Recently, this week’s Campus Celebrity had the opportunity to check something off of her bucket list: run a marathon. On September 22, the Quad Cities Marathon took place, and St. Ambrose’s Meghan Rettenmeier was ready for the challenge.
Running 26.1 miles is a daunting task, but it was something Meghan always wanted to do. However, as she was studying abroad in Mexico last year, she found some inspiration to actually go for it. One of her professors there was training for an Iron Man competition, and that prompted her to start thinking about going for her dream of completing a marathon.
When she returned to America, Meghan was surprised to find how different life felt. “I definitely had reverse culture shock and felt lost. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wanted something to focus on and something to look forward to. That’s really when I decided I wanted to start training for the marathon.”
Although it seemed like a tall order for herself, Meghan looked forward to the challenge, reaching a goal, and reaching a dream.
Because of the magnitude of the race, she kept realistic expectations for herself in training. It started off with three to four mile runs for a couple weeks before Meghan began to push herself more. Fifteen weeks before the marathon, she began using a training outline that she found online.
“Basically I started increasing the distance on two days a week. I would always take about two days off each week and the other three days I ran between 3-5 miles. The longest run I ran was 20 miles which I did twice in training. The other long day each week was a maximum of 12 miles.”
Of course, like most collegiettes, Meghan has quite a demanding schedule. Throughout her training, she did have to alter the schedule somewhat due to other circumstances, but overall, she completed the training as planned. She found motivation to stick to her schedule by writing out her training schedule and having people to hold her accountable for her training. She found that support not only in her friends, family, and boyfriend, but especially in her boyfriend’s father, who ran the marathon with her.
As the marathon approached, Meghan set a goal for herself: to finish the race with a time of 4 hours and 20 minutes – essentially running 10 minute miles.
On race day, Meghan was extremely excited. “I didn’t feel as though I was running for the first six miles because of all the adrenaline, excitement, and energy I had. I was distracted by all the runners. The hills weren’t even that bad; I hardly noticed them!”
She started off with her boyfriend’s dad, at about a 9 minute mile pace. For the first 17 miles, Meghan felt very strong and confident in her ability to make her goal time. However, after that she started to feel tired and more doubtful. She was able to overcome this by using the inspiration of the other runners near her.
“One man had run over 100 marathons. Another woman was on her third marathon and running her first one in the US. A few people complimented our race pace and it made me think, ‘Okay I can do this.’”
By the time she reached the 20 mile mark, Meghan was running just ahead of the 4 hour pace runner. She began to push herself by remembering that she would soon see her family and friends cheering for her. The pacer and her boyfriend’s dad continued to run with and support Meghan through the entire race.
At 23 miles, Meghan’s body began to feel exhausted. The pacer also told her to imagine that she was being pulled toward the finish line with a string from her belly button.
Meghan found the most motivation from the crowd. When she was at her most difficult moments, she knew that she would be seeing her supporters along the route cheering for her. “It was awesome seeing my family and friends who came to cheer me on. My sister took the train from Pennsylvania to surprise me! Several of my family members and friends ran with me for a few miles here and there.”
This was especially helpful near the end, when Meghan really needed “mental motivation.” As she came to the finish line, the energy of the crowd pushed her forward and she felt much better.
Meghan crossed the finish line in just under 4 hours, about 20 minutes faster than her original goal. “I loved running the marathon. It felt so good to know I could finish and to surpass my goal and keep a 9 minute pace the whole time.”
Now, Meghan is sure that she wants to do another marathon in the future. She is a testament to setting your mind to something to a task on your bucket list that sounds completely impossible or out of reach and completing it.
Congratulations, Meghan, from the HerCampus SAU staff!