By Nate Johnson
I really started my running journey when I was fourteen. The year before (2008), I saw my mom finish the Med-City Marathon. For me, I had slept in, ate breakfast, played in the pool, and was waiting to go home. I saw my mom running to the finish and went over telling her to hurry up and run faster. She pushed me out of the way. From that moment, I figured I could run a marathon. If my mom could run one, how hard could it actually be?
In the winter of 2009, my mom signed us up for “The Monster Series”. It consisted of a variety of races, ranging from a 5K to marathon race distances. The cool thing was you got a jacket for completing the races! My first race was Valentine’s 5K. I think my time was twenty-six or twenty-seven minutes. I ran with my mom until she let sprint it in. I passed so many people and felt on cloud nine.
Throughout the winter, I ran with a training group building up towards my first half marathon. Training had its ups and downs. Some runs would go by fast, while others I would get frustrated running with my mom and would just walk it in.
My first half marathon was the Indianapolis mini-marathon. My goal time was 1:45. I enjoyed the race and got to kiss the bricks on the track. My time was around 1:50. I ran with my mom until the last mile. Again, I felt super fast coming down the stretch into the finish line.
Around this time, I kept increasing my Saturday long runs. From 12 to 14 to 16. My mom thought that I could run the full marathon. So I got bumped up to the full Minneapolis Marathon.
Here is what my training consisted of me for the first marathon.
-Monday: Run the Mile, 800, and 4X400 at a middle school track meet.
-Tuesday-Thursday: Hang out by shot put pit talking with friends goofing off
-Friday: 3 mile run with the track coach.
-Saturday: Long run with Team Ortho
-Sunday: Rest Day
Now that was a bad training plan. In my mind, I figured I’d suck it up and it wouldn’t be too hard. Besides, I was young and pretty fit. How hard could it be?
Marathon #1: I woke up bright and early on marathon day. It was still pitch black leaving the driveway. It was nice to sleep in my own bed the night before the race. My mom and I got to the race start. Going into the race, I was telling everyone I wanted to break five hours in the marathon. As we were lining up I piped up saying “Let’s break four hours today!” So we lined up with the 4-hour pacer.
The race began. It was smooth sailing for the first few miles. At the first water stop, I lost my mom for a few minutes. I was freaking out in my mind:
What am I going to do?
How am I going to stay on pace?
Do I just try to run ahead and find her?
Should I drop out?
I found her a few moments later and we continued on. I stayed right next to her throughout the rest of the water stops. I was still feeling fine through the first half of the race. My dad and sister came out to cheer us on and brought us Gatorade.
At mile 20, just like clockwork, I hit “THE WALL”. My legs felt heavy, the body was cramping up, felt like crap. I would stop at porta-a-potties just to give my feet a break. I broke down. This marathon thing was tough. My mom even called my grandpa Wayne to keep me going. The last mile, two guys past us. She told me to go get them. I found a spring in my step. I sprinted up two LARGE STEEP hills. I passed the two guys and finished my first marathon.
Afterwards, my body gave out. While my mom waited to get my medal engraved, I collapsed on a random table looking like I passed out. I don’t remember walking to the car. To top it off, when we tried to leave the parking garage, it was credit card only when my mom only had cash. We got home and I took a fantastic shower, ate pizza and cake, and passed out for the rest of the day.