“The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.” – George Sheehan
I am six days post-marathon at this point, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the marathon experience overall. I’ll tell you that I never went into this thinking it was a one-shot deal. It wasn’t a bucket list, gotta-suffer-through-this-and-say-I-did-it kind of thing. I did it because I adored running and wanted to see what I could do. So this was my initial thought, directly after the race:
And now, a few days later, I feel exactly the same. So, to the question “Will you do another one?” I say, “Absolutely!” Not next week, probably not this year, but yes. I would love to do another one. There was never a moment during the race, even during the miles-long hitting of The Wall that I thought “I hate this.” Rather, it was a drive to complete something that was becoming harder and harder as the time and miles went on.
Now, part of the reason I want to do another one is because no, I am not in the least happy with how long it took. I felt the same way after my first 1/2 in 2010. Although, after that race, I was even more devastated. Running was still fairly new to me, and certainly my love of it was in its infancy. I didn’t understand training, building a base, and I wasn’t sure if I could or would do another one. Now I understand this: Saturday, I ran the race that I trained for. My initial plan had me finishing at 4:28, based on my mileage and my time in the Chicago Monster Dash last fall. And that’s what I wanted. But then I lost a week of training due to an abductor strain. And then another two full (though not consecutive) weeks due to illness. My three 20-milers became one horrible 19.4 miler, and three of my critical long runs–the ones between 8 and 5 weeks out, were done WHILE I was sick. My pace was abysmal. The effort was huge. And part of that whole the-marathon-is-mostly-mental thing should have been, for me, a cue to shelve the time expectation. But OF COURSE it was still there, in a way. And even when I said I was shelving it, I got 4:45 stuck in my head as something I could be happy with. But over 5 hours? No, I’m not happy with it, and I’d like to try again. That said, I’m not beating myself up, either. I had said in the week leading up to the race that if I got this marathon, it was out of sheer stubbornness, and I’d say that’s still accurate.
So, do I have an idea of when I might go for another 26.2? Well, maybe. One of the thing that makes the marathon so Herculean is not the race itself, but the training that leads up to it. It really did eat up my life for 15 weeks. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve always struggled more with depression and anxiety in the winter months, so having this huge thing that I had to do, in bits and pieces, so many days a week, for so many weeks in a row, meant that my mental space was eaten up with the plan to get that done. Then, my body was so worn out that any thing left over in my mind was not capable of keeping it up at night. “Blessed is (s)he who is too busy during the day, and too tired at night, to worry.” AMEN. But, I do have a husband and children that that enjoy me, and I them. Being gone for so long, and having so many things revolve around the training schedule was hard on my husband. With their blessing, and with a fair amount of certainty that I wouldn’t get burnt out, I wouldn’t mind another attempt next spring.
So now, I will say it again: that whatever the future holds for me in terms of more marathons, faster times, or better races, now more than ever, I LOVE running.