Sports have always been a big part of my life. I was a dedicated member of my high school varsity soccer, swimming, and lacrosse teams. As a senior, I co-captained the girl's soccer and co-ed swim teams. When I got to college, I swam on the women's varsity swim team for a year, before moving on to ultimate frisbee, which didn't require quite as intense a commitment.
|Emily wrapped in a mylar sheet after completing the Boston marathon.|
Until I stopped swimming, practices structured my life. I loved setting goals, training with a purpose, measuring improvements, feeling strong and fast, and working with a team. Most of my best friends were also teammates.
Still, I never thought I'd end up running marathons. I was a distance swimmer and an avid hiker. In those activities, I could happily go for hours without stopping. But I used to hate running for its own sake. After a few miles, I'd end up bored and exhausted.
When I left college and started moving a lot, I found that running was one kind of exercise I could do anywhere. Funny enough, the more running I did, the more I actually enjoyed it.
Soon after moving to Minnesota, I met my friend Annie. She had already run four marathons and had vowed to keep running them until she qualified for Boston. Her best time, 3 hours and 42 minutes, was still 2 minutes shy of the 3:40 qualifying time for our age group. She was looking for a training partner, she told me when we first met. Was I interested?
That was nearly 2 years ago. Months of running together has turned Annie into one of my best friends. We talk about everything on our long training runs, bonded by foul weather and strange pains.
Annie and I ran Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., in June 2002. Even though it was my first running race ever, both of us managed to qualify for Boston! I finished in 3 hours, 37minutes. Annie squeezed in at 3 hours, 39 minutes.
Boston was a tougher course than Grandma's. The physical and mental anguish was intense. Still, nothing can compare to the feeling of finishing a marathon after months of training. And, as painful as it is to run 26.2 consecutive miles, there is something addictive about the sense of accomplishment.
In fact, I signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon just weeks after finishing Boston, even though I vowed that it, too, would be my last one. The race happened a month ago, and I ran my best time yet: 3:34. Now I'm injured and can't run at all. Perhaps, it's time to retire from marathons once and for all. Or maybe, once I recover, I'll do just one more . . . .