I am qualified for the NYC Marathon of 2017! Last Sunday’s Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff (5M) 2016 on October 30th was the last qualifier race I finished to obtain my guaranteed entry into the marathon, completing my first 9+1 journey. The process to get here was incredibly challenging but I know this is just the beginning. It’s hard to believe that before my first race, I could barely complete my three mile runs. Today, a three mile run (aside from a 5K race) is basically warm-up. Here are my five takeaways from this whole journey.

1. Always a proud Soka lion
During all this, I made it a point to proudly represent my beautiful alma mater at every race I ran. Thank you, Coach Patrick for mailing me a shirt from the West Coast! When I started running for Soka University of America (SUA) in 2007, I never imagined I’d continue my running to this extent after graduating. I’ve always wanted to run the NYC Marathon but doing this 9+1 journey with the support of my entire team brought my experience to a new level. Among all the activities I pursued while at SUA, running with the Cross Country and Track & Field teams has to be at the top. I am so proud to be a Soka lioness.

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this is where it all started.

2. The biggest marathon in the world
The NYC Marathon is the biggest in the world with over 50,000 runners from all over who come together to run 26.2 miles across five boroughs. I’m excited that my first marathon will be the biggest in the world in my own city! I love calling this city mine but I know that after the marathon, the privilege of being able to say that will escalate that much more. In New York City, that first Sunday of November isn’t just about bringing together 50,000+ stories from around the world. It’s a day of 50,000+ victories. I will never know what challenges each runner had to overcome to be at the marathon but damn, they are full of life.

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3. Deepest appreciation to my squad
When I started in June, I was alone. I acted as if I knew what I was doing but I really didn’t. Not knowing where this would lead to was stressful and frightening. I’ve wanted to quit many times because I couldn’t handle disappointing myself. Writing about the process helped and gave me the courage I needed to keep going. But ultimately, I gained the fuel I needed to challenge my fears from those who ran by my side. Bethany, Jihii, Raul and Kimberley, I’m grateful for the example you’ve set and the determination you show. I realized that, in reality, we’re all afraid but manage to summon that power to push through.

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4. This is just the beginning
My marathon qualifications may be complete but I’m not stopping. I’m registered for three more races, including the Ted Corbitt 15K 2016 on Saturday, December 10th, to close out the year and then starting early on my next 9+1 on Saturday, January 7th with the NYRR Joe Kleinerman 10K 2017. Next year, my goal is to run a total of twenty races including the the five-borough series and the NYC Marathon itself. Actualizing my potential isn’t enough. Reaching what I thought was impossible only serves as the motivation to continue striving higher. Having completed my first 9+1 is just the beginning.

5. HEART OF A LION
“Heart of a lion, heart of a champion, can’t be defeated!” That’s right. I’m indestructible. This was our team’s motto and pre-competition chant. I love that even after five years (I graduated in 2011), this chant continues to give me the inspiration I need to win that day. I know that team rituals can be pretty corny and I’m not always for them but I love that ours keeps it real. I secretly wish that on the day of next year’s marathon, my teammates and I could do a live Skype call or something and do a global team chant. Let’s make it happen, shall we? After all, I’m not just running for myself. I’m running for all of us.

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put your hands up!

Now that all nine races are complete, I’ve been contemplating with how I’d like to proceed with this segment of my blog. Although I enjoy writing, I don’t feel as compelled to share a post after every single race. I haven’t run out (no pun intended) of things to share but I want to focus my energy elsewhere. Instead, I could do seasonal check-ins where I write after three or four races and share my experiences that way. What do you think? Have you been enjoying my posts after each race or is it becoming redundant? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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As of today, I officially have 366 days to go. November 5, 2017, I’m coming after you. Let’s get into beast mode!

Cheers,

Riri