There is no garland of ivy leaves for the average runner. Each mile is its own reward. If you make it to 26.2 someone *might* tell you “great job”. But you must want to make it the distance on your own. No one can do it for you. You might have training partners, you might even have someone to run the race with, but really every step is your own.
When I ran my first marathon I trained every mile alone, and then planned to run Chicago with Joe. I never found him in the crowd. I ran the whole distance surrounded by a crowd, but I was completely isolated inside my own head.
I am embarking on this training journey again. I don’t necessarily relish every run. It is sometimes hard to want to put in all the time necessary. It is hard not having someone to run with, but at the same time, moving at your own pace means you never have to depend on anyone else.
All of the miles and training in complete isolation are also tied with a victory that is solely your own. You do not share the proverbial crown of ivy leaves (if you get one) with a triumvirate of team mates. It is yours alone.