This past Sunday I got all my long run gear together and headed out to Central Park in an attempt to conquer 18 miles. I got through one, and then I gave up. I was already drenched, nothing felt right, and mentally I think I’d given up before I even got to the top of my first hill. The humidity was between 75 and 80%, and the temperature, while not super high, was probably in the low to mid 80s, maybe the high 70s. It was miserable, and so was I.
By the time I got back home, I’d made up my mind: I would not be running the Marine Corps Marathon. A week ago, I’d decided that I could actually do it, that I wouldn’t have to drop out of the race after all, and that even though I would do it slowly, I would still run those 26.2 miles. At this point, I have no idea where I stand.
I originally registered for the MCM in 2010, but decided to defer my entry when I realized that running both the Marine Corps and the Philadelphia marathons was a bit ambitious. I’ve wanted to run this course for a long time: I grew up right outside of Washington, D.C., and running through that area means a lot to me. The idea of it makes me feel connected to my family, including my maternal grandparents, both of whom passed away in recent years. At this point, I’d say the race is more sentimentally significant to me than it is an athletic goal or achievement.
Between now and the marathon, I could potentially do long runs of 18, 20, and 18 again before beginning my taper. But none of that changes the fact that I’m probably pretty severely undertrained at this point. I know people who’ve gone into marathons without doing more than a 13-mile long run, but do I want to be one of those people? Could I be one of those people? Just because they exist doesn’t mean that my body can do the same thing.
I keep wondering what it is that made my training go south (and why it’s gone south more than once in the past few years), and I think that while part of it has to do with approaching the whole thing in the wrong way, a big part of it has to do with how much I am still struggling to fuel myself well and treat my body with the respect it deserves. Recognizing the role my eating disorder has played in the process of preparing for this and previous races makes me want to show it up by doing the marathon. Deep down, though, I know that that’s not really the way the problem needs to be addressed, let alone solved. At least I can take comfort in the fact that I have finally managed to identify how much of a negative effect my ED has on my running.
I guess what it boils down to is the fact that I have no idea what to do. Do I let myself off the hook, lay the idea of running the marathon to rest, and start focusing on training for the Philadelphia half-marathon in November? Or do I do what I can in the next few weeks, and show up at the starting line of the MCM fully understanding that I can always DNF if I have to, and that anything could happen? I don’t expect to PR, and I don’t even know that I’d expect not to take walking breaks. But I’d be putting myself at risk for injury, and possibly stressing myself out more than necessary. Honestly, I’m stumped.
Have you ever faced a situation like this? If you haven’t, what do you think you would do in this case?