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First Marathon Recap | More Than a 26.2-mile Run

Last Saturday I stood before a giant mountain. A mountain that no one in my family has had the opportunity to climb. That “mountain” was the Baltimore Marathon.

Shoes properly broken in: Check.

Body Glide strategically applied: Check.

Giant bagel with peanut butter consumed: Check.


Gatorade coursing through my veins: Check.

Perfect running weather: Check.

Decent night’s sleep: Check.

Mental determination: Check.

I was good to go!

Now I’ll admit, I’m the kind of person who tends to worry and often doubt my own abilities. Not that day. I knew that one way or another, I was going to cross that finish line.

The longest I had run before this day was one 20-mile run. I was told that “if you can run 20, you can run 26.2.” I believed it. And at the 20-mile mark, you’re driven by what you believe, because by then your glycogen stores in the muscles are out – your tank is empty – and only determination will thrust you forward.

The first part of the run was amazing – dare I say the best I had felt for 12 miles. I had to walk a little after that, but not for long. We continued on the course, watching the fans and seeing the sights of the city. We even found my parents and hometown friends waiting for us just past the halfway mark. At that point I knew that my husband and kids were waiting for us near the finish line.

My friends Katie, who LOVES marathons, and Jen, who claimed she would never run another marathon after last year’s New York one but did this for me, were great running partners. This run wasn’t like our training runs. Our training runs were my therapy. We talked about life, discussed issues, and distracted ourselves from the beating we put on our legs. In this run there wasn’t much talking. Sure, some, but I had on my “determination face” and kept looking forward. There were times Jen didn’t know what to do with me.

The second half of the course was challenging. From mile 15 to about mile 23, it was mostly uphill. “One more hill.” We heard that a lot. Lies, all lies! The hills were relentless. But once we saw the city skyline, we knew the end (and lots of downhill) was in sight. But my legs were tired. We took more walk breaks, and kept moving forward.

The final push led us to Camden Yards stadium, and once I turned the corner and saw that the finish was near, I hear “Lori!” “Mama!” and looked to the left to see my family there cheering me in. I smiled and waved, and got a little choked up.

Once we crossed the line, we received our medals and walked into the runners’ village in search of the Maryland Double medal, which Jen and I earned for running the Frederick Half Marathon and the Baltimore Full in the same year. On the way I saw my kids, and I will never forget how my daughter smiled at me when I saw her. She was so excited to be wearing the Baltimore Marathon hoodie that I bought at the expo a couple of days earlier. (She later told me she slept in it the night before.)

We did it! I did it!

For the few days after the marathon, my body was still pretty worn out and my legs and feet were sore. A small price to pay.

This was more than a 26.2-mile run to me. It marked another milestone in my journey toward living a better, healthier life, and doing what I can to be around for my kids as long as I possibly can. This experience reminded me of a quote from St. Catherine of Siena: “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”

This was great.


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[author_info]About the Author

Lori Rypka is the Prime Parents Club Fitness Contributor, a mom of two wonderful kids first, a writer, wife, friend, personal trainer and marathon runner in training second. She enjoys helping others in their personal journeys toward living healthier lives. The biggest tool in her tool box: humor. Who says dieting can’t be fun? You can find Lori at, or on Twitter as @LoriRypka.





Lori Rypka has been certified as a personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise since April 2010, and enjoys helping friends find their healthy selves. Follow Lori on her blog at Fumbled Into Fitness.


  1. Anja

    October 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Wow, you rock! So happy for you on finishing the big M! I am still working hard on my first 10K, maybe I can do a half next year. Keep on running! ((HUGS))

  2. Jackie (WritRams)

    October 24, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Wow. What an accomplishment. Congrats. This post made me all teary and gave me goosebumps. (LOVED the part about your daughter, too.) Thanks for sharing.

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