Friday, September 23, 2011

Why I'm Running New 2012

Oh yeah, don't you just want to join them?  Source

When I started my blog last year, I was all about running a marathon.  One marathon in particular - the New York Marathon.  But by the time I decided that I wanted to run a marathon, I was way past the lottery deadline, which obviously meant that unless my name was Kara Groucher or Heidi Klum, no one was letting me enter the race.
My name isn't Paula Radcliffe either.  Source

Well, actually, that's not entirely true.  I could have entered the race through a charity spot, but I would have had to front two-thousand dollars because they had fund-raising deadlines, and the $2K mark was about a minute after I decided I wanted to run the marathon.  Resigned, I decided that even though I couldn't run New York, I would run something else, and picked a Team in Training Race, the San Francisco Half Marathon.

But then it turned out that I'm lousy about asking people for money.  I just couldn't do it.  Not because I don't believe in the Team in Training's cause at all.  I do.  I respect their cause.  How can you not respect a charity's cause though, unless it's like "Save the keg at the frat party" or "Eliminate all taxes to stimulate the economy"?

Maybe I should have put up a billboard in Times Square?

It felt strange to champion a cause that didn't feel personal to me.  I mean everyone wants a cure for cancer, but  for me, things like heart disease, poverty, women's rights, and education about nutrition tug more at my heart strings that TNT's mission.  The truth is, I felt like my fundraising mission, should have been renamed, "Help Amanda Run a Marathon."

So I switched to a marathon that didn't have any barriers to entry, aside from a little entrance fee.  Talk about commitment problems?

I love, love, love running next to the water.

For the remainder of the summer, I trained hard for the Philadelphia Marathon instead, all the while working on qualifying for New York with their 9+1 program.  That summer and fall, I really fell in love with the marathon training.   I also fell in love with my city as I got to see her in a way I had never thought possible.

The Intrepid Air & Museum, never been in it but all those planes look cool.

A quiet, cool, fall morning.

When the marathon finally arrived, I was welcomed to Philly by friends and accompanied by an awesome cheerleading squad.  Without the support of my friends and family, I'm not sure I would have even finished my marathon.  The race was hard, and though I had trained for it, and expected it, there was something missing from it all.  Looking back, I can see, while I wanted to run a marathon, more than that I wanted to run one very specific marathon and that one's not in Philadelphia.

My Cheer Squad - the BEST part of the Philly Marathon!

After the marathon, I muddled around finishing up my qualifications for the 9+1 program, half-heartedly running, eating lots of cheeseburgers and drinking all the wine that my training program didn't allow.  I had qualified for the New York Marathon and was eligible to run it in 2011, and though I signed up for it, I couldn't muster up an ounce of enthusiasm.

Beers after a spring race, cause that's how I recover.

I ran a few races that spring, enjoying the shorter distances and the freedom those distances allowed in my social life.  The specter of NY hung over my head through the winter, spring and into the summer.  I had signed up so as to not lose my qualification, but though I no longer babbled about my running like I had the previous summer, I couldn't admit defeat.

I went to Barcelona instead of training for NYC.

Cause that's what it felt like.  After all the blog jibber-jabber about running New York, I felt like I had to run it in 2011.  What can I say?  I've always had a problem with doing what I should be doing as opposed to what I want to do.

Finally, about three weeks ago, when the longest run I had run in several months was seven miles, I had to concede that my training was not going to be sufficient to allow me to run the marathon.

I was watching baseball with my "buds" instead of running.  Ooops!

And so I deferred.

Yep, I threw all those self-imposed restrictions out the door.

As soon as I was free of the pressure to run the marathon, I got back on the computer and started blogging like a mad-woman again.  I started reading lots of running blogs once again, searching out new blogs about running which I had previously avoided post Philly because they made me feel like a loser for not wanting to run a marathon.  I bought a new pair of shoes which I hadn't done since March.  I made a plan to run the Detroit  half-marathon and did my first long run on the West Side Highway of the summer.  I downloaded new music just for a run.

Once upon a time boats used to actually use these piers.

Then I logged another long run, and another one, and another one.  And suddenly I remembered, how much I loved training for the marathon and how much I wanted to run New York.

Just like that, I was back on the marathon train.

Running is such a conflicted beast.  On one hand, there is the satisfaction of achieving a new distance or new PR, but on the other hand there are the physical limits of the body.  And yet, the body wants to run even when it's limping, aching, and depleted.  And the mind, oh the mind, it wants to continue to feel the high that can come only from sheer exhaustion at the end of another great run.

Looking back, I can see that a huge reason the Philly marathon was such a struggle for me was that I had over-trained for it by not taking a break from running for over a year.  By the time, I got to the race, my gas tank had a gigantic hole in it.

yeah, i just needed a break.

After my first marathon, my lack of enthusiasm and energy, which masqueraded as severe disappointment, was my own body's way of telling me to take it easy.  I needed time to heal.

Almost a year later, the scars are almost gone.  My hips no longer constantly ache, and my body, though carrying around a few more pounds, doesn't feel like its been beaten up anymore.

But it's my heart that feels the most changed because when as I write this story and see all those running pictures, it starts beating a little faster, and a smile that I can't stop comes to my face.  And just like, the fire is back.  2012 here I come.


  1. Great post :) I've noticed that everyone recovers from marathons differently. Some bounce right back and run another one in a month, and others take a good couple months to even feel ok again. Running NYC would be no fun if you weren't excited about it! You made a great decision and have a whole year + to get jazzed for 2012!

  2. Yep, it took me a long time to figure that out for myself and reading about others experiences really helped me see that. I think I wish I was one of those people who can run multiple marathons in a year, but I just had to accept that I'm not one of them.

  3. I totally understand this. Though I have yet to actually complete a marathon, I can understand all of these emotions. And I think waiting til 2012 will definitely give your time to get realllyy excited :)