My First Marathon!

That whole weekend, I felt flooded with joyful consolations. Sarah and I immediately began scheming plans for our next big run!

Welcome to article 28 of a weekly series on the formation journey of Br. Josh, MIC, a second-year seminarian at the Marian House of Studies in Steubenville, Ohio. It is the continuation of Br. Josh's previous column, "Novice Notes."

By Br. Josh, MIC

The victorious trio with their medals: Sarah, Br. Josh, MIC, and Br. Jacob, MIC.

The day of the marathon finally arrived!

At 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning in London, Ohio, I sat cross-legged in the hall outside my hotel room, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and from our Marian prayer book. When finished, I put on my running clothes and my sister Sarah and I prepared our backpacks with electrolytes, water, gels, and bananas. 

Sarah had run multiple marathons and a 50K ultramarathon in the past, but she traveled to Ohio to join us because this was her first chance to run with a family member. 

High spirits
We met Br. Jacob and Alex, one of the Marian novices, downstairs. Another novice, Paul, joined us soon. He had very kindly come to help drive us and take photos. Everyone was in high spirits. Brother Jacob would run the half marathon after training for it in the tough terrain of Steubenville’s hills.

The flatness of the course would be a mercy to Sarah and me. It was my first marathon, and easing into such experiences was preferable.

At 7:00 a.m., we joined the crowd at the starting line. They were excited, both elderly and young people, smiles wreathing their faces. 

We heard the signal. We were off!

Sarah and I chatted merrily and sent joking phone messages to our family about how easy this felt, as we began to run. Brother Jacob was behind us.

Blazing with energy
My body was blazing with energy stored up through my online training program. I had done all my practice runs on the treadmill, which was not ideal because there was some difference from outdoor conditions, but my body was now very built for running. 

Sarah kept up with the weekend long runs required by her training program, but her intense workload as a medical doctor prevented her from doing most midweek runs. 

We reached a marker that signaled the point where marathoners were to continue and the half-marathoners should turn around. 

“Just think what it will be like when we reach the halfway point for the marathon!” I exclaimed to Sarah, excitedly.

She groaned. Having skipped the midweek runs, she was not buoyant with energy like me, and she knew what to expect ahead. 

We split up soon. Sarah needed to pause at an aid station while I did not, and we both wanted to make good time, so I ran ahead. 

We got out of the city and ran down miles of a long road surrounded by the vibrant greenery of trees. Then, we suddenly emerged into open Ohio farmland.

Wind at our backs
A strong wind struck our backs and seemed to comfortably carry us toward our destination. As I passed runners who were ahead of me, coming back the other way, we waved at each other, gave the thumbs-up, and called out encouraging comments. “You’re doing great!” “Great job!”

Volunteers at aid stations cheered enthusiastically as we passed, offering us gels, water, and Gatorade. Everyone shared a strong, joyful sense of camaraderie. The mood was enormously charged with positive energy. 

Behind us, I found out later that Br. Jacob got a second-wind of energy during the second half of his run. He had trained for running hills and the flat course was easy for him, so he ran past many people on his way back to the finish line. He passed over the final marker and received his medal of achievement with a red ribbon.

Sarah was behind me but she kept me in sight. The wind which helped us on our way to the halfway point was full in our faces on the return journey, making us fight for progress. We both slowed down, but we kept going.

Finish line
My energy dwindled in the last 8 miles or so of the course and I occasionally was frustrated to find myself jogging at the same speed I could have made walking fast! 

I began to groan and grunt, “ow!” as sore muscles protested the relentless motion. 

Finally, it was over. Sarah and I crossed the finish line about 5½ hours after starting. Paul drove us home and we celebrated with a delicious feast at a Mexican restaurant. 

That whole weekend, I felt flooded with joyful consolations. Sarah and I immediately began scheming plans for our next big run!

Next: "End of the School Year!"
Previous entry.

SHGM

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