Some running friends and I were having a twitter discussion today about deciding when you’re ready to train for and run a full marathon. I think our conclusion was that running a full marathon defies all logic (in other words, you need to be a little crazy to do it). But I thought the topic was worth a bit more thought.
I was never someone who had “finishing a marathon” as one of my bucket-list items. I remember a discussion with my husband (who might have been a boyfriend at the time – this was more than a decade ago) about the NYC Marathon. We lived in NYC near Central Park so the marathon was truly a neighborhood event. He felt that the NYC Marathon was something he’d like to do some day. I told him he was crazy. There is no need to run 26.2 consecutive miles. Never say never, right?
It’s a little surprising to me now that it took me so long to discover running. While those who knew me in my early 30’s might be surprised to hear it, I was a life-long athlete. I started as a gymnast and competed in my first meet by my 7th birthday. My final gymnastics meet was during my freshman year of college when I realized that my injuries would allow me to stay at my current level – if I was lucky – and certainly prevent any further improvement. I graduated high school with 9 varsity letters: 4 in gymnastics where I qualified for the Counties every year, 3 in soccer where I won the Coach’s award my senior year, and 2 in lacrosse. I also raced sailboats and won Girls’ Champs of Long Island Sound at age 16. I did some competitive diving and tennis, although I was only passable at both.
It’s surprising that after I graduated college, I did little in the way of athletics. (I continued to race sailboats throughout college and contemplated attempting an Olympic Campaign in sailing – which I might not have been good enough to do – but decided to go to medical school instead.). In medical school my best friend and I would occasionally go to the gym to ride stationary bikes but at such a low intensity as to be laughable. During residency I made a few attempts to start running. Even without Jeff Galloway’s guidance I instinctively did some run/walk intervals. Just as I would start gaining consistency, I would have to stop (usually because of pregnancy – my first child is an IVF baby so I was more restricted in activity due to the effects of the medications).
And yet here I am. A marathoner. So where’s the logic?
As I’ve written before, the thing that got me to stick with running was paying a registration fee for a RACE. For me that race was the WDW Half Marathon. There was no way I wasn’t going to finish a race I had paid money to enter. The crazy thing about Marathon Weekend at Disney is that there are runners finishing a 5K, Half, Full, Half and Full, and all 3. As proud as I was (and am) of my half marathon medal, I couldn’t help but see the medals for the longer distances. I am a naturally competitive person (mostly with myself – gymnastics is really you against you) and immediately coveted a Mickey and Goofy medal.
Logic should have told me to stick with my half marathon. I work full-time + and have 3 young children. But my heart demanded a Mickey medal and so I came to be a marathoner. In only a few more weeks I will be starting my training for something even crazier – the Goofy. And there’s no logic to explain why I think I need to do this but, barring disaster, I suspect I’ll add 3 precious medals to my collection in January!