Editor’s Note: You met Caitlin on this blog when Caitlin met “Running Legends” Frank Shorter and Jim Ryun. Recently, Caitlin’s own journey of perseverance met another milestone. In addition to losing 70 pounds, Caitlin completed her first 26.2 mile race at the Richmond Marathon. The Race Before Us asked her some questions about that run. Her interview is below. [Earlier this week, we interviewed Matt about his first marathon at a post entitled First Marathon I.]
1. What surprised you the most about running the marathon?
Running a marathon, especially at my pace you tend to have a lot of time to think. As I passed the single digit miles and into the later teens I found myself thinking about my first day of cross-country running in college. The coach loaded all of us into a van, drove out 3 miles, dropped us off, and told us to make our way back. I thought he was joking even as he drove away. The more experienced runners in the group did their quick stretches and ran off. The novices of the group, including myself, were a little concerned. After a few minutes we were all on our way back to campus. With a few periods of walking, the three miles took me about 45 minutes.
I recalled the several years of running off and on, finally deciding to start running in races feeling that having to pay for them would be good motivation to keep up with my exercise. After 5K’s, 8K’s, 10K’s, and several half-marathons under my belt, and after soaking up as much information as I possibly could, I finally decided to sign up for my first marathon. I couldn’t believe I was finally going to do it. Now as I ran along, I began to realize that everything I had accomplished with my training, all the ups and downs, all of the support of family and friends – all of it was about to be culminated in this 26.2 miles ahead of me.
2. What was most fun? What was toughest?
One of the major attractions to races for me is the spirit of the crowd. It’s like no other and the Richmond Marathon was no exception. The excitement of the crowds at the expo and packet pick up with venders selling all sorts of merchandise – the buzz of upcoming races, experiences in past races, training styles, excitements and fears of the next days race. On race day you can feel the energy of the crowd waiting at the start line in the respective waves and the spectators waiting for friends, family, and total strangers. I love being part of a group that has such a positive attitude about pushing their bodies to gain their personal goals.
For me the toughest part had to be keeping up with the training and not having the benefit of a training group, I had to rely on self motivation. I was able to keep up with it for the most part, but injuries kept me away during most of the longer runs towards the end. Even though there were some setbacks it was a great learning experience for future marathons.
3. What aspects of training, or the race itself, did you enjoy the most?
The best part of this race was the overwhelming support from friends and family. My friend, Matt Tucci, decided to run the race with me. Knowing that he would be there at the starting line also became a motivation all on its own. As the date got closer we all started to talk about our family coming up to support us throughout the race. I was excited that they decided to find several spots along the route to cheer us along. Seeing them at the 6, 14, 21, and the final stretch not only gave me the motivation I needed to keep going but made me a little emotional (you should see me now, tearing up). At the 21 mile mark my cousin Morgan ran up beside me and started to jog saying that if I didn’t mind she would stay with me for a few miles. She was definitely the final push I needed. I had such an amazing time and am thankful to everyone who gave their support.
4. What role did The Race Before Us play in your race?
I procrastinated on reading The Race Before Us. I would hear my parents talk about how it was an amazing read and that there was tons to learn from it. Reading it before the race was always in my plans so about a week before, a brisk Friday morning, I made a cup of coffee and grabbed a bowl of roasted almonds, sat out on the deck and started reading. My mom was right, I laughed out loud on the first page. As the pages and chapters went on I learned a lot of what to expect for the upcoming race, tips and tricks to keep in mind. One big part was learning about my uncle’s spiritual journey. I enjoyed the chapters about running, but engaged even more with the ones about faith and how he worked hard at understanding it. Feeling the passion that he had for running and his faith has inspired me to not only keep going on in my own physical journey but to re-examine my own spiritual journey by stepping outside of the traditional walls of a church and start putting in the work to truly understand why I believe what I believe.