The marathon mindset

Better in the long run

When I started running back in 2011, I didn’t really have a goal other than being able to run a few miles at a time, a few times a week. My best friend was doing races like half marathons at that point, but as a new runner they were never a consideration. During the two years of the vicious cycle of slow progress and injury setback, a 5K seemed the only reasonable distance I would ever achieve so I never really considered anything more ambitious. But as my training started to build momentum over this past summer (2014) and I was training for my first 10 mile race, the idea of a longer distance started to percolate in my mind. I found I was really enjoying my long training runs on the weekend and since long runs are meant to be slow, they suited my pace. I was also really enjoying planning my long runs and would plan routes into Manhattan and back to keep them interesting. There was also all this marathon training talk going on at the time. Many of my friends were training for the NYC Marathon, my local running group–North Brooklyn Runners–was abuzz with marathon training chatter as was my online running team–The Sub-30 Club–as runners were preparing for Chicago, NYC, and Philly marathons. I found myself disappointed that I wasn’t able to join in on the even longer runs and the training chatter.

Summer Streets 2014
Running up Fifth Avenue during Summer Streets on my first 7 mile training run.
Bridge Run
On a 9 mile training run for my 10 miler. I planned to cross one bridge into Manhattan, run back to Brooklyn over another, then run back to my neighborhood. Two friends who were training for marathons joined me.
Bridge run - back to Brooklyn
Heading back to Brooklyn on our 9 mile training run. My friends were doing 10 and 12 miles that day for their marathon training.

Pulling the trigger, with a silencer

In addition to the consideration of longer distances and longing to join my friends in their training, I was contemplating the possibility of moving from NYC at some point in the next couple of years. Living in NYC I am able to participate in a guaranteed entry program for the marathon that requires you to complete 9 qualifying races and one volunteer shift. If I ever wanted to run NYC, this would be the “easiest” way to get guaranteed entry and therefore not have to leave my entry to chance through the lottery. It was late in the year though, almost September, and I had travel plans for two weekends in October. Were there enough qualifying races left? I had completed 3 races already–that first 5 miler, and two others that I had integrated into my 10 miler training plan–but with my travel two weekends in October, it would be close. I signed up for 4 races with the final race being on December 31st and also selected a volunteer shift handing out race bibs at the marathon expo. There were just three other qualifiers that I could have actually ran including a half marathon which I wanted to run, but didn’t think I would be ready for in time. For some reason I didn’t even think about throwing an extra race on as insurance.

Until it’s gone

I kept my 9+1 goal mostly to myself. I figured if I wasn’t ready by the time registration came around or by marathon time, I could defer to the following year. Not telling anyone would allow me to defer without peer pressure. Then one afternoon in September, for some reason, I decided to just confirm that all of my races were qualifiers. I am not quite sure why as I had studied each of the races before I registered for them.

That’s when I saw it. My last race was NOT a qualifier. I frantically looked at the race calendar to search for another race. There was just 1 left that I wasn’t registered for and could actually run because of my travel schedule. It was that dang half marathon. But was it available? The site said “Near Capacity.” I breathed a small sigh of relief and started my registration. For some reason the race wasn’t available for registration, though, even though it didn’t say “Sold Out.” I emailed the running club. Via email I was informed the race had sold out. I pleaded my case–the last race had been a qualifier, but then changed! Not so, they said. The site said the half marathon wasn’t sold out! It sold out while I was emailing. I was heartbroken. Then a glimmer… the person on the other end of the email told me that they tried to register me, but my credit card info on file was incorrect–could I correct it? COULD I?! I updated my information like my life depended on it. Then silence. I cried. I paced. I prayed. I chatted with a friend who despite all of her attempts to calm me with logic, failed. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I may vomit. Then I saw it. “NYRR Order Summary” was the subject line. I could finally breathe.

That afternoon I came to realize just how much this marathon thing meant to me. This wasn’t some casual thing that I was going to defer. The thought of having to wait another year to complete my guaranteed entry and pushing off the marathon to 2016 was scary. If I was that upset about the possibility of it slipping away for a year, it was big. And it was something that shouldn’t be a secret.

Facebook post
Declaring my intentions on Facebook.

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