A couple of weeks ago, I signed up to run the Marine Corps Marathon (October 25th 2015). This will be my fourth full marathon, but two things will make this training period slightly different than my past three. The first is that I will be attempting Hal Higdon’s advanced marathon training program. (I’m a huge fan of Hal Higdon’s training programs. In the past, I’ve used both his Novice 2 and Intermediate 2 programs.) The second is that for the first time in my marathon career (if you can really call it a career), I will be running with a charity—the St. Jude Heroes charity for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
As I mention in the blurb on my personal donation page, I’m excited to be coupling my personal training goals with a goal to achieve something for a cause far greater than whatever my personal running-related goals could ever be. But with any sort of heightened excitement—for me at least—also comes heightened nervousness. In the past I’ve always said that I go into every race with an a-goal, a b-goal, and a c-goal (always a bit thrown by the number of people who think I meant “seagull’ after the last one). For the past three marathons I ran my goals have been as follows:
A. Qualify for Boston (i.e. run a 3:35 marathon).
B. Achieve a personal record (PR).
C. Cross the finish line.
Being the extremely competitive and slightly obsessive-compulsive person that I am, I’m not saying that on the occasions that I have achieved my c-goal and not my a-or-b goals (which has been two out of the three occasions) that I haven’t spent far too many hours obsessing over what I did “wrong” as if doing so could negate whatever “wrong” thing(s) I did. But whether or not my actions always add up to my words and thoughts, I do not believe that a person should ever be upset with themselves for “merely finishing” a marathon.
I didn’t qualify for Boston during the Nashville Rock n’ Roll Marathon. I guess I did PR, but that’s only because it was the first marathon I actually ran (I had trained for NYC the year it was hurricaned out). I neither PRed nor qualified for Boston during the NYC Marathon the following fall. But I both PRed and qualified for Boston in Detroit last year, which left anyone interested in my running/marathon goals (or anyone good at pretending they were interested) with the question, “now what?”
It was a really good question. I think at one point I saw qualifying and competing in the Boston Marathon as something of an end goal. But that isn’t the case anymore. I said to quite a few people, “no more marathons (until Boston) until I finish a draft of my ‘project,’” to which most responded, “yeah right,” and yeah, they were right. I should have said “no more wine” or “no more French fries,” but in all honesty I would have likely succumbed to my desire for those things too (possibly sooner than my I did to marathon-training one).
NOTE: “Project” is my intentionally-vague code word for novel that I’ve decided to use until the aforementioned draft is complete. That being said, I do still plan to complete a rough draft of my project before running the Marine Corps Marathon. (I also plan to eat many French Fries before doing so.)
This may sound corny, but marathon training is a part of me now. Whether it is a good or bad (or sometimes good, but sometimes bad) part of me is up for debate, but it challenges me, grounds me, inspires me, and—in many ways—completes me, while also encouraging me to look for more/better ways to be complete. At present, that means adding fundraising for the incredible organization that is St. Jude to my marathon-training regime. I’m signed up to raise $4,500 over the next few months and, to be honest, this seems more challenging, more frightening, but also more exhilarating to me than the weekly mileage increase or interval workouts that differentiate this training program from the past ones. The stakes feel higher because they are not dependent on how hard I train or how fast I run. Well, perhaps my b-goal and c-goals are, but my a-goal this time around is to raise the money I’ve promised to raise.
If you’d like to donate to my personal page, please do so here.