I remember the first time I learned what a marathon was. It was 1st grade, and we had a lovely young male substitute teacher come in one day which was a nice change from my regular boring, old, meanlady teacher. And he was no ordinary substitute either. This guy, in addition to his dynamic and influential career as a NYC public school substitute, was also Mr. Marathon, or so he had us believe. That day I learned that he ran both New York and Boston and that a marathon was 26 miles. Being a kid and all my only frame of reference for that was nothing, but it sounded spectacular anyway. Superhuman even. And maybe it was also that he was kinda cute in a grown-up kinda way, but I mentally added “run a marathon” to my bucket list that day, which at the time also included becoming a pop-star a la Debbie Gibson, convincing my mom to let me perm my hair and mastering the box-stitch on my hot-pink and purple lanyard.
Flash forward to the 30-year old me, having not only signed up to run my first marathon but also set out to qualify for Boston. The youngest of my kids was 18 months old, I still ran with him in the stroller half the time, and I had never run more than 12 miles. I’m pretty sure my husband didn’t hear me when I told him I thought I could BQ. Or he thought I was joking. And if I were to be honest with myself at the time, I’d say I had no clue if I could actually do it, but I had a solid handful of good races – albeit 5 & 10ks – under my belt as well as a stubborn refusal to even consider the possibility that I couldn’t. The allure of the marathon was strong and I was under its spell.
And now with 3 of them behind me, including the beloved Boston but not yet New York, I feel the distance pulling me in more than I was prepared for. I told myself prior to Boston that since I did not get picked for New York I would skip a fall marathon altogether, focus on shorter distances, and hopefully gain speed and strength. And I really do still want to do all of that. My tendonitis is almost a distant memory (“almost” because I felt a hint of it at mile 23 but not significantly), running feels great, and shorter faster miles are fun. But that 26.2 is magnetic. It calls to me, seriously. It has the power to reel me in and rip apart my body, mind, and spirit before rebuilding them all in stronger form, and then spitting out a newer, upgraded, more resilient version of me. How can I say no to that?
And the truth is, I was pretty sad about not getting into New York. The day of the lottery I refreshed my screen on the NYRR website several times an hour until finally, while putting the kids to bed, I saw the “sorry” message. I minimized the disappointment by saying I was happy not to spend the money right now and then shortly afterwards, I created this blog. So it had an impact on me. And now with Boston being over I am
trying to stop myself from considering signing up for a fall marathon, perhaps Philadelphia?
On my race calendar at this point I have a 10k on Mothers Day, 10k in mid June and the Newport Liberty half marathon in September. That late November date is calling my name ESPECIALLY because of the promise of cooler weather than Boston had Monday! Plus I am maybe looking for a better chance at a faster time, and, depending on how training goes, a possible PR? Yes I like to shoot big BUT I really do want to think this one through a little before giving in to temptation. Like for 5 minutes. Or 10. Or maybe I’ll wait until my husband gets home from work and see what he thinks…
Anyone have thoughts on the marathon distance? Love it, hate it, both? Do you tend to stick to one marathon a year or target 2 or more? Do you know your training limits? Do you ever have a hard time turning down challenges?