“Keep it between 1000 and 1100 words, Beth…yeah, I know it won’t be easy for you.”

Below is the article I was asked to write to provide a general overview of why running the F4F marathon might be an idea worth contemplating.

“How far is a marathon?”
That question, when posed to anyone who defines themselves as a runner, will always elicit a smile.  It is the surest way to know that the person inquiring is contemplating the idea of taking up running, and perhaps – even conquering their first marathon.  All 26.2 miles of it.
My running bug started out as what I like to call an “early mid-life crisis.”  Kids were getting older, life was moving faster, and something fulfilling needed to be added to the mix of the inevitable mundane.  I used to run, I thought to myself.  Sure, it was almost twenty years ago, but how hard could it be to start up again?
That was 2008.  Thousands of miles later, I could not be any more thankful I decided to find out.  What began as an attempt to recapture the pure joy of youth has morphed into constant joy as an adult.  Not only were innumerous miles over the last eight years beyond hard, others were downright cruel.  And yet others were something different altogether – Therapeutic, Exhilarating, Competitive, Strong, Contagious, and Empowering.
What exists in the world of running is this: possibilities.  At first, even thinking about the mere idea of running farther than you may commute to work may seem like an utter impossibility, but it can become an absolute reality with a little planning, a lot of dedication, and a good pair of running shoes. 
The first time I trained for a marathon, I distinctly remember thinking to myself after completing the very first scheduled ‘long run’ alongside my newfound running buddies, “Did we seriously just run from like, Fort Wayne to Huntington?”  While we were all hobbling back towards our cars, I heard one of them utter in response to what I must have in actuality, thought out loud, “We did!  We did!”

At that moment, the why we just ran that far wasn’t answered in words, but in action – we danced in the streets (whereby “danced” equals Elaine-like moves from her Seinfeld days since our hips were a smidge creaky), screamed Woooohoooo!!! about a thousand times, and high-fived like we were….well, kids again. 

The question of “why?” never needed to be pondered again.  We were recapturing our youth.  We were forming new friendships based on trust and camaraderie.  We were setting individual goals which would be tackled in collective effort.  We would share physical and mental pain alike, running side-by-side five days a week at offensively early hours of the morning, sometimes not even coming close to what the training planned demanded we complete.  And yet we never stopped running down our dream of finishing our first marathon.
Note the word “we.”  Running alone provides solace, clarity, and time we all need to unwind, unplug, and just sort of take a break from this crazy world in which we live.  But running together will bond you for life.  When you go through the highs and lows of what running encompasses, whether it be in the span of one run, one 16-week training plan, or one lap around the track, you are part of an immediate and understood fellowship that is unrivaled and one you will never forget.
This year marks the eighth consecutive year for the Fort for Fitness and the first year it offers a marathon distance.  Much like we as individuals evolve over time, so has the F4F.  Every year the field of racers has grown in number, and additionally, there are now four distances from which to choose:  4-mile, 10k, Half-marathon, and this inaugural year of…the full marathon. 
Having run not only the F4F every year since inception as well as many other races over the last eight years, I can tell you unequivocally that it is one of the best put together races anywhere out there.  From the ease of registration, to packet pick-up, to the goody bag with top notch swag – all the non-running stuff is fantastic!  But how is the course you ask?  EVEN BETTER!  The starting line is exhilarating, crowd support is amazing, and the route is fast, flat, and scenic with plenty of aid stations along the way.   Last year, I may have even stopped with a mile to go and taken a shot of beer instead of Gatorade or water because hey, carbs.
If I didn’t have you at beer, allow me to add this – the race finishes on home plate at Parkview Field!  While most of us may never know what it’s like to throw out the tying run at the plate or slide into it for the win, we all know how to be that runner.  We all know how to be a kid at heart who still wants to see his or her face on the jumbotron as thousands of screaming fans and one announcer are yelling our name in anticipation of us circling the bases and finally crossing the finish line.
26.2 miles seems like a long way, you say.  It is.  But you can do it.  Regardless of how far you may not be able to run right now, you can get there.  Along with running buddies, time, and dedication, there are three imperative kinds of runs which you will need to incorporate into your weekly training regimen: a long run, a tempo run, and a speed workout.
No idea what those are or what a “training regimen” even is?  Runner’s World can help.  Check out this site: http://www.runnersworld.com/tag/training-plans, or go to one of our local running stores (Fleet Feet or Three Rivers Running Company) for all the information necessary to help you achieve your goal.   
The race is Saturday, October 1st at 7:00am.  Which means you have between now and the first week in June to ease into working out, eating better, and informing your loved ones of this incredible decision before official training begins…because we all know the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
And good news for you, you’re only going 26.2. 


“If you want to win something, run 100 meters…If you want to experience something, run a marathon.”   –Emil Zatopek, Czech long-distance runner best known for winning three gold medals at the 1952 Summer Olympics.

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