Friday, September 18, 2009

On marathons

I always said that I, "did not run." Like, as a rule.

I mean, I would run when necessary - during my many years of playing soccer or when being chased by something large and threatening, but when it came to Methods By Which One Gains Fitness, I, "did not run."

Because running sucked. A mile tried to kill me.

I remember being floored once, by a friend of mine who was training for a marathon, when she told me that if she could do it I could, too! Yay! After which she told me that all you have to do to start is be able to run three miles. After which I had to force myself not to slap her.

Three miles? Without stopping? Running all the while? Pffffffft - That's not happening.

I mean, not that I was starting to think I would want to run a marathon, but that sealed it, I couldn't imagine running a full mile (save for the instances described above - large scariness bearing down upon me, etc) and so would not be running any marathons.

Plus, and for me this is crucial, I didn't want it bad enough. Which is to say, not at all.

And to me, wanting something is the key to getting it. Not in the, Willy Wonka, "I want it NOW!" kinda of wanting it way, but in the, if I think about it long enough and keep working toward it long enough, I will get it, kinda of wanting it way.

You see.

Things like wanting to do a certain job, climb a particular route, knit a useful garment - that kind of thing. Sort of along the lines of the thing your mommy would tell you when you were a kid that you could do/have/be anything you wanted when you grew up if you "put your mind to it."

Well, to put it one way, I've spent a lot of time putting my mind to things, and running had never been one of those things. Mostly because of the agony involved, I'll be honest. And the fact that, who cares to be a runner if I have fitness things like step aerobics and yoga and free weights and kickboxing and mat Pilates and the StairMaster and the treadmill and the elliptical machine and the rowing machine and and and...I got bored.

I got bored of having get in my car and drive somewhere and having be to this place at a certain time and with 30 other people and with a gym card carrying my ugliest photo and a combo lock for the rickety gym locker and the boring ass routine of a warm up, workout and cool down in the going-through-the-motions mindset that I lived in at the gym.

I started to dream of simplicity.

Walking out my front door in my workout clothes and just going for a run.

Because it sounded simple and uncomplicated and solitary and sort of peaceful in a sweaty way and just WAY less of a pain in my ass than all that shit I said before involving the traditional idea I had about how one works out.

And, hey, running is healthy. Runners certainly LOOK healthy. And, that one time, my friend talked to her doctor about what she should do to get in shape and her doctor told her, "You could try running because, you know, you never see a fat runner."

And so the seed was planted, when all this came together in my head, and I began putting my mind to the idea that I, the "I do not run" girl, could, in fact, run.

When it all started to sink in, not only did I know that I would shed my Do Not Run status, but that I would, indeed, be a runner. Even if I wasn't a fast one.

Because now I WANTED it. I wanted to be able to run - a mile. That's it. Not even the three miles that would have put me on the Active list for potential marathon trainers everywhere.

I just wanted to be able to run a full, solid mile without collapsing in a heap of sweaty shame.

That took a while. Not a long while, but a meaningful one. In which I found out a lot of things like how New Balances are not for my narrow feet, how one shouldn't wear shoes with too much arch support, how one should never try running with unhealed blisters or without adequate boob support when your cans are as big as mine.

And when I ran that first full mile without shame heaps or collapsing or any other unflattering thing happening, I then wanted to be able to run three.

This is basically what started the whole slide into Running As I Now Know It. Which isn't to say that now I'm a super fast runner placing in all the local races and basically kicking all the Kenyans asses (as Bubba would say) in half marathons, but that initial wanting to run three miles lead to my wanting to run six miles and then wanting to run a 10K race, then wanting to challenge myself to a half marathon and then another and another and, well, here I am.

I am two weeks from my fourth half marathon and now I want something else.

And it's NOT to run a marathon. But thanks for asking. All of yous.

I have no plans to run a marathon.

Yes, I am serious.

No, I don't really think I will.

No, I don't really think about it.

No, not even after I've just finished a half marathon and am staggering around looking for an orange wedge and being accosted by those fools at the post-race booths who take advantage of your weakened mindset and inability to reason properly due to all the "I Can Do Anything" juices flowing over your brain cells blocking out rational thought to sign you up for Your Next Big Accomplishment because look at what you just did and YOU CAN DO ANYTHING GIVE US $150!

