To Marathon or Not…

I’ve been a runner since high school, but all those many years ago, I was a sprinter. One mile was my longest distance ever. And I hated it. Maybe it was because I had to do it around a track, which classifies as low-level torture in my book, but nonetheless, when I ran my first 5K, I was ecstatic. I ran more than two miles…in a row…on purpose. And I got a free gigantic cotton shirt!

The first time my husband signed up for a half, soon after we had our first baby, I remember telling him, “Why would you want to do that?” (haha!) The longest I had run at that point was a couple of 10-milers, and I enjoyed that distance. Fast forward a few years…staring down the barrel of 40 years old, I had just been diagnosed with rare type of blood cancer. With my health still good and the cancer very slow-growing, I thought, who knows what the future holds? Why not run while I still can??

A college friend signed up for a half and I thought it would be fun to run with her and a good excuse to see her. She ended up not running the race, but I ran it. And, after I crossed the finish line, I just kept thinking, I bet I can run it faster. Maybe it’s the sprinter in me, but I like to go fast. I’m not fast, I just like to imagine it. 🙂

After a few halfs, the question EVERYONE would ask was, “Will you run a marath–?” Before they could even finish the word, I would say no. Non. Nein. Nyet. Never. No way.

Here’s why:

  • Training for a marathon is looooooong. And time consuming.
  • Running a race for 4+ hours is mind-numbing and sickening.
  • One word: Chafing.
  • Two words: Black toenails.
  • Gels=blech.

And, finally, many friends who ran marathons to get in shape ended up the exact same weight as before or even heavier (now I know why). I was stubbornly trying to get rid of the five-ish mid-life post-baby pounds that were clinging for dear life around my waistline.

Then, with a couple more halfs under my belt and feeling like I had gotten a good grasp of the distance, the marathon questions still came. I couldn’t kick this perception of that “half finished” mentality people like to joke about. I don’t do things halfway…hahaha. Half crazy, etc. Except I’m not half crazy. I am full-on crazy. Just ask my husband. 🙂

I signed up for the 2,015 mileage challenge last year, and about a month into it I thought, well, I’m running so many freaking miles, maybe I should put these miles toward something, right? For Declare It Day 2015, my running friends gathered around cups of coffee after a chilly Saturday run and wrote down what our goals were for the year. Palms sweaty. Heart beating in my ears. I wrote down my goal.

I will run a marathon.

Gulp. So, I signed up for the Chevron Houston Marathon for January 2016. I really wanted my husband and kids to see my first marathon, but, because the logistics of staying with a husband and three kids in a hotel room in Houston would not be….ideal for me or my pre-race jitters. So, I signed up for our hometown BCS Marathon for December 2015 so they could cheer me on. I trained. I worried. I had black toenails. I chafed. And this was only during training.

And then, on a rainy, windy 50 degree day in December, I ran it. And I actually had fun. My husband and kids cheered for me every 4 miles in the cold rain. They high-fived, they waved, they held signs as they almost blew away. I cracked jokes. I people watched. I laughed. I choked down gels.

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And then I did it again.

Here’s 5 reasons why I’ll do it again this year:

  • Marathon training is long and challenges me in ways I never dreamed and ways I really enjoyed.
  • Running a marathon was exhilarating, exciting, joyous, painful, difficult and incredible. The experience strengthened my faith in God. Period.
  • One word: Vaseline.
  • Two words: nail polish.
  • Gels= I made friends with the chocolate Huma.

And then people asked when I would do an ultra. ugh.

Linking up with the Friday Five with MarCourtney and Cynthia. Thanks for hosting, ladies!

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Author: Embrace the Journeys

Hi! I'm Sonia--a runner, wife, mother and writer chronicling this journey. 26.2 x 3 - 13.1 x 12.

18 thoughts on “To Marathon or Not…”

  1. I felt exactly the same way you did. I never had any desire to even run a half marathon let alone a full marathon yet during mile 10 of the full marathon I knew I wanted to do it again! The second marathon I did wasn’t quite as fun. I don’t know if it was the course or perhaps because the newness had worn off and I knew what to expect. Congrats to you on your marathon! They certainly are addictive. Will there be another one in your future?

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  2. I love this post. Isn’t it amazing how crossing that finish line of a marathon makes you want to run more? My running plan was to run one half marathon (my daughter asked me and you don’t turn down your only child) and now I am running marathons every year, usually two. In just two weeks I will be running the London Marathon as my third major and hope to complete them all before I turn 65.

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  3. I am doing 2 in one year, then we will see. I loved the experience but it did take up a huge part of my life, so I am not sure I am ready to do a 3rd one in a row (Paris 2017). We will see after NY !

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  4. LOL about the last line (the ultra).

    I AM slow. And running for 6 hrs (because it WOULD take me that long, assuming I didn’t manage to injure myself training, which is a very large assumption) really doesn’t sound like fun. My husband would come, but he wouldn’t be meeting me every 4 miles, either.

    Sometimes I think maybe, maybe if I could just get a little faster . . . but being in my 50s — kind of daunting to wish that.

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    1. I used to feel the same way (not fun!) and on a given day in training sometimes I still do. It’s all about desire and perspective, right? I know people who walk an entire marathon because they can no longer run and they do it in the course time limit. We can and should do the distances we each enjoy!

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  5. I signed up for a marathon because i figured I would never be in that kind of shape again, and then I fell in love–I personally LOVE the training–I love the excuse and reason to run more! Make sure you find a coach or a plan that you are comfortable with and will help you accommodate your schedule! Good luck!

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  6. I love your marathon story! Congratulations to you for not only conquering the marathon, but also beating cancer. It sounds so scary to even type that I will run a marathon, but I totally agree with you – I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing only half of something – I suspect we have the same philosophy on this 🙂

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  7. I’m struggling with this question right now too. I started running just a couple years ago and I’ve got three halfs under my belt now with a couple more to come this year. I’m trying to decide whether I want to do a full because I’m 40 next year and it’s a nice milestone year to do it if I decide to go for it. And once that decision is made comes the decision of exactly which full to go for.

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