Everyone told me that running a marathon didn't have to be a painful and frustrating experience. They were wrong! As a fifteen-year-old sophomore, I decided to enter the Race For a Cure Marathon. I regularly ran six miles per day on the track team and I liked the idea of completing a race for charity (cancer research). I initially didn't think the commitment would require more than five months training before the big day. As I investigated different training regimen, the enormity of the challenge sank in. Each required an aggressive eighteen-week period and a minimum of four days a week: a high commitment. The duration of these runs also increased throughout the program, requiring a gradual increase in time, peaking at fifteen hours per week.
The physical training was tough (due to an old knee injury), but managing my time was tougher. I was taking a full courseload at Briarcliffe Academy, including laboratory classes in Chemistry and Physics.
My academic commitments were as intense as my running schedule, stretching my organizational skills to the limit. Yet I embraced the training with gusto, gradually building my strength and increasing my distances. With just five weeks to go, I could run twenty miles. To juggle my dual commitments of school and running, I became a master of efficiency, developing organizational skills I continue to practice today. Unfortunately, my knee was also beginning to trouble me at these longer distances.
On the race day, I covered my knee in pain-relieving gel and progressed to the starting point. For the first twelve miles I felt confident, but I found it difficult to increase pace with the mass of runners in front of me. Forced to slow down, I contained the pain in my knee and continued to run at a comfortable pace.