Not interested.

You know what I think of during these moments of running drunkenness? THANK GOD I DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR THE FULL.

I also thought that (perhaps out loud) during my last half in Seattle when I came upon the fork in the road and could take the "<----Half Marathon" route rather than the "Full Marathon ---->" route that took an abrupt and sharp turn up a hideous hill.

I believe my exact thoughts were, "Thank God I didn't lose my mind and sign up for that bullshit." and then, to keep myself in-line during future moments of weakness, "Hey, MIND - remember that you NEVER want to do that. Remember that at 12.5 miles or wherever this is, you were SO relieved to turn left rather than right that you should NEVER sign up for a marathon. ARE YOU LISTENING? Remember. And get me an orange wedge."

It's funny how when you tell someone you're running a race, of any distance, they ask you if you're going to (or if you have) run a marathon. As though that is the only distance of merit and by running anything less (or aspiring to less) you're a disappointment of some kind or at least have given yourself a nice ding on your ambition record.

To me, the fact that I went from being a person of "I do not run." status to being a person of "I have run multiple half marathons and various shorter distance races, and hey let's not forget when I first was able to get through a 3 mile run without walking while we're at it." status is plenty good.

In fact, the thing I ever really wanted was to finish 1 half marathon.


And now, I'll be running my fourth and thinking about what I want now. Which is to try trail running.

After tomorrow's 12 miler, next week's Tempos, a week of Tapering and the race on 10/4.

So, I apologize to you guys. Because I said I'd talk about something other than running, but here I am, just all talking about running and you all probably were more interested in knowing that Bubba tried to slice off his arm with the wheel attachment on the grinder while I was at a bridal shower last weekend, but don't worry!, he's OK and was leaving for his tetanus shot when I got home.

And as far as the I Thought I Was Having A Heart Attack Thing, well, I had my first run-in with indigestion and it was a scary moment of Am I Dying/Getting Old/Dying, after which (and after a Pepcid - thank you, mom, for sending me home with a box of these back in the day!) I was reassured by Bubba and my neighbors that I was just getting old and try not to have a huge lunch and then lie down on the couch.

So, there you go. Running and Other.

My job here is done.

Have a great weekend.


  1. I am, as always, seriously impressed by your running. I couldn't do a mile without some hurling, hurting, and many swears. True, I do not want to. And I'm with you on this. For me if I don't want something I'm not going to put in work for it. But I hope that if I ever change my mind I'll have the discipline and smart assed-ness that you have.

  2. You are my inspiration. In so many ways, your friendship makes me want to be better and I cannot thank you enough for that.

  3. So, uh, no full marys for you? Are you sure? lol

    I'm pretty sure the first time I had indigestion (when pregnant with#1), I thought I was dying. Thankfully I confided in a friend from church, who is a nurse, and she diagnosed me. And the first time I had acid reflux (when pregnant with #1), I thought I would kill myself.

    Anyway, are you sure you're not going to go the full distance?? 26.2 is calling you ...

  4. Um, yeah, anyone who thinks ONLY a full marathon is the true accomplishment is a loser. I briefly entertained the idea of running a half marathon and then remembered, OH YEAH, it's STILL ~13 miles! I'm not a runner of the 3 mile variety and give you full running credit for taking on half marathons. Multiple times.

  5. I think the reason that "you never see a fat runner" may not only be because running makes you thin, but because running when you're fat sucks. They don't make bras for asses, you know. And the chaffing. Oy. As a recently fat person, I know of what I speak.

  6. I want you to know that I was totally going to chump on my speed walking route this evening in order to eat a million smores over a backyard fire. And now? Yeah- now i feel like a fat ass and will be walking. Have a smore for me. :P

  7. Love this post and the glimpse into what drives your running....I crave running now. I haven't in months and months...I think the longest ever since I was like nine. The simplicity is what I love too....a sports and shoes. No membership, equipment or specific weather conditions needed. Love it. And LOVE trail running. Perhaps our finny-dig race should be on a trail?! xo

  8. I really enjoyed this post. As someone who can't run at all - it gives me hope. However, I am a bit (okay, maybe a lot) older than you, so I still don't know if running will ever be for me.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.