Monday, January 4, 2010

Why run a marathon?

I was firmly convinced I would never do another full marathon. My first experience was, let's just say, something less than positive.

It's actually Ruth's fault that I'm a runner at all. I arrived late to the party, not having started running until I was over 40. After making a few forays into running short distances, she suggested we train and run a half marathon together. In a slightly irrational moment, I agreed, and trained, and some months later we did run a half marathon together in San Diego. I was totally pumped after that and continued to train and ran several more half marathons. So, a full marathon was the next logical step, right? I set my sights on the Jan 2004 Miami marathon.

I trained on my own - and found that I am simply not interesting enough to entertain myself for 20+ mile training runs. I was very slow then, running 12-13 min miles, and those long runs were tortuous. They took forever and and I would struggle mightily for the last few miles and finish completely exhausted. Crosstraining was greatly reduced in my need to recover from the long runs. In retrospect I can see that I was simply not ready, I didn't have sufficient running base established. But, in my single-minded way, I pushed on and ran that Miami marathon - alone. I struggled through those last few miles, knees hurting, walking half of the time, just trying to finish. When I finally crossed that finish line after five and a half hours, I tried to feel that race exhiliration, but all I felt was relief that I could finally stop. I was glad that I finished, but had NO desire whatsoever to do it again.

I ran a few more shorter races after that, but the joy in running had somehow slipped away. Then came several devastating hurricane seasons, new job responsibilities with lots of travel, and busy life in general. I stopped running altogether, got out of the workout habit, ate way too much, and of course, the pounds crept on. I woke up in January of 2007 realizing that I was completely out of shape and weighed more than I did when I was 9 months pregnant! So I made the decision to get in shape and lose weight, this time for good. I started walking, then walk/jogging, and finally running. I went to the gym faithfully and watched my diet, and by the end of 2007 had lost 40 pounds and was in training for another half marathon in Ft. Lauderdale. I lucked into a wonderful small, informal running group and continued training and racing in earnest. And somewhere in there, I rediscovered the joy in running. I was content.

It's now two years and more than a half dozen half marathons later. I have friends training for marathons all around me. Although vocal in my intent never to run a FULL marathon again, I began to privately wonder - could I do it? As my friends have ramped up their long run mileage in preparation for the Disney weekend, I ramped mine up too, just to see how it felt. 16 miles, 18 miles, then 20 miles. Suprisingly, I felt - pretty darned good. Yes, the long runs are tiring, yes my legs were a little sore, but I wasn't exhausted. I'm just stronger now. So, maybe, just maybe, this full marathon thing isn't as much of stretch anymore.

So here we are, training and blogging. This year I want to stay strong, continue pushing my limits, and keep it fun. And fitting into those skinny jeans doesn't suck either ....

1 comment:

  1. Outstanding account of your run habits. Fun to read as well. I'm now one of your Blogger fans.