My first marathon

“My first marathon” is the fifth post in a series about the human side of dailymile: How We Succeed. As a part of this series, dailymilers write about their experiences as athletes struggling to overcome obstacles and solve problems with the help of their friends on dailymile. Being an athlete makes our bodies stronger, but having the support of a crowd of athletes makes our minds stronger. This series highlights the side of training that requires more than muscle power. To submit your story, email the editor.

I expected it to get better. I expected it to get easier. But it didn’t.

I thought that if I put in the miles, if I kept lacing up my shoes and heading out the
door I wouldn’t dread it so much. But I did.

The first time I set out to run a race that seemed too far, each training run
brought more enjoyment. Each challenge was met with excitement. Each wall
was gleefully smashed with a smile on my face. The first time, there was only
one really hard run.

This time was different. This time I hated it. This time, when I ran at the wall
I woke up dizzy, not quite sure where I was, with brick shaped bruises on my
arms, legs, torso and face. And one time I’m pretty sure I broke a rib. This time
there was only one good training run.

I thought about quitting. I thought about banditing the already full half-marathon.
But the thought of those three little letters haunted me.

D. N. F.

I couldn’t handle the failure those three letters seemed to hold.

I decided I didn’t care if I had to crawl across the finish, that 26.2 was MINE.
But I couldn’t do it alone. I’d tried and failed miserably. If I was going to finish, I
would need help. People who knew me. People I trusted. People like Kathy S.,
Kelly K., Caleb M. and Ben W. (and a few others who aren’t on Dailymile).

Within minutes of my tearful admission to Kathy that I wasn’t sure how I was
going to complete the marathon, I had my own cheering squad. There were
encouraging emails and training tips in the weeks and months that followed.
They left comments on long training runs and we had our own hashtag for the
marathon on Twitter.

And while each of those things was integral to my crossing the finish line, nothing
was more inspiring, nothing meant more to me than getting to run (and walk) the
marathon with Kathy. Knowing her training wasn’t what it needed to be to meet
her goal pace, she chose to start and finish the marathon with me instead.

As we stood side by side in the rain waiting for the race to start for the E wave,
I knew that I would have stepped up to the starting line even if she hadn’t been
there. When we ran along Highway 30, past more warehouses and more
railroad tracks, I knew that I could’ve made it to that fifteenth mile marker and
even up and over the Saint Johns Bridge. I may, I thought to myself, have even
made it to mile marker 18 in time to run the full course rather than the alternate
course they move people to after 1:00pm. And as we ran up Naito Parkway,
with Kelly on the median, waving with camera in hand, I knew I could have made it this far on my own. “But,” I thought, “I would not be grinning from ear to ear.
And there’s no way I would’ve passed that girl back there. I passed her because
Kathy believed I could, and because she believed in me, I believed in myself.”

I remember coming up Salmon and seeing my parents and my friends waving
and cheering. I remember hearing the announcer say, “Haley Cloyd from
Portland, Oregon!” But what I remember most, what I remember best, is looking
at my best friend as we crossed that finish line and saying, “dude, we just ran a
marathon!” And there is no way I could have done that without her.

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