Saturday, February 23, 2008


I'm still backtracking.

Monday, Feb. 18, the day after the marathon

I'm euphoric. Although my marathon didn't go as planned, I had a wonderful time. I've got a medal. I've got a new tech shirt. I've got a Texas marathon on my map. I showed up, I ran, I conquered!

I walked the last 9 miles because I'd been sick and I'd messed up my race strategy and my nutrition, but I'd trained for 4:15 and expected 4:30.... suppose I hadn't blown up? Suppose I hadn't been sick? Suppose I'd done it "right?" It was my last marathon and I'd hoped to go out in a blaze of glory.

Of course, a REAL blaze of glory would have been 4:15 and an entry into Boston. Which, of course, would have meant another marathon.

But..... suppose..... hey, I'm all trained up and then my training went out the window. Except it's still in me. Suppose I rest up and get over my illness, and in a month or so, go do another marathon, and get it right this time?

I start cruising the internet for possibilities.

Dang. Look at this: The Big D Texas Marathon. April 6. 7 weeks away. In Dallas. As it happens, we're going to be in Dallas that weekend for our nephew's wedding on April 5.

Dang, I could do this. It's only $75. I'm excited. I can take a no-running rest for 2 weeks, get over my illness, do just one more 20-miler 3 weeks before the race, and go for broke, as long as I don't drink too much at the wedding.

I don't even have to decide yet. You can register on race day, $85.

I get excited. I feel elated, high as a kite. I can do this!! I want to do this!!

My husband, who always, always, always supports my athletic training and events, who helps us afford new gear for me, who goes with me whenever he can, questions me. Why do another one now? Didn't I need a Texas marathon, and didn't I just run it? What's this about "doing it right?" Besides, we need 4 new truck tires, and $75 is one-third of a truck tire.

I crash to from the clouds to the ground. The parachute didn't open. Forget it.
Evening: I have gone to work at the daycare the day after my marathon, medal in my tote bag, pain in my quads, confusion in my heart. I want a "better" marathon. I use my hands all afternoon to support myself crouching down and getting up, picking up toddlers, sitting on the floor with them. I hurt. My throat is scratchy. My head aches. I am tired.

This is marathon aftermath. And do I really want, again, in less than 2 months, to struggle past mile 23, mile 24, mile 25, wanting to quit, struggling not to slow down, or maybe having, once again, crashed at mile 17 and been walking since then? Or scrabbling for a 4:30 when what I need for Boston is 4:15, and there is NO WAY I can run a 4:15 anytime soon???

I realize that thinking about this marathon in Dallas is buying into a mindset I normally resist: that the only "better" race is a "faster" race, and I don't buy that at all, and I discourage it in my friends. "Better" is more than "faster." "Better" is stronger, or more comfortable, or more fun, or more satisfying, or digging deeper to hang in there..... "faster" is not the only "better."

I ponder. Putting aside the notion of "faster," it would be hard to have a better marathon than I ran yesterday. I ran strong after a conservative start and put in a 10-miler that, as I said in my report, would have thrilled me had it been a 10-mile race. I had surmounted a lot of obstacles, including training minimized by work and then a bout of die-hard illness.

Here is what went down on Sunday: I ran a great 10-mile race, followed by a 10K cool-down, followed by a 9-mile Appalachian Trail Training Hike. I met a wonderful friend, I had a lot of fun, I cheered on my suffering compatriots, I petted dogs, I thrilled kids by taking candy from them, I got a medal and a shirt when shirts were hard to come by, I finished happy as a pig in a poke.

This marathon had a taste of everything I have loved in 20 years of marathoning.

Maybe I don't need to do Dallas. Because I really did go out in a blaze of glory.


bunnygirl said...

I think we're not fully rational in the first weeks after a marathon. :-) But I'm intrigued by that Dallas marathon. It's a relatively new one, and since I have a cousin in nearby Arlington, I could probably do it on the cheap...

Oh, Ellie-- quit putting ideas in my head!!!

ShirleyPerly said...

Ellie, you are so funny! It sounds like you had too much fun to quit doing marathons for good. And I definitely agree with "faster" is not the only "better." My fastest marathon was not really fun until I crossed the finish line.

TxTriSkatemom said...

I'm doing the half at Big D. It's a pretty good course. It's fairly flat.

Bunnygirl, if you come to Dallas, we will have to hook up, too!!

peter said...

Good luck in your decision. I was sick right before the Chicago marathon and on antibiotics and it destroyed my ability to run it. After 8 miles I was off pace and thinking of dnfing for the first time ever. I finished, and even kept ahead of the No More Running Police but it made for a dreadful marathon. I could feel your pain, and am impressed by how you broke the parts of it down so wonderfully later.