My Surprising Source of Marathon Strength

I injured myself while training for my first marathon. Could I still find the strength to run?

by - Posted on Nov 4, 2016

My Surprising Source of Marathon Strength

Everyone around me was ready to run. A crowd of spandex tights, colorful headbands, and bouncing shoes swarmed the brightly lit expo hall, collecting giveaways from all the sporting goods vendors and running shoe companies that had come to promote their wares. Three weeks until the New York City Marathon, a 26.2 mile race through the city’s five boroughs, and some of the best runners in the world would soon descend on my city. Meanwhile, here I was, feeling like I’d never make it to the finish line.

Until a week ago, I’d been so confident. Since I’d started running I’d lost 80 pounds—yes, 80—and kept myself injury free. I’d completed five half-marathons and more than a hundred road races. For eight months, I’d been training for the marathon with other runners from the Staten Island Athletic Club, gradually building up my mileage—a 5K to 13.1 miles, eventually to a 22-mile run. I was focused, ready. This was going to be a breeze.

Then, on my longest training run yet, I tripped and fell face-first into the pavement. I busted up my nose and teeth, sprained my right ankle. I had to take a week off from training, and spent many hundreds on medical and dental bills. I’d dedicated most of the year to this race—did I have enough strength left to finish what I’d started? I really needed a pep talk.

At the expo, a sneaker company set up a wheel that runners could spin to win gift cards, from $10 to $25. I got in line. Most people won nothing. Then it was my turn. I spun the wheel…. 25 buckaroos!

At least for the moment, I felt like a winner. The sneaker company had a store right across the street, so I went over to see what I could get with my prize. Unfortunately, everything was way too expensive.

Then I glimpsed something pink, blue, and aqua—perfectly matching my running shoes. I pushed some hangers aside. In the back of the rack was a pair of capri leggings, patterned with trees that reminded me of Central Park, where the marathon finishes. On sale—only $25.19.

I pulled them off the rack, and as I did, saw what was stitched on the right leg, just above the ankle: “STRONGER EVERY DAY.”

Just the pep talk I needed. And it only cost me 19 cents.

Editor’s Note: Lisa finished the New York City Marathon on Sunday with a time of 6:16:09. Here she is after the race wearing the running tights that inspired her to keep on going.


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For more on Lisa Swan's journey to the New York City Marathon, read her profile here.

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