But there's one question that I struggle with. One that I never quite know how to react to, or how to answer. "So what's next? A marathon?"
To their absolute credit, those that have asked me this question have also cheered me on since the day I started running almost two years ago, and I love them for it. They've seen me set running goals and reach them. They've seen my extreme dedication and love of the sport. And, having seen my joy and progression, they feel that I can, and would want, to take the next logical step...The marathon.
When I first started racing I was focused on the progression of distance in my races. I had to run a 5K before I did the 8K, and a 10K before the 15K... But that 'rule' quickly went out the window to allow for the multitude of races I wanted to do as the season went on. I've now raced every common distance from 5 to 30K. And of course since running the 30K a month ago, the marathon question has started coming up more frequently.
So... DO I want to do a marathon?
Honestly, I don't know. It's the only distance that has left me sitting on the fence. I pretty much have three concerns...
This past winter I glimpsed the side effects of added time and effort on my feet. I've had a couple nagging areas causing me some grief. So far I've continued to run through them, but they've stuck around and make me worry about risking injury with marathon training.
My next concern is almost more scary than an injury. I fear losing my love of running. Last fall, I enjoyed chatting with my running friends as we trained for the Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I was participating in my first half marathon, while the majority of my friends were doing the full marathon. After the race, I reduced my distance for about two weeks before launching into my 30K training plan. Meanwhile, a surprising number those marathon friends ran only on occasion--or not at all over the winter. I can't help but wonder if they felt less inspired to run now that they had reached their goal of running a marathon. Or that all the training had dampened their interest in running. I find losing that love and spark a scary thought.
Lastly, I put more time and effort into training for my recent 30K than any other race before. It was during the race itself that I realized I could and should have trained differently. My training had focused on finishing the distance--which I did, and at a pace that was in line with my training. Am I proud? Absolutely. But of course I found myself wishing I had been faster. To not have struggled with fuel. To not have had to walk. I knew that if I had really wanted those results I would have had to put in more focused training, more speed work, harder workouts, more fuel tests, more time on my feet and more time away from work, family and commitments. If I did a marathon, would I be happy with covering the distance?
As you can guess, if I was sitting on the fence, then of course there was another side to it!
As I was training for Around the Bay, friends kept telling me that with my training I could actually do a marathon. "Uhm, what?" I had used a modified marathon training plan for the 30K and they told me that most people typically go up to a maximum of about 32K during their long run training. I admit this peaked my interest somewhat. While I was suffering at many points during the second half and up to the finish of Around the Bay, I definitely couldn't imagine pulling off another 12K! That said, there had been a handful of good long runs in the upper 20Ks during my training that make me wonder if with the right training and fuel...perhaps I could make it.
If I were to run a marathon--I know exactly which one it would be. The Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I am a 3rd generation Torontonian, so Toronto holds a special place in my heart. I absolutely love the Canada Running Series races and have run many, including my first race ever (STWM 5K) and my first half (STWM half marathon). I love running in my city, and the STWM route covers the best the city has to offer. It was a no-brainer to register for the half in October 2015 only days after finishing my first one. I've applied to become a ambassador for the race. Perhaps this will help me decide.
For now I will continue to sit on the fence and scratch my head at the marathon question. And while I do, I will just keep running!