I love writing about my marathons. They are such momentous occasions for me and I have such a feeling of accomplishment. And yet...when I read those articles online, on active.com, or competitor, or grab a copy of Runners World at the airport, I'm confronted by reality.
I'm not an especially "good" runner. I am slow. I am cautious, because I don't want to be injured. I do the Jeff Galloway thing, alternating running and walking intervals for most of my runs, knowing that because of that fact, there are people in the running community that don't consider me a "real" runner.
But, on the other hand, in the last two years I feel like I'm really starting to get that marathon thing. My time improved greatly at Philly last year. I ran a negative split and felt great at the end. New York this year was a much harder race, because of the wind and because it is a more challenging course, but I still improved my time by over a minute.
But there are women in my age group running under 4 hour marathons, lots of them! I want to run Boston in 2016, but I can't qualify. The current qualifying time for Boston for women 60-64 years old is 4 hours and 35 minutes. I would have to cut almost an hour off my current marathon time to do that, and that's just not reasonable. So, I will run it for a charity, and that in itself brings up a whole new set of challenges. Lots of people want to run Boston for a charity, so charity bibs are hard to get. I've sent out letters of interest to a bunch of charities already, but I know in order to get a bib I will need to promise them that I will raise a lot of money. I don't know yet how I will do that, except by harassing my family and friends and using part of my mom's inheritance, but somehow I will.
But running, oh running. The New York Marathon this year was so different, in the aftermath at least. It's such a big race and their presence on social media is huge. My post race glow will start to fade, and then I read another inspiring story on Facebook about someone that ran New York in the face of overwhelming odds and be overcome with emotion. I was there! I experienced it too! I crossed the Queensboro Bridge and heard the roar of the crowd as I entered Manhattan! I was buoyed by the crowds at mile 25! I've never ever experienced anything like that before in a race.
But now it's almost a month after New York, and it's time to let go of that experience. I've got a little bit of the post marathon blues, just a bit. A little bit of that feeling of "yeah yeah yeah, you've accomplished a lot, for YOU, but you're just a middle of the pack runner, not very good, not very bad, no big deal. You do it for the fun and health benefits, so shut up about it already."
So why, this time, is it so hard to let go of the experience? Part of it I know is knowing that my next marathon is so far away, a year and four and a half months, to be precise. Part of it is knowing that no other marathon I ever run will be quite like New York City.
But I also know what will get me out of this little running funk. I know that I'm finally really starting to "get" running. In the next 6 months I will play around with my training, change up my run/walk intervals, try massage, try different cross training exercises, maybe see a podiatrist about the arthritic pain in my big toe joints. I'll improve my running base, so when I finally start marathon training in ernest sometime early next fall, I'll have a good idea of what I want to accomplish and how to get there.
Sometimes I wonder just how long I will be able to keep up running marathons. When I look at the stats, the number of women running marathons really falls off in the late 60's and early 70's. There are people out there, still running of course, but the few that are there are running much much slower, and I just don't think I'm going to be willing to be out there running a marathon for 7+ hours when I'm 78. But we shall see. By the time I get there I will have been running semi seriously for over 30 years. And right now at least my times for the longer distances are continuing to improve.
I know it's time to say goodbye to New York. My medal is on my bulletin board, where it will stay until I get a newer marathon medal to replace it. My race bib is tucked away with all my other race bibs. My finisher shirts have been washed and hung in the closet, ready to be worn on a training run, or in some future 5k.
One of my friends gave me a cool 26.2 New York piece of bling that I can attach to my shoelaces. I won't wear something like that until a race is over; I'm a little superstitious like that. But before I run that 5k turkey trot on Thursday I need to attach it to my shoelaces. That way I can carry New York with me and let it inspire me. New York was so great, SO GREAT! The best race I have ever run, up to now. I want to keep it in my heart, and I also want to let it go.
Maybe someday I will run New York again, I don't know. If I stay healthy, if my times don't get too slow, if I make it through the rest of the races on my marathon bucket list. But even if I do, any future New York City marathon can never replace the one from 2014. Cold windy tough beautiful inspiring....that was this year. I've got that, I can say I ran New York. I did! Whatever else happens, I'm a New York City marathoner, and proud of it.