Many of my posts in recent months have been training logs, race recaps, or exciting announcements. While I love sharing those posts, I had the urge this week to stop and reflect on my first marathon experience and the marathon distance in general.
I was inspired to write this post after my long run on Monday. While I should have run it on Saturday, the weekend got away from me. I was scheduled to run 12 miles but was having one of those days (perfect weather, views, playlist) when 13.1 felt more appropriate. While I’ve become a much stronger athlete since I started running two years ago, I still get nervous before every long run. The nerves show up about 48 hours before the run, even if I ate, slept, hydrated, and dressed well to prepare. After running four half marathons, one 200-mile team relay, and one full marathon, it’s fair to say that the long runs have been successful. But at times, I still can’t believe I trained for and ran a full marathon. I’ve thought a lot about that experience since crossing the finish line in January. Did I enjoy running a marathon? Would I train for another?
In the weeks leading up to my first marathon, I was drinking the Kool-Aid. I briefly thought about changing my Pittsburgh Half Marathon registration in May to the Full Marathon. I’m glad that I didn’t. While I’m so happy I ran Disney, I’m not sure that it was the best first marathon for me. I chose the race 12 weeks out (almost one year ago exactly) because I was about to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon SF and was already half trained. Being somewhat close to the race at registration helped me mentally but did have its challenges. To name a few: I was training for two more months after most fall marathons were over. I was training during the winter and during the holiday season. I was training on a condensed, 12-week schedule. Additionally, I raced in Florida humidity and endured a torrential downpour during my race. I want to pause for a moment and be clear that none of these are excuses. In fact, they make me prouder to have that medal. I was left feeling mentally and physically exhausted after my race, but I’ve decided that I have some unfinished business with the marathon distance. I still want to see how much faster and stronger I can run 26.2 miles. I want to register months before and train for 16 weeks in a familiar climate with my friends.
I’ve been asked by many whether I’m running an upcoming marathon–Chicago, Marine Corps, or New York. At first, I was somewhat jealous that I’m not part of the race excitement. However, that isn’t fair. In my opinion, the marathon is earned during months of training and celebrated on race day. I can’t wish to be part of a celebration that I didn’t work toward. I briefly forgot how much work goes into training. You’re always tired, busy, hungry, and sore. You arrange your schedule around your miles. You wake up early to run before work or before it’s too hot. You spend hours playing mind games to make it through training runs. You do it because you love to run (even when you think you’re starting to hate it). I have so much admiration for my friends who are running a marathon this fall. I cannot wait to watch the New York marathoners on race day and celebrate their hard work.
I can’t promise that a small part of me won’t feel left out on November 1. Two years ago, the New York City Marathon inspired me to register for my first half marathon. I often drive over the Verrazano Bridge to get to my boyfriend’s house. I ran past the finish line area on Monday night. I have unfinished business with the marathon and feel, as a New Yorker, like I need to run the five boroughs. 2016, whether it’s by lottery or charity, you’re mine. I might travel around the country to race from January-October, but my last race of 2016 will be on my home turf.