5.03.2012

To Marathon or Not to Marathon...

The question of whether to start looking into training for a marathon has been on my mind recently with two 13.1's under my belt and two more in the pipeline before the end of the year.  The idea of Eugene this time next year is terribly tempting.  Reading all these fabulous runner blogs/tweets/status updates hasn't helped my inner dialogue; it's hard not to want to get in on all of the action.  It reminds me of those blissfully ignorant days before we had kids and we were watching friends cross that finish line into parenthood - it was juuuust the thing to get us 'off the fence' and get on board with starting a family.  But, in this scenario, I'm kinda gravitating toward being child-less marathon-less... 

Mainly because it's hard to find the time to fit that kind of mileage in with two small kids and I'm no spring chicken.  I'm icing a sore hip from just a 7 mile run the other day as I type this.  I lost a toenail after my second 13.1 and I'm not sure if I'll ever find it again.  I can't imagine being sidelined with an injury for an extended period of time - God forbid, for GOOD from running.  Even if all went well, the recovery time seems so long.  Oiselle team member Meggie wrote a great post on "putting your eggs all in one basket" - what if I put in all that time and training and then get some ridiculous illness from the kids or there's record breaking heat on the day of the big event?   Dimity's post on not wanting to run Boston also resonated with me.  If I DID marathon, it'd probably be one and done, and my type-A/goal oriented mind doesn't see the point in that at all.   

These are certainly no excuses, though, because there are plenty of women my age, with kids my age rocking 26.2.  THIS WOMAN can puts us all to shame.  It seems you can't throw a stone in without hitting a marathoner these days (not suggesting one should do this in the literal sense).  And I guess that's the point, EVERYONE'S doing it!  I should DO IT!  But, wait, why? 

If I truly asked myself WHY I'd want to run a marathon, well I suppose it would be to brag say that I accomplished one and to feel like a 'REAL' runner; to become part of the 'club' and commiserate on the experience - kinda like sharing birth stories.  (Methinks there are many parallels that can be drawn between having kids and running a marathon.)  AM I a runner if I don't ever run a marathon? 

After I ran my first 13.1, I straight out asked my rockstar marathoner friend if I could call myself a runner now, 'cuz I'm still an 8+ mph runner.  I think she thought I'd lost a few marbles.  She confirmed for me that, duh, of course I am.  This article from Competitor (via Mile Posts) was a reaffirming read: 

"I never would have had the drive to keep going had my friends not celebrated my victories along the way. If I ran a 5K, my friends who have finished Ironman triathlons could have laughed and said, “Aww, 3.1 miles. That’s so cute.” But they didn’t. Instead, I got high fives and genuine empathy when I shared how HARD those 3.1 miles felt.
My friends never tried to one-up me and tell me I didn’t know pain until I tried to run 13.1, 26.2, or 50 miles. They didn’t compare my 10-minute miles to their own 7:30 splits. They simply celebrated my accomplishment with me. I was suddenly a part of this community of athletes, and that felt incredible.
That camaraderie – that’s what it means to be a runner."


I'm curious if anyone else has found themselves in this spot as a runner?  Should I, shouldn't I?  Argh.  Maybe I'll think about it in two years when I turn forty and I'll be mature enough then to make a decision about it.  It would be cool to run my first marathon at age forty.... hmmm.

  

10 comments:

  1. Yep, I was there. and I did one thing worse. I was extremely cocky and stepped to the line of a marathon two years ago, completely unprepared. 7 miles in, wearing new shoes, already feeling knee pain, I gave up. It was a stupid move to just assume that because I was a decent half marathoner and because I ran one 20 mile run that I could just go out and run a marathon. Because of that stupid experience and because I truly want to push myself to complete one (and felt like the time was right 20 weeks ago) I'm giving my first REAL effort this weekend and I'm going to try to BQ. I'm not sure if I'll actually run Boston, I may be a one and done, but I want the option. It's a personal decision for sure.

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    1. that explains A LOT about your recent tweets/etc. about marathon jitters. Based on the glimpses I've got from how your training is going, I think you'll nail that BQ! also, even if it's one and done 'having the option' to do another one is good food for thought..

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  2. I always say if you heart is in it, go for it, but to run a marathon just to run one... sometimes that makes it "feel" worse... ya know?

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    1. yeah, that's why I think I may table the decision for another year or two, when my heart might be in a different place - thanks for your feedback :)

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  3. Here's my take - marathons are hard. IIt is rewarding when you finish and I love the process of training for a big goal, like a marathon. However, like you said, marathons are a big ask of your body and mind. I'd only do it if you want to do it. There is plenty of fun in training for 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, etc. Plenty of PRs to to be set there, too.

    Here is my suggestion: Pick a marathon/half weekend that has both options. Start training for the marathon and see how it goes. Go into the training not having your heart set on the marathon, but, at the same time, using it to motivate you. Maybe it will motivate you to higher volumes, longer tempos, something like that. Then, if something starts to flare up or you're just not feeling it, jump down to the half.

    Some people can do marathons month after month, year after year -- they can tolerate all of that volume. I don't think I can, yet, which is why I think I need to back off the marathons for a bit.

    I think the weekend warrior clan is a bit to obsessed with the marathon. There is the lure of testing yourself at the distance and, of course, the lure of qualifying for Boston. But, I don't know, the marathon isn't for everyone -- which is why I'm starting a 5K revolution. Join me.

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    1. I LOVED your post on the 5K revolution! haha. Although, I kinda hate the first 3 miles of any run - including 5Ks :) I discovered my love of running by going longer distances. I've certainly joined the 13.1 revolution that's been going around. Or maybe I'll start the 10K revolution.
      Anyway, thank you for your thoughtful response - so much good food for thought, like picking one that also has a half! Why didn't I think of that.. this is what happens to your brain on 'kids.' :)

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  4. I struggled with this and decided to do it for my 30th birthday in 2010. I ran Chicago - hot and a really rough one for me. It was my second marathon registration that became the big question after that, but I did it. I'm signed up and training for Seattle RnR on June 23. It took me until after a few half marathons to decide, so maybe you will feel clear around the end of this year. I based it on the fact that I felt like I could keep going at the end of the half and wanted to give it a try!

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    1. Thank you for weighing in, I think you're absolutely right. I'm gonna revisit the idea at the end of the year, after I do the Seattle half in November. Love that your marathons are in my two favorite cities, a girl after my own heart!

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  5. Is it weird to say that I feel a special bond between us because of running even though we've known each other for YEARS before (I started) running??? The step from half-marathoner to full is a huge one and takes commitment. Duh, you already know that ;-) I stumbled upon distance running merely by accident. I "ran" the Shamrock Shuffle in 2004 (came in almost dead last!) before signing up for Chicago 2007. I didn't love it right away. It honestly took me another 2 marathons (Chi 2008 & 2010) before it clicked and I learned that this sport was so important to me. I guess what I'm saying is things don't change overnight. But I can tell that you are a distance lover and will embrace 26.2 :) It may not happen on your 1st or even 2nd try, but it will happen. Best of luck and all my love to you & the family!

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    1. Sooo not weird! It's been so fun and inspiring watching your running 'career' take off. What's weird is that I was following you for like a year on Twitter and you had no idea, haha! Love ya and thanks for the the encouragement you've given me on this crazy running journey. Oh, and thanks for the RT :)

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