race lottery

The Lottery is Open

For the first time since 2004, the Marine Corps Marathon is using a lottery system for registration. As of today, the lottery is open, and will remain so until March 15 in order to give runners plenty of time to decide whether or not they want to throw their hats into the ring. It makes me sort of sad to see the MCM going the way of the lottery, since for a long time it was one of the few big marathons left that you could register for without having to qualify or get lucky. But given how hard it’s gotten to register in the past couple years, the move makes sense.

Photo on 2010-11-23 at 18.58

Post-race spoils in 2010.

I ran my last marathon in 2010, and it was a rough one. Since then, I’ve registered for them, but backed out of every single one. I can’t even remember anymore what I planned to do or when it was. I think the last time I signed up for a marathon was in 2012, when I planned to run the MCM. I grew up outside of Washington, so it’s a race I’ve always wanted to do. I got several weeks into my training and struggled through many a long run before I just sort of fell apart and realized that the race just wasn’t going to happen. With summer temperatures and the humidity, my running was just miserable. Mentally, I just wasn’t that into it. Ultimately, I decided not to do the race. I also decided I didn’t want to run marathons anymore. 

Fast forward a couple years, and I’ve once again experienced that desire to just hit the road and run until complete collapse (which, admittedly, would happen to me after roughly 8 miles at this point. But hey, that’s what training is for!). I’ve found myself missing the long runs, hour upon hour of putting one foot in front of the other. There’s something so pure and simple about training for and running a marathon, and the whole process leaves you with a feeling that you’ve been cleaned from the inside out. It scares me to say it, but I think I want to run another 26.2-mile race.

So when I heard that the MCM lottery was open, I went immediately to the website to find out more about the process. Here are some important facts: you’ve got 21 days to enter; you don’t pay any sort of fee until you register; race registration is $110, which is really reasonable given the cost of a lot of marathons. I almost entered immediately, but I stopped myself. I called it quits with marathons because they stopped being enjoyable. Instead of 16 weeks of highs and lows, the training period was just one long low. Runs would be preceded by tears and mental anguish. I never felt confident enough in myself to have any certainty that I would make it through my next long run. I got so wrapped up in the fear of failing that I put myself in a position where I couldn’t even try. I don’t want to go through all of that torture again.

What’s funny about all this is that if I enter the MCM lottery, there’s no guarantee that I’ll get in. I mean, that’s what makes it a lottery. But that hasn’t stopped me from getting nervous about it! If I enter and I do get in, there’s nothing keeping me from deciding not to register after all. And that hasn’t stopped me from getting nervous about it, either! Basically, I’m worrying about whether I should commit to the possibility of committing to running a race. I don’t think deciding whether or not to enter the lottery is supposed to be the hard part!

Fortunately, I have 21 days to think about this–three whole weeks to analyze the minute details of the pros and cons that accompany entering a race lottery to determine if you might get to register!

Hmm…Is it possible that I’m being a little silly about this?

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