Tuesday, June 5, 2012

When Did I Cross Over To The Dark Side?

I'm not sure when it happened, but it most certainly did. And to be honest, I never saw it coming. In fact, I swore up and down to myself that it wouldn't happen. I was not going to allow it.

But yet, it happened.

I crossed over to the dark side, thinking more and more about running marathons and beyond.

It wasn't so long ago I solely focused on doing as many half marathons I could. Now, the half marathon distance is a nice, long run on weekends.

What has happened to me?

Really, I never say this coming ... not that I'm complaining. I'm just trying to figure out when switch was flipped in my brain.

I recall after completing my first half marathon in October of 2010 that while I wanted to run another 13.1-mile race, I had no desire to go on past that. Running a full marathon was pure craziness. Following my rough experience during my second half, I was convinced I'd never run a full.

Then I went on a stretch of running in three half marathons within a 50-day period. During that time, something changed in me.

I've said this before, but that 50-day stretch was tough. A lot tougher than expected. I figured with four weeks in between the first two half marathons and three weeks between the final two I would have time to bounce back and recover. I did have time to rebound and I was prepared for each race, but I forgot about how my crazy work schedule would play into the mix.

It was nuts.

I am proud of my times, surpassing my goal of posting a sub-2:15 time in all three going 2:09, 2:11 and 2:13. In between the races, I could feel my body going through a range of feelings, sensations, and states of being. At times, I felt tired, and yet stronger at other times. Battling through all this was a huge mental challenge for me. Can't tell you how many times I questioned my sanity and why I was doing all these races in such a short period of time. Still, after each race, I longed for more.

It was during this stretch of races the idea of doing a full marathon struck a chord with me. So, I signed up for the Knoxville Marathon.

Going into my training for the marathon, I figured this would be a one time thing. Something to cross off the bucket list. Never did I ever think I would want to do this again.

One of my long-term running goals was to run 50 half marathons by age 50. I have six under my belt with about 9 1/2 years until my 50th birthday. I'm not sure I'll hit that goal because I have now fallen in love with the marathon.

It was some time around or during my final long run before my marathon that it hit me how much I was going to miss training. This was when I first realized I had a problem. I longed for the 20-mile training runs, who does this?

So, even before I had completed my first 26.2-mile jaunt, I was seeking out my next one. I had to do one this fall. I just HAD! (And as most of you know, I've already signed up for one - the 7 Bridges Marathon on Oct. 21.)

But now my thinking has going to looking to half marathons to seeking out marathons ... and ultras. Yep, I thinking going beyond 26.2 miles. Not sure when, but I do see a 50K in my future. That aside, now when I look at running races with a half and full option, my leaning is now toward the full.

I might have never saw this coming, but I'm not complaining. One of the things I love about running are the challenges it presents me. I love pushing myself farther and further than I ever thought I could go. Seems corny to say, but it's been amazing all the places running has taken me. And I can't wait to see where it takes me in the future.

While races have a finish line, running is much more than that. It's about the journey. Embrace the journey and allow it to take you to places you never thought possible.

So, I crossed over and joined the dark side of marathon running, and I'm so glad I did.

Happy running!