“What you put in, you get back.”
Another Fargo Marathon has come and gone. It feels strange writing about the Fargo Marathon with fall feels and scenes all around. This race, my favorite race, typically takes place in May.
While hopefully temporary, this changing of seasons was wonderful. Adding another race to the fall calendar certainly was welcome by me. But it appeared to be a good thing in several ways. And I walked away with a few reminders about what running and race days are all about.
First, I have to give a few shoutouts to some friends who tackled some major goals. A close friend has been working hard on speed and strength. Her goal was a 10k in around 47 minutes. She ran it under 45 minutes. And she placed in the top 10 for women. Amazing.
Another friend took up running a couple years ago. Last year, his goal was a sub 2-hour half marathon. This year, he went even bigger, setting the goal to run his first full marathon. He put in the work, ran lots of miles, and did it – and in an impressive 4:30 and change. Awesome.
A third has been training for her first half marathon for months. She has weathered setbacks and been completely honest about how much it can suck sometimes having a goal so big. But she never gave up and she crossed the finish line well under her goal time – and, best of all, with a huge smile on her face.
These stories reminded me about what race day really is. They reminded me about the work and rewards of running.
Race day, while hard work, isn’t the really hard work. Race day, while an achievement, isn’t the real achievement. Stay with me.
The Work Behind Running
The most common thing people say when they find out I run marathons is, “I could never run 26 miles.” The most common thing people realize when training for a marathon (at least in my experience) is just how much work and time and sacrifice goes into it.
The hard part about running a marathon isn’t that 26.2 on race day. The hard part about running a 7:15 pace for 6.2 miles isn’t actually doing it that one time. The hard part is everything that goes in leading up to that day, that moment.
Performing on race day isn’t the hard part. Performing on race day is the reward.
I think people forget what’s behind all the running. People see you cross the finish line and achieve your goal. They don’t see all the blisters, the awful runs, the early mornings, the foam rolling, the exhaustion, and all the grit and work, the discipline and dedication that got you there.
To all you runners who put in the time and hard work to achieve your goal, high fives to you. I see you. I know you are already proud of yourself. I know you don’t need me, a total stranger, to be proud of you. But I am.
The Reward Behind Running
Running is easy and it is not easy. Running can be something you love one day and loathe the next. So why do we run? Why do we embrace the black toenails, skip out on happy hours, wake up earlier on weekends than we do on weekdays, and put our bodies and minds through it all?
Whether you are training for a race or just doing it for health, running is about giving what you have and getting back so much more in return. And that return is different for everyone. But I can say that I get as much back from running as I put into it.
As for my first (and hopefully last) September Fargo Marathon experience, it was great. The weather was perfection. Upper 40s, cloudy, minimal wind. I could not have chosen more ideal conditions for a race day. I got to co-pace the 2:00 half marathon group alongside a great runner and great friend. There were so many great people running alongside us and cheering from the sidelines. The miles flew by and as soon as I crossed the finish line, I wanted to do it all over again.
For me, running is about health, stress relief, and being the best version of myself. And, of course, a perfect race day is always a great reward.
What’s why I run – how about you? What do you get back from it? Did you run a Fargo Marathon race or have a recent race day victory? The comments are all yours so please share.