25 April 2011

I'm Over Marathons

I don't think I'm going to run marathons anymore.

I was torn for a long time. I've been running the NYC Marathon since 2004. I wanted to throw my name in the lottery (Didn't even attempt to qualify with time or with races last year.), but I didn't. It was a hard decision, but I'm trying to accept that there's more than one race (which is a very difficult thing to do when you're part of a running club where the NYC Marathon is the main racing focus for many people.) 

Last year's marathons were quite disappointing - Boston was a mere three weeks after Umstead, and my legs felt like hell. NYC, two weeks after Javelina. That's not the way to run a marathon. Far from PRs...


Marathons are hard. A lot of people say to me, "Oh, a marathon must be cake to you." Yes, they're easier than 100 milers, a lot easier, a lot less pain, a lot less mental anguish, a lot less mental and physical strength needed, but they're still hard. You're running shorter, almost a quarter of the distance, but you have to run FAST. Marathons also lack that comradery, community, spirit that is in ultras - helping everyone around you, making new friends, feeling like you belong and you are loved and welcomed into an amazing community. NYC Marathon is fun, with the fantastic crowd support, the bands, the energy, my teammates, the amazing volunteers - but honestly,it's not as fun as a 100 Miler.


Ultras have a different energy. Yes, we're intense, but we have more time to play with - that might be way we're willing to help others because it's usually minutes or hours, not seconds, that we're concerned about. It's the community. It's eating homemade brownies and fresh-baked cookies while talking with a volunteer about chafing and DKNY bras. It's people loving your outfits, people wearing geeky outfits, talking about gus and poop and training regiments and body lubes and love and death and divorce - and knowing that we're all in this for the same goal, of personal satisfaction.


Marathons - they're fun. I'm not totally off them. I'd love to go sub 3:20. I'd love to feel fast, to feel that high. Maybe I should have signed up for NYC. (Too late now.) I lost a lot of the desire to run fast on roads when I discovered how amazing it is to run free on beautiful trails in amazing places (ahem, Marin Headlands...). I like running fast down a fire road, heading towards another aid station, making new friends, feeling so alive out there on the trails...


For now, the long trails are my home.

5 comments:

herb said...

Great post. I completely agree that the two are very different. Both can hurt and both take dedication. Each are intense in their own ways. In fact, this goes down the spectrum all the way to the 5K.

I also agree the two take a very different type of training. I find it's more difficult to run your best marathon while training for ultras, and I decided I had to make the same decision as you, except I chose to focus on hitting my goals in the marathon; for now at least.

Best of luck to you in your ultra endeavors.

Robin said...

Agree. Though, I'm registered for NYC this year. I simply don't enjoy road running as much as trail running and if I'm not having a good time, what's the point... right? More than a dozen road marathons and I'm pretty much done. Time to make my heart happy. Trails = happiness :-)

olga said...

I feel your pain:) which is different, but still pain. May be that's why I think I need another go at it...

anuday said...

I have been Ultras and in particular multidays for quite some time now and yes marathons are hard becuase of the intensity and competitivness, but it is nice to doone once in a while.

catskillmarina said...

I ran my first long race in 1984 in my first year in college. It was the JFK 50 miler. For a number of years i ran ultras and a very occasional trail race - Escarpment Trail and Vermont. I stopped running for about 13 years. I ran my first marathon in 2010. I had a good time, though now that i am running a lot on trails and ultras i don't feel like i could run well at a marathon. I can have fun though. I do avoid big city Marathons - the crowds kind of scare me a bit.