Crossing the finish line
Dr. Samantha Ristimaki, BSc, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
In my 20’s, I ran to help deal with the stresses of every day life. I swear if it were not for my morning runs, I never would have made it through graduate school. I made it my goal early on to run a marathon before I turned 30 but I was never motivated to commit to a strict training schedule.
By my late 20’s, establishing a business had gotten in the way of my running routine. Then suddenly, 6 months before my 30th birthday, a little alarm went off. It was a signal that said if I actually wanted to realize my goal of running a marathon, I had better strap on my runners and hit the pavement.
Having been away from running a while, I was a little rusty. I remember my first run. It was on a cold day. Throwing on my runners I headed out to attempt what I thought was a reasonable distance. By the time I got half way, I felt like I was running at a snail’s pace and could feel the frost building on my eyebrows. I didn’t realize how far away from running I had actually come.
I went to work that day and questioned whether or not this was something realistic to ask of myself. Would I be able to keep up with training and my every day life?
Still determined, the only marathon I had enough time to prepare for fell 3 days before my 30th birthday. I downloaded a program off the internet and started formal training 16 weeks from race day. It was the middle of January. I even had to dig out all my ski gear to stay warm on longer runs.
Sundays were dedicated to long distance training and it was just my luck that it snowed quite frequently Saturday nights. I soon discovered snowplows are not as quick to clear the roads on weekends! It was painstaking to push through the deep snow but I stuck it out. I made sure to tell all my friends about my crazy running adventures.
On race day a few of my friends who promised to be at the finish line realized it was mother’s day and opted not to come. Even my mom got sick that weekend and was not able to make my big race. Initially, I was saddened by the fact that I had put all this training effort in and no one would be there to help me celebrate.
By the time the gun went off shortly after 7am that day, I had convinced myself I had done each and every run on my own and the only person who needed to be there was me. The first 24km were a breeze! Who would imagine that I could ever live to say such a thing? But, the motivation to continue started to dwindle as my body grew more and more fatigued. By the 40km mark, I felt so close to the end, so I dug a little bit deeper and picked up my pace. By the time the finish line was in sight, that drive was even stronger and I pushed straight to the end. I couldn’t help but let out a big sigh of relief. I probably looked exhausted but inside, I felt overwhelmed with happiness. Other runners had their partners and other family members there with open arms, flowers and food. Proudly, I picked up a water bottle and some crackers and headed for the bus.
I can’t believe what an incredible sense of accomplishment I felt afterwards. I had realized my goal. With only 3 days to spare before my 30th birthday, I had challenged myself to do something for me and me alone. I didn’t qualify for an additional race nor will racing become my main aspiration in life but the run served a huge purpose for me going into my 30’s. I can accomplish anything that I put my mind to and that I shouldn’t ever let my age, my schedule or the snow stop me!
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