Yesterday I ran the Shamrock Shuffle for the billionth time in my life. The Shuffle is considered the official start of Running Season, at least for self-proclaimed Recreational Runners. For avid runners like myself, the season never really ends. I run all year long, although in the harsher winters I now succumb to the Dreadmill and run indoors. Many of my friends are even training for a spring marathon right now, which means they were training in the cold dark of winter.
I have to admit that I have been a little envious of all my friends posting their LR results every weekend on Facebook. During the bulk of my marathon/racing years I didn't have FB and had to brag the old fashioned way: sending out an annoying email to my friends like a Caveman!
I probably have one or two more marathons in me but if I'm gonna run another one, there has to be some extra prize at the end. Since my first marathon in 1998, I've run 22 marathons so I certainly have proven that I can push my body through 26.2 miles of pavement and in spite of the cliché, for me it's more than just simply finishing. I know that I can do it and that if I were forced to do one tomorrow, I could walk/run it in under 6 hours. The fact is, I don't need another 4+ hour marathon under my belt.
When I started this marathon business, I did one marathon a year. After a few years I got the crazy idea that in order to improve, I needed to keep my running base up all year so I would do winter training which eventually led to spring marathons because if you're gonna do the work you might as well get the results. So I switched to a two marathon a year schedule which foolishly morphed into doing three marathons a year at one point (2007, 2008). This led to injury and along with old age, has cut my marathon career a bit short. I got my knee scoped in 2010 and haven't really run a marathon since (I did run/walk the Detroit Marathon in 2012).
Even though I cannot feel any pain in my knee, the damage continued running that my doctor alluded to might become more severe forcing that retirement issue altogether. I'm currently getting injections of hyaluronic acid/Euflexxa in the knee which should help my arthritic knee. The doctor said I could run another marathon if I can find a way to train for it by only running 2-3 times a week (he says 2, I think 3 so we'll see).
The other things to keep in mind is that training for a marathon is a big commitment of time and resources, especially if you're gonna do it right. My first two marathons I did half ass and the results back that up. The typical training schedule is 16 - 18 weeks and it gets old getting up early to run to beat the heat or trying to squeeze a run in during lunch or after work.
When you train for a marathon, you find yourself married to a training schedule and making the time to run those miles can be tricky. Most people think that you just go for a few runs on the weekend and before work and you're set. No Charlie, it's much more than that. When the mileage gets high, it takes even the fastest runners at least an hour to cover the mid-week long distance and that isn't factoring in the time to change in and out of your running clothes and showering.
I would probably only do another one under the following conditions:
- If I were certain I could have a successful experience. By successful I mean I don't want to run/walk an entire marathon again. Been there, done that. The next marathon will at the very least be about running at least 80% of it before bonking. Hopefully it's about more than that.
- If Nightingale says honey I want to go [some location outside of US soil] and there happens to be a marathon the same time we are going and have 16-18 weeks prior to said vacation trip to train beforehand of course.
- My Personal Best (aka fastest marathon time) is 3:29:52 at the 2006 Spirit of St Louis Marathon. That wasn't fast enough for then 36 year old me to qualify for Boston and it certainly wouldn't do the trick today. In May however, I turn 45 and the BQ time is 3:25 so maybe Race Day Magic strikes again.
While I don't have any marathons planned any time soon, I do believe there is at least one more marathon in my future. Possible a few more throughout my sunset years. I just have to pick them judiciously and train for them carefully.
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