Bucknell Women's Rowing Journal - Caitlin Vogelsang
Feb. 4, 2011
Almost a year ago, Jilli, Colie, Sarah, Hilary, Hannah, and I - having decided to study abroad for the fall semester of our junior year in various European destinations - wondered what we could do to help us stay in shape for our return to rowing in the spring. To this day we aren't sure whose idea it was, but eventually the decision was made to run the Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes from Nice to Cannes in France on November 14.
Five months later, marathon-training time was upon me, and I started to realize just what I had gotten myself into. Having no real running experience and 18 weeks of training ahead of me was daunting, especially because for the first time I would have to train and compete alone without my teammates. As my training runs grew progressively longer and more difficult I would try to make excuses not to train, then I would remember my teammates back in Lewisburg, how they were building strength and speed for the spring and this motivated me to continue pushing myself. Keeping my teammates in mind reminded me I wasn't completely alone and helped me get through many runs, including two 20-milers.
Finally the big day had arrived and we all met up in Nice for what Sarah Small optimistically dubbed the "43-kilometer fun run." Although Colie's dad tried to warn us that the last 6.2 miles were way harder than the first 20, it was impossible for me to comprehend that idea or even understand what I was about to endure. It was just too much of an unknown to be scared of that pain; my only fear was failure of attaining my goal time of 3 hours, 30 minutes but ultimately all we any of us wanted to do was finish the marathon.
As I started the run, my racing experience paid off. From the start I knew not to go out too hard; even though there were countless people flying past me, I knew that ultimately they would tire themselves out and I could maintain my steady pace. At the 17-mile mark I surged up the biggest hill of the course and felt great, putting up one of my fastest splits on the way up and an even faster one on the downhill that followed. At the 22-mile marker I still felt good, convinced myself that maybe I was better than those people who struggled so much with the last 6.2 miles and said it was harder than the first 20. Then I hit the wall. Mile 23 lasted forever, and it was at this point that I began the real test, when I would have to push myself harder physically than I ever had before.
The last three miles are a blur. Even though I was running along what could probably be one of the most beautiful courses in the world, I didn't see any of it. I searched for the finish line and tried to remember all my past racing experience, searching desperately for that extra piece of motivation to get me across the line in time. I thought back to the grand final of IRAs my freshman year in 2009. Our coxswain, Katherine Anderson, told us "Let's unzip... get naked," with 500 meters to go and we somehow crossed the finish line in second place. Now it was time to lay everything on the line again, and this time I think I did it even better. When I could finally see the finish line, with the clock above it literally ticking away the seconds to 3:30:00, it took everything I had to keep going. But somehow I did it, finishing in 3:29:32 ¯ with 28 seconds to spare.
That day I pushed myself to a new level, and now, returning from abroad and starting the spring season, I hope to bring that experience to everything I do. Every erg piece, every stroke on the water, even every lift I know that I have experienced a new level of pushing myself. Doing a little more, pushing a little harder doesn't seem as hard anymore. After the marathon, I know a new level of pain and I think I'm less afraid to try and get there again. Hopefully I can bring my teammates with me.
- Caitlin Vogelsang '12