Marathon Journey: Day 8

Yesterday we talked celebrity times.

I’ve been sort of hesitating looking up my own time from a marathon about 10 years ago. Partly because I feel like it’ll make me feel old, partly because I don’t want to write a post that sounds braggy. Because how do you write about a race time without sounding like an asshole? You can say you thought it was a good time, and then it’s like, “Another asshole writing about his marathon time” or you can say it’s average and it’s like, “Whatever, humblebrag.”

But then I figured fuck it. Anyone who’s actually reading these posts knows me, and they know that I don’t think I’m some better person because I ran a marathon like 10 years ago. Also, I was talking about celebrity times, so it’s only fair.

So I looked it up. I was pretty sure I knew, and I was correct. Sort of.

I was 21, so I  was almost 13 years younger! That part I was incorrect about. And I ran a 3:25:16.

The thing I remember most is finishing and feeling like it was kind of a letdown. Not because the time was bad, but…

Well, what happened was that I’d trained really hard. And stupid. I did more than a couple 22-mile training runs, totally without water. I remember finishing one, in the dark, with a couple laps around a nearby park. I remember having a really strong craving for this sports drink (Cytomax?), I had in the fridge. And I remember thinking that I could just take about 4 more laps around this particular park and have completed a marathon distance. Why even go to the race?

It was really weird to be so close to reaching the goal but not quite there. And I think, although I was tired, I felt like the four more miles was pretty do-able. So there wasn’t much mystery or anything on the day of the marathon. In fact, I mostly felt like, “Let’s get this over with.”

Maybe because I prided myself on being a distance runner, and a marathon is sort of the thing distance runners do. It’s a rite of passage, I guess, or a very recognizable thing for people outside the sport. But I didn’t necessarily feel like it was something I WANTED to do, not by race day, anyway. It was something that I was very confident I’d be able to do, and it was something that, as a distance runner, one simply does.

Which is why I have to think about how this time is going to be different.

I want to, perverse as it sounds, have a good time. I want to be excited at the start of the race, and to feel ready to go. Not to get it over with, but like I’m having a bit of an adventure, perhaps. Or, I don’t know, that there’s something a little more fun about it. I’m seriously considering whether it’d be possible to get myself a tallboy to enjoy over the last mile.

The training is different too. It’s been…well, since 2006 or so since I had a serious running goal. People will ask you that all the time, what’s your fitness goal. I never really had any. Other than not being an insane asshole all the time, which is what I feel like when I haven’t exercised quite enough. I gather this is a family trait.

It’s nice to have a goal.

And it’s nice to have a set schedule that I don’t have to invent. It’s weird, when you stop training for something specific, a distance or something, you have to make your own regimen. Which I did pretty well for a while, but I got tired of doing it. Sometimes, rather than planning everything yourself, it’s nice to have things laid out for you.

It sounds bizarre in a way, to say that it’s a lot easier to have the runs laid out. I mean, I still have to do the running part. But it’s the truth.

I’m already doing some stuff for my longer runs. Trying to save my favorite podcasts for my weekly long runs, saving albums by bands I like for those too. I mean, they’ll be 3+ hour affairs before long. Plenty of time for a podcast I like, a new album, another podcast I like, maybe one that’s so-so…

I DO really wish I could go out on my long runs and there were just arrows chalked on the ground telling me where to go. Whenever I go for a run and there’s a course set like that, I follow it. It’s more fun. And I don’t have to think about it. I always assume it’s about 5K, and I’m always right. And when the course is just there, you show up, run it, and when it’s over, you’re done.

Anyway, there you go. A scattered blog today, but so be it. There’s a lot going on with this whole thing.