In telling people about my marathon plans, the question I have most often gotten is why?, as in, “Why on earth would you want to run a marathon? You don’t even like running!” I've gotten this “why?” question so often that it’s actually gotten me asking myself that very same thing. So I thought I’d take the opportunity in this last week before the training starts, to sit down and see if I can actually convey the answer to those who ask and to myself: Why AM I running a marathon?
(If you want the short answer, just skip down to the last line. If you've got a few minutes and are interested in how I got to that answer, read on.)
Let’s back up. I was never a runner growing up. In fact, I HATED running! I dreaded the Presidential Physical Fitness Test and its 1-mile run for months every year leading up to it, sure that attempting to run it would make me physically ill and knowing that I would finish dead last. I was a ballerina (pretty hard to believe for those of you who didn’t know me then) not a runner! My complete disdain for running continued all through high school and college, and even a few years beyond. I was always active but avoided all activities that included (or could potentially include) running.
Fast forward a few years. I met Deb and we set off on a whirlwind of adventures that would carry us through to this very day and our latest adventure of running the Lake Placid Marathon. Somehow—I honestly have no idea how—Deb convinced me to start running with her and she got me to sign up for my first 5K. Once I did it, I latched right onto the idea of the free t-shirt and continued to run 5Ks and even a couple of 10Ks purely for the t-shirts. Eventually the lure of the free t-shirt lost its luster and I stopped entering races for a while… but didn’t actually stop running. Huh. Why would I run if not for the free shirt?
A few years later, with my 30th and Deb’s 40th birthdays imminent, we decided to tackle a half marathon to commemorate this decade-changing year for both of us. We trained for and ran the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon. I think we both had it in the back of our minds that since we did a half marathon to commemorate 30 and 40, it would only make sense to do a full marathon 10 years later to mark 40 and 50. That’s a pretty safe thought to have with it still 10 years out!
The years passed, Deb and I continued to run together off and on, doing a 15K each July and trying to generally stay in shape. I took a couple of years off to have babies, but then slowly got back to running. The marathon may have been vaguely alluded to at times, but it was never really talked about or planned…it was always just there in the back of our minds.
Then, Deb got caught up in marathon fever at the Boston Marathon Expo the day before the 2012 Boston Marathon (she was there to watch a friend run it), and sent me a crazy text saying we should run another half marathon—the Providence Rock ‘N Roll Half that September. Early registration ended that day, so we acted fast (too fast perhaps) and signed up! In training for that half, I came face to face with the reality of the time commitment it took to properly train for a half, and decided that I couldn't actually train for a full marathon at this stage in my life. I let Deb know that and then put any and all 40th birthday marathon ideas out of my head.
Skip ahead to this past November. Deb went ahead and registered for the Lake Placid Marathon! She was following through and running a full marathon to mark the turning of another decade. She chose Lake Placid because the date was close to her birthday and because Lake Placid has been our stomping grounds over the last 15 years of hiking the High Peaks together. I was super excited for her and planned to be the best spectator any runner had ever seen!
But wait a minute—could I really spectate and not participate? Could I really pass up this chance to run a marathon in celebration of my 40th birthday? I knew that if I didn't run this marathon for this reason with Deb, I would most likely never run a marathon. This was my chance, my one chance, as I saw it. Suddenly, the call of the marathon got louder and the pull got stronger, and I couldn't get the thought of it out of my mind. My husband assured me that he was completely supportive and on board if this was what I wanted to do. I agonized over the decision for a few weeks, even dragging Deb and my kids up to Lake Placid to drive the course so I could see it for myself. I knew it was going to be a hilly one and I had to see those hills for myself—maybe it wouldn't be as bad as I was imagining. It was. Maybe even worse than I had imagined.
But then, given the severely stubborn will that has been the driving force behind the initiation and completion of the majority of my life’s adventures, and the competitive spirit that just couldn't let Deb do this without me, I registered for a marathon!
So, to sum it all up: I am running a marathon because I’m just stubborn enough to do it, and because Deb is also. And for me, that’s reason enough!
Training starts Monday!