Photo credit: @gnp_photos
I honestly never thought twice about doing a marathon. Earlier this year, I realized how much I was driven by my fears rather than my goals. I would overthink everything until I would talk myself out of whatever idea I had been meditating on for months. I was limiting myself into a box when I truly just wanted to experience these ideas. I was in this constant anxiety of:
Am I wasting my time?
What are others going to think?
Will I fail?
Will I even make it?
I was over allowing my fears to dictate my destiny. So, in April 2018, I decided to run my first marathon in my favorite city–The Chi.
My marathon training was 18 weeks long, and I broke it into three “quarters”.
The First Quarter: Elevate
The first seven weeks, I had a really hard time adjusting to the 4+ workouts a week. Also, I normally would run alone. I learned quickly I couldn’t do my training alone. Joey and Brandon really kept me under their wing once they saw I was struggling with my training.
Nutrition-wise, I started craving things I’ve never really cared for–carbs and sweets. One week, I ate mac and cheese just about every day. Lol! I definitely was not eating enough, so I started eating everything. Lol! I did not hold back. Of course, the majority of the time I was eating the healthier options, but I was not strict with the carbs. I also started focusing my research on nutrition for long distance runners which really helped me.
You truly do sacrifice your summer for fall marathons! But like Traci Scott told me, “It will be worth it!”
First quarter required some discipline..
No late Friday night outings…
No crazy drinking…
No Saturday morning brunches…
It’s definitely a lifestyle adjustment, and it forced me to elevate.
The Second Quarter: “Oh, We Talking Teams?”
I adjusted well cutting back on the drinking and sacrificing my Friday nights/brunches–It was easy. However, it was difficult to remain consistent with the training plans on vacation. Let’s be real–Our family and non-runner friends already think we are crazy for even running these long distances. My first vacation was with my family. They weren’t helpful. If anything, they gave me every reason to not run. After one week of not running, I started waking up early to get my runs in. My second vacation was with my girlfriends. They respected my workout schedule and were even asking me, “Maya did you run?”. I also woke up early before anyone and got the runs in. I was back by the time the crew was up and ready for breakfast. I had my DRC fam I was training with (the pact) text me to make sure I was on my stuff and not just chillin’. Everyone back home really held me accountable by simply just checking on me. Major tip: You are only as strong as your accountability. Make sure you have a really big team.
The Third Quarter: Started from the Bottom Now the Whole Team Here
My bib was through a charity entry. Yeah, that’s right. Not only was I doing my first marathon, it was also my first fundraiser. The last quarter I started to get worried I was not going to reach my fundraiser goal. I remember it hitting me one day like, “Pause…If you don’t raise this money, you are not going to be able to run this marathon you’ve been training for”. Thanks to Stephani who gave me a dope idea for an event that I went with! With over 80% of the donations coming from my DRC fam, not only did I meet my goal, I exceeded it! Many thanks! Y’all really held it down!
During the third quarter, the long runs were really intimidating. I’d never run past 13 miles. Another major tip: Never do your long runs alone–ever. It’s hard enough to get your feet on the pavement and get going; when you have a pact, it’s easier.
The Race: What a Time to be Alive
My hotel was about 0.8 miles away from the start line, so I started my day with a warm up run to the start line. I would recommend this to anyone because it helped me get my nerves out and get mentally ready to tackle what I had never done before. As I ran, I had the mental conversation with myself, “Damn. This is it. You trained. You cried. You sweat. You raised the money. You prepared. Leo, you BELONG here! Now do it! LET’S GO!”
I zoned out, and I ran without my music or my phone. I wanted to be present and embrace my fears. My heart was full of joy. I just took my first marathon in–millions of spectators and the joy of this sport. I didn’t care about my time. I just wanted to not get injured and finish.
Mile 13 – “This is a breeze. I have done this before.” Tay texted, “Stop being afraid and run!!!”
Mile 15 – “Face your fear”…The pouring rain…I absolutely hate running in the rain…
Mile 18 – “Sh*t happens!” I should have listened to Matt” (upside down smiley face)
Mile 22 – Cheer Squad!!! I still can feel the energy of everyone there! Screaming at the top of their lungs, “LET’S GO!!!” Every pain, ache, and doubt disappeared. I remember Stephani, Ashlee, and Brandon there. Ashlee saw me about to breakdown, “Let’s go, Maya!!! Let’s go!!!” She was right…“Let’s F*&%ing go!” Why am I so afraid?
Mile 24 – “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” -Philippians 4:13
Mile 25 – “Don’t stop now! Let’s go! It’s a cool down!”
Mile 26 – “This is it.. You ARE here.. You DID this!”
Everyone was tracking me the whole race. I just kept feeling my Apple watch go off. I got every message and every call, even the international ones. I just was embracing all the love that sometimes I do not realize is around me. This was the craziest thing I’ve ever done, and it was the most euphoric feeling I’ve ever felt. I have never felt so ALIVE.
Recap: Look What You’ve Done
I originally started this journey to set out to do something that was I was afraid of. Little did I know how much this journey would shape me for a lifetime–how much it would test me, discipline me, and show me my own determination. The journey is the goal. I had to stop focusing on the end product and embrace the journey of it all. I learned to push myself beyond the limitations I have created within my mind. I learned to challenge myself, stop overthinking, and just execute. Lastly, I learned to face my biggest fears because it will lead me to my destiny.
District Running Collective, I want to thank each and every one of you who was a part of this marathon journey with me. Without you, this would have been impossible. I am beyond grateful.
Marathon Maya (out.)
Photo credit: MarathonFoto