind myself that training pays off no matter what.
On March 28, I woke up very early and tied up my running shoes. My dad set up a makeshift water and gel station outside my building, knowing I would pass it multiple times. I ran 42.2 kilometres through the streets that surrounded my home. With the intent of staying close to home to a) limit exposure and b) be able to have a drink when I needed one, I completed over 14 laps of the same course.
Things were pretty easy at first, the temperature was cool, the loop was a bit hilly, but nothing I couldn’t handle, and my legs felt fresh. Around 30k the pain started to set in. At this distance, you can really feel the difference between running on asphalt streets, and running on concrete sidewalks. The sidewalks were hard (especially on the knees) and the hills started to bother me. Nevertheless, I continued on.
The next 12.2 kilometres felt like they went on forever. Thankfully, I had my music, but being alone with my thoughts meant I had nearly nothing to distract me from the pain. I am used to 50 000 other runners, tens of thousands of spectators, new cities, new streets, smiling faces and so on. But all I had that day was a playlist on repeat, my thoughts, my dad every few kilometres and the finish line I pictured in my head.
Eventually, I reached the finish. I had two big blisters, my legs were exhausted and so was my mind. I was proud of my physical strength, but more importantly my mental strength in this moment. I had always been the kind of person who needed a running buddy, because when I went out alone I gave up on myself too easily or got in my head. I had just done 42.2 kilometres alone. There was no big finish line, no chip time, no fancy medal (although I did get a makeshift one!!!) but I did it anyways. I was so lucky to have friends and family who made the day so special (from a distance). I learned so many valuable lessons that day. The glitz and glamour of running a big marathon was taken away and I got down to the core of running the distance of a marathon, and fell in love with it all over again.
It was important for me to do this. And it’s important for you to do it too. It doesn’t have to be running, it doesn’t have to be a marathon, but do the thing that scares you and do it with pride. Be proud of yourself, every step, every bit of small progress, and every day you get out the door, because eventually it leads to a moment you will never forget. I am so grateful I got out the door on March 28th and did something I didn’t know I could accomplish on my own.
Corona Marathon 2020 is complete! ❤️