Changing My Mind About Marathons

Some of you might remember this post, when I declared to all and sundry that I would not, ever, be running a marathon. The act of running a half-marathon was enough. More than enough, even. Despite the fact that I actually kind of enjoyed parts of it, and that I completed it, and that, eventually, I was able to walk again, running 26.2 miles was officially off the bucket list.

Well, my friends.

I have something to tell you.

Jared and I are training for a marathon.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Before things get too crazy, take a look at that sentence again. We’re training for a marathon. As in, we haven’t actually signed up yet. We’re dipping our toes into the water by following a 16-week marathon training plan (thanks internet) and hoping that neither of us inadvertently gets injured. But signing up seems like a minor detail; we’re committed.

We bought a water belt and body glide. I’m waiting on a new sports bra and pair of shoes to arrive from the States (stuff is crazy expensive here). I made a new running board on Pinterest. We talk, constantly, about this run. About when and what to eat, the layers we’ll wear, the socks I’ll need, the stretching and strengthening exercises we’ll do. I’m drawn to this marathon because it is a specific, achievable goal. There are no illusions: either you run 26.2 miles or you don’t.

The marathon is scheduled for July 21st in the Hunter Valley Gardens, during the Aussie winter. I admit, I was initially drawn to the location, in the heart of wine country. Because obviously, running and wine go hand in hand.

Hunter valley
Makes you want to lace up your shoes, doesn’t it? No, you’re right, it doesn’t.

Last Saturday we went for an 11-mile run to cap off week 6 of training. It was the second-longest run I’ve ever done in my life. We went through Glenrock National Park, a favorite with Newcastle cyclists and a great place to run, if you don’t mind inclines.

I mind inclines. I mind them a lot.

What’s the word for doing something really, really slowly? Something that means you’ve mustered up maximum effort for minimal result? No. I can’t think of it either. Anyway, that’s what I did up the hill. And down the hill. And up the next one.

Slow and steady wins the race – as long as you’re the only one in it.

When we passed the halfway point and started back towards home, I gave Jared the okay to go ahead. When he finished, he turned back and caught up with me, and we ran the last 500 meters together.

“That wasn’t so bad,” he said. “I feel like I could have kept going.”

I didn’t say anything, unless you count an unhealthy wheezing noise as conversation.

I checked the watch for my stats. 1 hour 59 minutes. What the heck? Surely I went faster than that.

To put this in perspective, I ran these 11 miles five minutes slower than I ran 13.1 miles last September in Buenos Aires. Apparently, I’m getting worse. Unless it was the hills. You know what? It was probably the hills.

To be safe, I mentally adjusted my marathon goal from 4 hours to 4 1/2 hours. (I say my real goal is to finish, but I can’t shake the compulsion to set some sort of time frame as well.) Better to be realistic than disappointed.

IF we run it, that is.

Are you ready, shoes? Start runnin’.

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  1. Be careful. Marathons hurt, a lot. The day of is a bit painful but all those weeks and miles going in can really hurt. If you’re slow with it and don’t overtrain you can have a lot of fun….but most people overtrain!

    1. Yeah, my main worry is my ITB coming back to haunt me. So far so good, but I won’t be surprised if it flares up over the next few weeks. Running 4x a week and slowly building up (peaking @ 20 miles) then pulling back a bit before the actual run. No idea what will happen, but if I get through without injury I’ll be happy!

  2. Try adding local bee pollen to your diet. I’m sure I’ve talked about bee pollen before but once you have a steady dose of it in your system it becomes a really good source of energy. When I take some before a 12 hour work day I honestly notice a difference in my energy and focus through the day, so it could really help with running a marathon.

    Also I recognize that the preceding paragraph reads like an informercial for bee pollen but I just really love bee pollen. Keep it refrigerated.

    1. Are the bees paying you to say this?

      But for serious, I’ve been adding chia seeds to my diet (sprinkling on muesli) but have yet to notice a real difference. I’ll have a look out for bee pollen and add it as well. Maybe someone will sell it at the Sunday markets, but if not there’s an organic store down the road so I’ll check that out too.

  3. Good for you for even starting to train! I’ve tossed around the idea of doing a marathon in my head for years, but it still hasn’t happened yet. I run everyday, which I love, but the training schedule for a marathon kind of intimidates me.

    1. Thanks! We just signed up this afternoon – it’s officially real now. Surprisingly, I’m finding that the training schedule makes it feel more manageable. “I did 11 miles last week, so 12 should be doable.” However, I’m actively NOT thinking about the 20-miler. Or the marathon itself.

    1. That’s what made me go for it in the end – I knew it would nag me forever if I didn’t, and I wouldn’t regret it if I did!

    1. I asked a lady selling honey at the market if she had any bee pollen…she looked at me like I had two heads. Not having much luck here.

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