Natalie Wexler on Marathons, Bucket Lists, and Bad Decisions

NatalieNatalie Wexler This isn’t an underdog story. Not even close. This is the story of how sometimes an idea that seems like a good one really isn’t that great by the time you notice you’re 13.1 miles into a 26.2 mile marathon. Back in October, I completed the Chicago Marathon. It was hands down one of the dumbest, most challenging, yet strangely rewarding things I have ever done. Why did I do it? It was on my bucket list and the minimum age to participate was 16, and I turned 16 one month and two days before the race. Great reasons, right? Prior to the race I didn’t do that much training because I was a naïve and clueless teenager who thought “how hard could it be?” I was planning on walking most of it anyway and wasn’t looking to place, just to finish. The morning of the race I felt confident and super excited. All of the pictures that I took before the race had captions of “first marathon!” or  “can’t wait!” or  “it’s going to be so fun!” I even kept an iPhone notes “diary” that I used voice typing to keep track of! The first few miles were great. I was feeling confident and was actually enjoying the running (please do not show this to track Coach Dan Daly). After a while I started to get tired and by the halfway point I was EXHAUSTED, my feet hurt, and I was considering quitting. When we got to the halfway point, people started throwing their hands up in the air in a celebratory manner because we were 13.1 miles in and “only” had 13.1 miles to go! (Note: A massive amount of sarcasm was utilized in the prior sentence.) The next few miles were a blur and when I got to mile 20, that’s when the course started turning towards the finish line which was “only” 6.2 miles ahead. 6.2 miles doesn’t sound like a lot, but after you’ve been up since 5 a.m. and constantly moving/standing for a number of miles, every step is painful, but every step is one step farther from the starting line and closer to the finish line. Going up hills is hard; going up a hill after walking for the last 7 hours and 14 minutes is brutal. Yes, the last 0.2 miles of the marathon took place going up a hill, and I was ready for it to all be over. They say when you think you can’t do it anymore, you can always find a little something within yourself and continue. Somehow I found it in myself to sprint 0.2 miles up that hill. I finished the marathon in seven hours and seventeen minutes with a finishers medal hanging around my neck, a check off of my bucket list, a sense of accomplishment, a new understanding of perseverance, the inability to walk, a wicked sunburn, a pretty sweet Facebook profile pic, and as one of the youngest finishers. I guess the moral of this story is that you should go out for the things you want to do because if your mind is set on a goal, you will most likely find a way to achieve it. I hate running, yet I have always wanted to do a marathon. Somehow, I finished it. Also, always wear sunscreen if you will be in the sun for prolonged periods of time or else you will get a wicked sunburn.]]>