22/05/2018, the day that actually kind of changed my life. After crossing the finish line of my 1st marathon, I knew this was just the start. Although my legs were burning and protesting with every move I made, I had never felt more proud of myself.
First of all, I want to make clear that my preparation leading to my first marathon IS NOT ADVISABLE. I started running longer distances (half marathon) in 2016, so my body was ‘used’ to be put under this sort of stress.
Three weeks before D-day, I tried a 30K run. This one went surprisingly good, taking in consideration that my longest run record was at 25K, which I had run during my gap year (2017). After completing the 30K run, I asked my dad if I couldn’t participate in the marathon instead of the 10 miles. He eventually agreed, not with a lot of enthusiasm.
The lack of enthusiasm was mostly out of concern, since I was only 20y old and had never even run with gels or isotone sport drinks. Nonetheless, all of this couldn’t stop my enthusiasm and my stubbornness.
Consequently, three weeks later I was at the start line of the Antwerp Marathon. All the runners seemed a lot more experienced than I was and I was by far one of the youngest to participate. I was lucky that my dad stayed with me until we started to ‘calm’ me down. Throughout the marathon, family and friends were standing at the side of the road to cheer me up or to hand me water during the hot day. Around kilometer 20, I had no other choice than to use the loo. If I hadn’t, I would have finished under 4h, however, I believe it is already a big accomplishment to have finished with the inadequate kind of preparation I had done.
After, finally, crossing the finish line I had an enormous runners high that kept racing through my body for several more days. I DID IT! However, if I could change something, I would have done it with the right sort of preparation AND a coach. You can perfectly do it on your own, but to have someone to guide you, support you and motivate you is honestly priceless.
Running this marathon has led me to two other marathons and some other really big challenges are coming up soon. So yeah, if you ask me, truly one of the best decisions I have made so far.