I used to watch the NYC Marathon flow by First Avenue with awe, and wonder what it takes to get there, how it feels in your body, and what kind of mind set you need to run it.
Finally, my curiosity got the best of me. I had studied exercise physiology and anatomy but wanted to experience the science in my own body. I signed up for my first marathon and proceeded to complete seven in five years – five NYC, one Long Island and one Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.
While training, I made lifelong friends with my running partners and enjoyed a healthy social life of carbo-loading pasta dinners. We got to experience the heart beat of NYC in the spirit of the spectators as they cheer the runners on. We felt the pride of crossing the finish line and receiving the medal around our necks.
I learned lessons in goal-setting, physical training and mental motivation, including pushing myself to the limit. Concern about the risk of overuse injuries and their potential long-term effects, however, convinced me to return to a more moderate, balanced exercise program.
My sense of awe for the runners has only grown with the personal knowledge of what it takes to get to the finish line.