Non-Marathon Man


My 2013 race schedule looks a lot like last year’s, kicking off with the Super 5K this Sunday and continuing favorites like the Martian and Dexter-Ann Arbor half marathons. But no 26.2 in the plan. It feels sort of awkward when everyone else in the PR Fitness group is talking about Boston, Bayshore, and/or The Flying Pig, but there you are.

No marathon? What are you, CRAZY??
No marathon? What are you, CRAZY??

So what’s up? Several things.

"No one runs marathons anymore. They're too crowded."
“No one runs marathons anymore. They’re too crowded.”

For one, marathons are expensive. Chicago in 2011 was $150.00 just for the privilege of running it, not counting the hotel, gas, meals, and travel time. And they’re crowded; 38,000 runners in Chicago, and over 40,000 for the main events like Boston and New York. Unless you qualify for one of the start corrals, you’re in a cattle drive for half the race. Indeed, the popularity of marathons is causing headaches for some race organizers trying to deal with the logistics of handling so many runners and all their needs.

(Yes, there will be an Ann Arbor Marathon this year,  which is not too expensive and not very large. However, it’s just one week after Dexter-Ann Arbor. I did it in 2012 with a two week gap, and well, let’s just say it wasn’t very pretty.)

And having now completed a couple of marathons, the mystique is gone. Some people find them addictive (there’s a guy in our group who’s run 190 of them to date), but for me, the urge to do more of them isn’t there. Frankly, after about 18 miles a marathon stops being fun; the mental fatigue gets as bad as the physical, and boy, am I sick of tepid Gatorade and Gu by that time.

Barf bucket? Thanks, don't mind if I do. (Mile 23, A2 Marathon 2012)
Barf bucket? Thanks, don’t mind if I do. (Mile 23, A2 Marathon 2012)

In contrast, I can (and do) enjoy a half marathon the entire way. It still feels like a real accomplishment, and even though I run it harder I’m not as thoroughly wiped out at the end. And recovery is faster; it takes at least 3-4 weeks for me to regain full training form after a marathon, where a half marathon takes about 10 days. A shorter recovery time also means more flexibility if I step up my Aikido training or want to take a long bike ride.

All this said, I do have a new goal run this September. Already signed up for it. More about it coming up shortly. But next up: another chocolate bar review. (Oh, the things I do for blog and country.)

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