I feel like coming off a big week of marathon racing (Looking at you Chicago and Boston) There are about to be a ton of people commiting to one of the milestones that only 1% of people actually attack: A literal marathon (26.2 longggggg miles)
Even though there are race that go beyond the marathon, I feel most recreational runners focus on the marathon being the gold standard of distances, the accumulation of all the hard work, and the only thing that will “make them a real runner.” Even though we already know if you run you are a real runner, I can fully understand where people get caught up in the idea of a marathon being THE thing to do. Just look at all the badass elite runners this past week--it's hard not to get wrapped up.
I decided shortly after my half marathon to do a full marathon. I said it at the finish half jokingly just to mess with my dad but truth be told I already had contemplated it before even crossing the finish line. My half marathon was on a course that looped to make it a full and for a brief moment I wanted to blow past the finish line and go again. Besides the fact I hadn’t signed up for the full, I also had zero fuel left and didn’t train to run 26.2 miles so I decided it was best to just stop at the half. A few weeks after my half is when I signed up for the lottery for the 2020 NYC Marathon and well….we all know what happened THERE. But it didn’t dim my resolve to still do a marathon.
The detour in plans though did make me start consider my “Why?”. Why do I actually want to run a marathon?
I think like most people the allure of being able to call yourself a marathoner is thrilling. To be able to tell people “Oh, yea I’ve ran a marathon.” is pretty special. But to get yourself through the training alone it takes a lot more than the pride factor. To get through the actual race is going to take everything you imagine plus 50% more.
Now that I am in the thick of training I can honestly say I was only half prepared for the physical and mental toll it takes. The shiny idea of running that far has lost it's luster, the slight dread has sunk in and a lot of life has happened in between the initial decision to tackel the distance. It's been 2 years, dealing with a toddler, being in a pandemic, having Covid and countless other ups and down. I am still fully commitmed to the decision and have big goals that may or may not happen . But I am here to say that in my opinion, being caught up in the allure is not enough to keep you going.
You can't romantazie the distance. It's fine to have a crush on it but if you are going to have the gumpsha and actually do it you need to dig deep and really think of why/how you are going to toe that line.
This isn’t to say you have to have all of those whys or answers when you sign up. Plenty of reasons are valid to sign up with, but when it comes to crunch time and you are tired, bored, achey and over all of the time your spending on the ”hobby” you will hit the point of having to evaluate what thoughts are going to keep you going when that alarm clock goes off at 4am and the last thing you want to do is go run 14 miles before the day is even started.
I’m not doing it for bragging rights, a shiny medal or to prove that I belong in the running world.
I’m totally doing it for the race shirt and free banana 😉 JK but I wouldn’t say no to a donut at the end....
I’m choosing to toe the line to do something I never thought was possible. To prove to myself that I can set a BIG goal and succeed, even if it’s not perfect or easy. I want to show my daughter that even though you may struggle and want to quit you can find reasons to keep going. I want to do it because I know I can make it the distance....I just want to give myself the opportunity to do it.
Because whatever happens on race day I am already proud of the resilience to even get to this point. Pushing away the self doubt and letting myself dream bigger than I have before. With big goals on and off the road, it’s time to get running.