Three years ago the thought of myself running a marathon was laughable. The only running I’d done in the past involved forced laps during gym class, which I viewed as torture. When I started training for my first 5K, I could only jog continuously for about a minute before I stopped to walk. Completing that 3.1 mile race at a slow jog felt like an epic accomplishment, which made the idea of 26.2 miles seem about as probable as climbing Mount Everest. If I had to sum up my marathon hopes with three words, “When Pigs Fly” would’ve been quite appropriate.
Well guess what? Last week I started training for my first marathon and, ironically enough, it’s called the Flying Pig!
I’m not sure exactly when the thought of running a marathon started rattling around in my brain. Perhaps when I finished a half marathon and realized it wasn’t SO bad after all? Plenty of running books and documentaries have added to the inspiration. (Check out “Spirit of the Marathon” on Hulu or Netflix, one of my faves!) I would walk around running expos eyeing up the booths from various big-city marathons. But it was never a solid plan, just a vague idea.
Looking at my 2013 race schedule, I decided to aim for a half marathon in April, and MAYBE (huge MAYBE) run a full marathon in the fall … Until I went to register for the April race and realized that I had a scheduling conflict for that date. Doh! Back to the drawing board.
So I started looking for a different half marathon and found a couple of options in early May. One of them was the Flying Pig weekend in Cincinnati, which I’d always heard great things about. Like a lot of larger races, it offered the choice of a half or a full marathon. And that’s when the crazy ideas started to creep in …
What if I run a FULL marathon in May instead? I’ve already built up a solid two months of base mileage, which would put me at exactly the starting point I need to begin a 16-week marathon training plan.
But it’s January in Cleveland, is this such a good idea? On the other hand, it’s JANUARY in CLEVELAND and I’ve already done a great job of sticking to my schedule, including running through blizzards and frigid windchills. It can’t really get a whole lot worse. Plus if I was training for a fall marathon, I’d be starting in the July heat and humidity instead. And I really hate running in hot weather.
But do I really want to travel that far for a race, and will I even be able to find somewhere to stay? A quick check showed that it’s only a four-hour drive, totally doable for a weekend. And after a little more searching I found a super price on a hotel less than a mile from the expo and the starting line. And come to think of it, wouldn’t it actually be more worth it to make the trip if I was running a longer race?
And then came the clincher: As I scrolled through the list of charity groups participating in the Flying Pig, I came across Team In Training. Team in Training is a group that supports endurance athletes as they raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This is a cause that has recently become very personal to me, and I knew it would be great to have that extra motivation pulling me along. To top it all off, they were running a special with a reduced entry fee. And everyone knows I love a bargain!
The last of my excuses had melted away. All signs were pointing in the direction of the marathon. There would always be a million reasons NOT to try it. If I didn’t take the chance I had in front of me right now, would I ever be willing to make that leap?
So before I could think about it too long, I jumped on the Team In Training website and signed up. Yes, I’m scared. Will I be able to put in the mileage? Can I avoid getting hurt? Is it possible to raise the money to meet my fundraising requirement?
Time will tell. It’s going to be an interesting few months. But if there’s one thing running has taught me, it’s to never say “never” … So watch out for flying pigs!
Updated on 3/17/13 … I’m still training for the Flying Pig on my own, but fundraising issues caused me to switch to running the Rock ‘N’ Roll Cleveland Half Marathon with Team In Training. If you’d like to help me with my goal, please visit my personal page: http://pages.teamintraining.org/noh/rnrclevh13/MileageMama
The author is a wife, mother, and solidly average “middle of the pack” runner from Northeast Ohio. Check her out on Twitter @MileageMama: https://twitter.com/MileageMama