It was just after 8 on a warm summer morning when the smell of yeast wafting from the bagel shop inundated our senses. A fresh bagel slathered with cream cheese suddenly became a necessity, but my friend and I were on mile 4 of a 10 mile run and drenched in sweat from our head to our New Balances. This didn’t stop the rhythmic pounding of our feet from slowing down as we passed the storefront, peering inside to get a look at shelves stacked with fresh baked goods. Unsurprisingly, our marathon training regiment did not outline a bagel break for this (or any) session, but the thought of finishing the last 6 miles without tearing into a warm, soft bagel was too upsetting. Minutes later we emerged from the shop, bagel in hand, and continued on our journey, munching on our bagels mid-stride.
Carbohydrates were the silver lining to my marathon training. Yes, the sessions were long and brutal, and yes, my bruised toenails may never look the same, but through it all I had carbs to sustain me. Big, warm bowls of oatmeal topped with bananas, plates upon plates of pasta, and bagels, oh so many bagels, slathered with thick layers of cream cheese.
I want to tell you about these bagels, these dense, chewy, salty bagels that made for a perfect pre-run breakfast. But I also want to share with you what it was like to run a marathon when just a few years ago the thought of running used to make me keel over and start wheezing.
Nothing about going for a run felt natural. When I started running in college my calves would cramp, my lungs would ache, and I’d get the worst side stitch just below my ribs on my right side. But there was something so freeing in the thought of lacing up and hitting the pavement. So even though I was only making it one half mile at a time before fatigue set it and I’d call it a day, I kept going.
What amazed me was the amount of time it took before the benefits of running started outweighing the negatives. Even though it never came easy, it didn’t take long before I began to look forward to my runs. There was something so meditative in the tempo of my feet beating the sidewalk. Minutes would turn into hours as I began to relish this new-found peace and solitude.
I never planned my runs or stuck to a schedule. When I needed some alone time, I ran. When my body was restless and needed activity, I ran. The thought of running a race felt constricting, but I knew it would challenge me to push past what I thought was possible for myself. And that it did.
Crossing the finish line after running 26.2 miles was all the confirmation I needed that we are all so much more capable of what we believe we are. I CAN get up at 4:00 in the morning to squeeze in a 16 mile run before work. I CAN make it through a grueling 20 mile run when all I want is to spend my weekend loafing around, and I CAN finish an entire marathon.
Friends, please believe me when I say that if I can run a marathon, you can do whatever you put your time and energy into. And if that thing happens to be a marathon, boy do I have a treat for you…
These pretzel bagels get their crust from adding a little baking soda to the boiling water. It’s a little trick I use anytime I make pretzels and it adds a delightful slight crisp to the exterior.
Hope your week is off to a great start, friends.