Friday, October 17, 2008

Some Post-Marathon Thoughts

Now that we've had a few days to recover and get a little perspective, I thought I'd share a few thoughts that I've had over the past few days.

First, one question that I have been getting is, "When are you going to run your next marathon?" The truth right now is that I don't know. Am I done running marathons? Pretty unlikely. I don't really see a reason to stop. The pain goes away, although my run this morning was rough. My toes are still pretty beat up and my legs are sore. The sting that is the struggle of the marathon will leave...sometimes sooner rather than later. And the build up of 16-18 weeks of training for one day can be very frustrating. As I was telling my father-in-law on Sunday after the race, there are so many things that can blow up that day when you have to run 26.2 miles. The more I think about it, the more that makes the marathon both wonderful and horrible.

Running is a great way to stay healthy and stay motivated to get off of your ass. I know, nobody says that to be a runner or stay healthy you have to run 26.2 miles. But there's something about the marathon that makes you come back. For some of us, it's the competitiveness. Other runners do it because it is such a great challenge that not many people choose to ever undertake. And when you do it, you feel like you just did something special.

Or maybe it's that feeling you get when you cross the start line when thousands of people are cheering and making noise. You get goosebumps as you hit the start button on your watch and you're about to endure such a grueling mental and physical test. Even if you've done it before, the adrenaline rush those first few hundred yards never gets old or familiar. And the feeling you get from crossing the finish line isn't too bad either.

Then if you consider the fundraising effort this year, which amazingly hit the $33,000 mark yesterday, it really makes the whole thing the one of the best things I have ever been a part of. It would be hard to ever top this year in so many aspects. But, I think there can be some more good things done through running. And I also think I can run the marathon faster. If the temperature was cooler, I think I would have had at least a 3:22 on Sunday. Being 100% healthy probably would have helped too.

I once read that the optimum marathon temperature is 54 degrees and every five degrees above that can reduce your time up to 3 percent. So, while I don't feel like I have anything to prove, there's definitely reason to go back for more.

Anyway, while I am not committing to when the next one will be, you could probably pencil something in for next October or so. We also do have a special arrival that's due to arrive somewhere around February 14th, so I'll be a little busy and sleep deprived in the Spring.

I've really surrounded myself with more interaction with runners in the training leading up to this one through both Runners World Discussions and . In years past, I have usually kept to myself, pounded out some miles, run a marathon and gone home. I have also never joined CARA (chicago area runners association). But I feel like I have made quite a few new acquaintances and even a few new running friends who I can share experiences with and who know what it's like to have this crazy habit. And they are certainly no different about their love of running.

Walter is looking to get back out there and is considering doing a December marathon in Memphis in his quest to hit the 3:20 mark. Ron has a half marathon planned for November and is thinking of doing a 40 at 40 fundraising event for cancer- 40 miles at 40 years old in honor of one of his family members. And Tom from the Runners Lounge just completed his favorite marathon - Chicago- for something like the 12th time. And let's not forget Matt Rauls, who finished his first marathon on Sunday. I asked him if he was coming back next year and he said, "Never again." I have said those words before. I think the last time was after finishing the Chicago Marathon in 2007. Tiffany likes to keep track of how long it takes me go from non-committal about another marathon, then to maybe, then when I tell her that I signed up.
You can't sign up for Chicago until January, so it's going to be at least until then until it's offical.

Here are a few excerpts from some other people's experiences from last Sunday that I liked and think that you might as well.

From ESG's gotlactate blog:
It is tempting to write a long, borderline histrionic race report, aggrandizing my marathon effort as if it were some Odyssean battle of good versus evil. Of course, runner and non-runners alike know that the marathon is really a battle with oneself. We battle our bodies' perceived limitations; we battle the obstacles life throws in our way. We battle inertia, mockery, self-doubt. We battle injuries and time crunches, inadequate rest and competing obligations. We battle and struggle and scratch and claw and sacrifice with the hope that on race day, we will know it was all worth it because we picked a goal time we thought we could run and we actually ran it.

From Greg's Runningandrehab blog :
As for my race performance, I was able to go on today, and hear from all the folks that have been training extremely hard, and hear of all of there experiences. The good, bad and the ugly... and I realized that I am very blessed. But the truth is that, to have a good marathon performance, everything must be right. The weather, your body, and everything else!!! Ironically, yesterday was the Ironman Kona, which is where the best of the world compete to finish the Ironman, and last year's winner??? Was unable to finish.... he obviously has the talent, certainly trained well, but yesterday wasn't his day. Will he quit?? No, just pick up the pieces and try again. As Pat Riley said, "Hard work doesn't guarantee you anything, but without it, you don't stand a chance." I don't know any other way to train and approach my life in all of its various aspects , but to give it my all... and during my training I enjoyed every run, (except for 1), and I wouldn't change anything.... and can't wait to get back out there and do it again.

And from Walter on an RW thread:
I just want to thank each and every one of you for your kind words. I've had more time to think about things since I posted my report, and it's funny how your attitude can change within the span of a few hours. In my process of lamenting, I forgot all about the wonderful things I experienced while on the race course. It was amazing to experience Chicago the way that some of us did this past Sunday; even for someone like me who grew up in the Chicago area, it was a wonderful way to experience 29 different neighborhoods and all of the people who make Chicago such a great place. While feeling sorry for myself, I forgot how I felt as the race started and I was running north on Columbus Drive. I felt a sense of happiness and exuberance that I haven't felt since... back in my wild days. And although I was in a bit of a fog by then, I forgot how wonderful it was to experience the culture in the Pilsen and Chinatown neighborhoods.

So, although I continue to be driven by my goals to run the marathon in a certain time or to earn a BQ, and although these goals are important, to do so while failing to take in everything that goes on in a race, especially in a marathon like Chicago, is an absolute shame. It's important to keep things in perspective.

And Brian on a RW thread:
I am a bit jealous of everyone's weekend experiences. Runners, we are a different breed. I do not think we can be afraid to fail. In perspectice, the Marathon is such a special race with the distance making it so special. It is so difficult to consistantly meet one's potential, putting in thousands of miles of training in an effor to produce at that one moment of time where things have to go perfectly. Again, the marathon is so special due to all the stories it produces.

I am reminded of a quote I have on my fridge though:

"The pain of discipline and or failure far outweighs the pain of regret."

We toe the line. Though we may fail we will not have to suffer from the regret of not trying.

My we all wish for and gain that future perfect day!


Tiffany said...

Sounds like you're already at maybe...and January isn't that far away! I'll be ready when you are and you'll even have another little supporter to cheer you on! :)

Lynn said...

I think Paul is beyond maybe, but holding it in reserve for the arrival of that precious little bundle. How much fun to have another supporter! Mom2