A lot of the last three years have been spent trying to get my knees back into good shape for running. I've still been doing marathons regularly, but not at the frequency of the past. The last two or three months have been a real confidence booster, however. Weekend before last was a real test of my level of endurance - a double marathon weekend.
It was the Stonemad Ultramarathon event, beginning in Carlow, Ireland. You could create your own event, running ultramarathons one or both days, marathons one or both days, or even half marathons. Francine and I picked the two-day marathon option. Day 1: a scenic run along the River Barrow from Carlow to Graiguenamanagh. The beautiful Irish countryside, the river, the pastures filled with cattle or sheep, and a few friendly locals along the way made for a beautiful run. But that was the easy day. Day 2 was a run from Graiguenamanagh up to the top of Mt. Leinster and then down a trail on the other side as we looped back into town. The night between we slept on the floor at the local Scout hall.
The thing that struck me the most at the end of the event is that I felt even better at the end of Day 2 than at the end of Day 1. I was expecting my knees to be in worse shape, but no. When we continue to demand things from ourselves, we find out that we're in better and better shape.
If this is your first marathon or half marathon, you'll find that out about yourself. There will be times that you expect things to shut down. But they won't. You'll keep going, and find out that there's a lot more in the tank than you imagined.
Just don't ever give up. You're stronger than you think.