On my birthday, I got a letter from my former running buddy Perrin. She sent me a nice long-sleeved winter running layer and then wrote something to the effect of “Now that you’re 26, it’s a good year to go 26.2.”
I sat the letter aside, but the idea kept growing in my mind…
I ran and finished my first half marathon, Tinker Bell, partly because of Perrin’s running enthusiasm. Despite being in med school and then in residency, she’s done multiple marathons and half marathons.
I hadn’t planned on running a full marathon until maybe the Portland Marathon in October 2016. I’ve long told running buddies and family that the only 2 marathons that really interest me for a first time were the Portland Marathon and the Walt Disney World Marathon.
I couldn’t make the times work– aside from stretching the limits of my vacation time and the cost, Disney World Marathon Weekend is the weekend before the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend— of which I’m already registered to run the Rebel Challenge at.
The Portland Marathon is in October… and by October 2016, I’d already be 27.
I looked at other races; they had to be fun, fairly flat, and big enough that I wouldn’t be one of the last runners dragging myself across the finish line.
I looked at Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle (too hilly) and New Orleans (not enough vacation time) and Flying Pig Marathon (hilly and far away). I looked at local races, like the Eugene Marathon (too competitive) and Jason’s first, the Foot Traffic Flat (too small).
I asked the advice of friends and family. Perhaps I should just put aside the idea of 26.2 at 26 and concentrate on other goals, like completing a triathlon in the spring.
Yesterday, I went on a hilly training run with my friend Katie (who will be running the Chicago Marathon coming up) and her dog. I explained my conundrum and she talked about marathons she has run and the training involved. Looking at my vacations, schedule and important dates for 2016, I basically decided to set aside the idea of doing a marathon before my 27th birthday.
But then my mom came up with a crazy idea, an insane idea.
If I’m dedicated to doing to the distance, and since the Portland Marathon is open to walkers, why don’t I just register and plan to walk the 2015 marathon in early October?
I scoffed, I laughed. I said, that’s barely two months of training! I train smart, I train safe!I haven’t even kept up a good running schedule this summer, I said.
Don’t run it, she said. I’ve gone backpacking this summer, I’ve done a few runs, I stay fit. Train the best you can, she suggested, and plan to walk the bulk of the race.
I thought about it. Perhaps it could work…
The Portland Marathon has a certain lure for me. My first memory of the race is volunteering at about age 9 with my girl scout troop. We were tasked with removing all the thorns from the roses that were handed to the runners. I remember looking at the tired runners wrapped in mylar heat sheets and being super impressed.
But would planning on a slow marathon, rather than doing a full training schedule and trying to reach my full potential, cheapen the marathon distance for me?
I asked Jason, who just turned in a killer marathon time despite heat issues. “It’s still a good distance,” he said. If I did it, would he like to run it too?
I guess it’s still too soon.
In the end, I decided that taking an easy pace and walking most of the race with only a little bit of running thrown in would be a good way to conquer my fears of the full marathon distance and still complete the distance at age 26.
I did it guys, I signed up. I’m still kind of in shock.
And considering Portland’s reputation for being a walking marathon, I won’t be alone at the back of the pack.
Unlike most people who sign up for a marathon unprepared, I’m very cautious about avoiding injury and training smart. I vow not to overexert myself or do anything stupid that will prevent me from finishing and having a good time.
But with less than two months until the Portland Marathon on October 4th, 2015, I better get my walking shoes on! I’ll be practicing my speed walking and logging the walking miles as well as doing regular training runs
I’m going a 2-day backpacking trip this weekend; A total 12.4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2970 feet. Perhaps that will be a great start.