I competed in the Wildflower half Ironman in 1995. 1.2M swim, 56M bike, 13.1M run. It just about killed me. I bonked during the run and had to get two IV drips after the race. Granted, I had a decent time (5:45) all things considered, since I walked most of the half marathon, but it was still very humbling and basically I have had no desire to do any competitive racing since. But here I stand almost 20 years later and i am considering a marathon. Why the change of heart? Well, a few things I think. First, I need to drink less. Alcohol that is. Alcohol was a good friend of mine during the most difficult child-rearing years. I would never drink during the day, but after a long day with a 2 and 3 year old I would down a few strong beers to numb myself to the mayhem. Sometimes this paid dividends in that I got a second wind and next thing i knew I was writing a song and being productive, rather than just sleeping or watching TV. But that did not happen too often. So, bottom line is things are now so much easier with the boys and Alcohol is no longer necessary as a numbing agent. So that is reason #1.
Reason #2 is that after so many years of barely hanging in there (while child rearing) I can finally dedicate myself to something that is energy sapping OTHER THAN childcare. Man, we were exhausted for years. Now we get to sleep through the night. Also, Melanie and I used to not be so good at giving the other person time to go on a long run, since we were terrified to be alone with the kids, so we suffered together. No longer. So now I can disappear for 2 hours and the world will not end.
Reason #3 is that I am getting older. I might as well try to get a bit more out of this body before it is too late.
Reason #4 is because I want to eat better, and running will help me do that.
Reason #5 is because I have gotten really good at stretching. I MUST stretch between runs because my body gets tight. I do that now and it helps immensely.
Reason #6 is because it is fun to obsess about something and this is way more fun to obsess about than heroin or politics or Jesus.
Reason #7 is because, about a year and a half ago, I bought a pair of Vibram 5 finger shoes, those funky things that have separate spaces for all 5 toes. I have been trail running on them ever since and they are great. Concurrently, I am reading Born To Run, which focuses a lot on why a more primitive running technique is better (no heel strike!) and it is fun to work on that.
Reason #8 is because i just want to finish a goddamn marathon. It will either be my only one or will lead to a greater obsession. If it leads to a greater obsession I would love to run New York and Chicago and maybe marathons in other cities.
There is only one problem about all this. I hate running on pavement. I love trail running. But most marathons are on pavement. So I will give it a shot. If it sucks I might be relegated to the trail running marathons. Also, I am worried about bonking again. I am a HEAVY SWEATER and the Wildflower experience made me realize how vigilant I need to be in replenishing my fuel reserves. But I really pushed it at the Wildflower. This time my goal is to find a comfortable pace. I have no intention of killing myself.
So the San Luis Obispo Marathon is April 7th. That gives me about 10 weeks to get ready. I am going to keep running for another couple weeks and see how I feel. If I am still gung-ho then I will sign up for it and see what happens. The bottom line is that I am excited for a new challenge. Yay.