On Oct. 5, I completed my third career marathon at the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee. To some, that may seem impressive; in reality it pales in comparison to many of the men and women I run alongside. Some of my trail mates have 10 or 20 times the amount of marathons under their fuel belts than I do.
No matter how many races we have all run, distance runners have one thing in common; people either ﬁnd us courageous or crazy.
I think we fall somewhere in between.
The origin of the marathon stems from an Ancient Greek tale. The legend states that the Athenians sent a man named Phidippides (also known in folklore as Philippides) to run the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to announce a Greek victory and Phidippides died on the spot. Many historians and ancient authors believe this story to be a myth; the real account being Phidppides was sent by the Athenians to Sparta to ask for military assistance. At any rate, this fable is the basis for the modern day marathon and why we are challenged to run 26.2 miles.
The most common question I am posed; why do you run? The answer, like anything in life, is a layered one.
In the simplest form, I run to stay in shape. I love to eat and throw back a beer or two. Running allows me to enjoy both.
On a deeper level, I run for my sanity.
For me, running is therapy. It allows me to process a day, whether it be a good one or bad. With each passing step I can often feel things like stress, anger, and disappointment dripping away. The time alone gives me a chance to think through my emotions; often keeping me from acting erratically.
Some of my favorite running moments are when I don't think at all and just allow myself to take one step at a time. There are times, like a few days ago, when the air was warm and the ground crisp with fallen leaves; and instead of trying to solve problems or plan ahead, I just ran and observed. I found my mind wandering from the gorgeous colors of the leaves, to the quiet solace you can ﬁnd right in the heart of the city.
Just like life, running can force you to slow down and take it all in.
Running also allows me to learn about myself through others. While training for a marathon, I often train with fellow distance racers. (It's the only way to make it through the 18- and 20-mile training runs!) When I'm jogging for almost three hours with a new group of people, we inevitably talk about everything from running to religion to sports or politics. Considering I'm expending so much energy at the athletic task at hand, patience and tolerance to opposing views is the only course of action.
I guess the question still remains, why run for so long? The casual runner who logs 10 or 15 miles a week can surely reap the same beneﬁts, so why go 26.2?
The answer is the ﬁnish line. For me, nothing compares to crossing the tape of a marathon. I will never win a race, but with each passing marathon I am trying to better myself -- or as we call it in the running world -- set a personal record. Running is my way of setting a goal, attaining it, and enjoying it.
I can hope or dream of being the next big sports anchor, but too many outside components factor into career success.
Running is different. I only have myself to depend on in both success and failure; making both unbelievably rewarding. When I succeed I have achieved a personal standard, allowing me to aim higher next time. In my failures I have learned what mistakes I will try and avoid the next time around.
This year was a success. I set a goal to run in three hours and 40 minutes or less, which would qualify me for the Boston Marathon. I ﬁnished the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee in a personal best 3:37:02 and am now Boston bound.
(On a side note, I'd like to thank my family and friends who were there to cheer me on along the marathon course. It made the day even more amazing. It should also be pointed out that the Lakefront Marathon is one of the best events I've taken part in. Milwaukee should be proud of the support it offered along the course and the rousing success of the race.)
Trenni Kusnierek is a sports reporter and radio host who has worked for networks such as ABC, Big Ten, MLB, and NFL. She is currently on 540 ESPN in Milwaukee on both the D-List and Broad Side. Kusnierek is also freelance writing and reporting until January, when she will leave on a service trip to India.
A graduate of Marquette University, she holds a degree in Broadcast and Electronic Journalism. An avid marathon runner, Kusnierek qualified for the 2010 Boston Marathon by running a 3:37:02 at the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee.