Hi! Have you heard? My name is Megan, and I’m a marathon finisher. Oh, you have heard. Ok, then. Hmm.
…makes that “I’m perplexed” face that never photographs well.
Um, guys? What now?
What now, indeed? That is the question, you see. There’s been this goal for the past year, a rather slippery and troublesome but clear and well-defined goal…and now it’s gone. Poof! Just like that. In Running 101, we all learn that the easiest way to train consistently is to train for something. I suppose I’m in the market for a new something (because I certainly want to continue training consistently), but I have no idea what that is.
I do, however, see a few obvious options.
Option A: Run Another Marathon
This is what everyone has been waiting for. “Will she get hooked?” “Will she catch marathon fever?” I will admit that improving upon my marathon time is an obvious option. I will also admit that there is a part of myself that has been contemplating changes in strategy from the moment I crossed the finish line. This self is pretty sure that, by resolving the stomach issue, providing my own hydration instead of depending on water stops, and with a little bit of luck, I would be able to break four hours handily. This self is also reasonably confident that, once the four hour barrier is out of the way, running a Boston qualifier wouldn’t be completely out of the question.
This self, however, also happens to be in the minority. The rest of me (I’d put it at 99.8%) firmly declares: ONE IS ENOUGH. NO MORE. It’s not even the training that frightens me off. It gets boring, sure, but I actually don’t mind the training. What gets me is the pressure of performing on the day you’re given. The gamble of placing four months of training on the line and hoping for the best. And we all know that for the next one, finishing won’t be enough. Given all of my experiences with the marathon, I don’t think that pursuing another with a time in mind would be an example of running for fun. I’d like to spare myself (and those closest to me) the physical and mental anguish. You can call me a marathon coward. It’s ok. I’ll just call myself informed. 🙂
Option B: Go for the Ultra
Hahahahahahahhahaha…oh, so funny. Run farther than a marathon? No way, Jose.
Option C: Own the Half
More and more (but particularly after running a full), I find myself thinking that the half marathon is a reasonable distance. It requires dedication and a training plan but is more forgiving than its longer brethren. Furthermore, my half marathon PR comes from the first half of the Kentucky Derby Marathon attempt…meaning, there ought to be plenty of room to improve upon it. Without the 15, 17, 20, or 22-mile runs. Hmm…this is sounding better and better all the time!
Option D: Other
I always love the “other” option on forms. “Other” means “we ran out of ideas, but if you’d be so helpful as to supply us with one we’ll be happy to recognize it.” In this case, “other” for me means anything between a 10k and the half marathon. I think an “other” might be my first race back, both because of the novelty of running for under an hour (just imagine!) and because the Sunrise Run 8k seems like a particularly good opportunity to race. It’s in June, so I have time to see what a little speedwork on top of the marathon training base will bring me. I’m familiar with the course, so there won’t be any surprises there. And, of course, despite the pesky word “sunrise” which means an early start, the race is in my neck of the woods so it won’t be too much of an inconvenience.
So. It looks like I’ll be running smaller races in preparation for a half marathon in the undisclosed future. That is the answer to the question. Now, the next step, I suppose, would be…running? I’ve felt ready to go this week, but after my extended training period (and the recent knee soreness) I’ve forced myself to lay low. I don’t want to jump back in too quickly and regret it later. I’ll probably get out sometime this weekend and see how it goes.