Three months into marathon training. One month left to go.

At this point, the most frequent thought I’m having is “why would anyone do this more than once?”

I went into marathon training not really knowing what to expect. Now that I sort of know, why would I do it again? Seriously, why? (I’m guessing after I finish the marathon, I’ll know why.)

I didn’t fully appreciate how great the early weeks of marathon training were

Right now, I’m running more weekly mileage than I ever have (previously, I worked up to 25-30 miles/week, now I’m averaging 35 when it’s not a cut-back week). It’s wearing me out physically and mentally and I feel like it’s taking over my life.

Physically, obviously the more you work out, the harder it is on your body. You’re tired. You want to (and often do) eat everything in sight. On the days I get to sleep in, I sleep for 10 hours. (This is why I don’t have kids.)

Time wise, I really feel like this is taking over my life. Most evenings after work, my routine is run, eat, shower, prepare for the next day, bedtime. Boooring. My entire weekends are planned around my long run. First world problem for sure, but I feel bad when I tell my friend “no, I can’t come to your band’s show, even though I really do want to, because I have to go to bed early for marathon training.” I feel so self-centered. Especially when said friend generously purchased an “I ❤ Fast Women” shirt. I also feel like the most boring person ever.

But I feel like the hardest challenge is mental.

I love running. Obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have started this blog. I wouldn’t have signed up for a marathon. I enjoy the act of running, it doesn’t feel like a chore, the way so many other people view exercise.

But right now? Totally feels like a chore. And my marathon training plan is my chore chart. I lace up my running shoes not because I want to run, but because Hal Higdon said I should do 5 miles that day. Or 8. Or 19. Whatever. He’s the expert.

So how have I been getting through it?

During Saturday’s 19 miles, I thought about two people who can’t run, to remind myself how lucky I am that I can. (Even if it doesn’t feel so lucky at the time.)

Vera is battling an injury, and has not been able to run for months. I know how hard it is for her, and how determined she is to run pain-free again. She would love to be able to drag herself through a 19-mile long run in the humidity, if it meant she could run.

Vera and I during the rainy Applefest Half Marathon last fall

I’ve mentioned many times that I’m running the Chicago Marathon on behalf of the American Cancer Society in memory of my uncle. He was a marathoner. He ran the Chicago Marathon many times. But he lost his battle to cancer in 2003. As hard as running is right now, it’s a zillion times better than fighting cancer. (That was the same mindset that got me to agree to chair a Relay For Life event [twice] for the ACS, and speak in front of hundreds of people.)

My uncle wrote his mile split times upside down on his bib while running! Chicago Marathon 1988

I also think about how happy I will be on October 7. I keep visualizing the very last stretch of the marathon, and crossing the finish line. I’ve worked this hard, I don’t just want to achieve that goal, I have to achieve it. I’m so close; I have to know what it feels like to be a marathoner. And it will be a feeling that for 28 years, I didn’t think was really possible. Actually, for 27 years, I didn’t even think about, period. I remember spectating some of Vera’s first marathons and thinking “why the heck would anyone do this??” I never once thought “I wonder what it would be like …” Nope, just “these people are crazy.”

But now I’m one of those crazy people and I am crazy enough to see this through to it’s crazy conclusion.