Okay, it's been a full month since I ran my first marathon. I've posted highlights, both good and bad, from my experience while the race was fresh in my mind, and now I've had plenty of time to let the full weight of the Marine Corps Marathon sink in to give some final thoughts on my MCM experience.
The most common question I've fielded since finishing MCM is "will you do another marathon?" That's been a tough question for me to answer. Physically, I am more than capable of completing the mileage again, and I'm honestly missing my training schedule. It was the first time I've really stuck to independent training, and now that I'm not doing anything structured or for a big goal, I've gotten a little lazy again. My monthly half marathon goal is still going strong so I have some running still on the schedule, but not as frequently or reliably as I had grown accustomed to all summer. Though I'd love to believe I can get myself into that kind of running again without a particular race goal, I know myself a little better than that. Weather and work schedule will most likely to continue providing convenient excuses until I have a concrete training goal - such as another marathon.
But the bits of bad taste in my mouth after my DC experience makes me wonder if I really want to deal with the sea of people that comes with a flashy headliner marathon, and I still wonder if a less hyped race will be downright boring for 26.2 miles after a race with as much pomp as the Marine Marathon. Every race is different, every runner's experience is different, and the next marathon might be all the things of which dreams are made... There's no way to know unless I pull the trigger and do another. Plus, I know I can run a marathon faster than I did in DC! So for the time being, the answer to whether I'll do another is a very heavy maybe.
I still can't believe, even a month later, that I actually was struck across the face by another runner. That moment is the single most prominent memory I have carried with me since the race. None of my runner friends can even wrap their heads around why on earth someone would slap another runner for a little accidental shoulder bump, and I can't either. For years now, I have thought the running community was basically full of the greatest people on the planet after all the positive experiences and connections I have made through racing. Sadly I now am noticing more and more negatives in the community. That's certainly not to say that all runners are bad now, but I DO seem to have had my eyes opened a little to notice runners who are not quite as amazing as others.
I've also been feeling underwhelmed by the feat of running, which used to seem like a huge accomplishment. Quite frankly, finishing a marathon didn't feel much different from finishing any other race. I kept thinking I was maybe just in shock and that the weight of the accomplishment would eventually settle; this has not yet happened and I am pretty sure it won't. I ran a race. It happened to be longer than my others. I don't feel special, I don't feel more accomplished... And I think this boils down to having a greater understanding of my own strength. Running used to be new and unusual, something I never thought I could really DO. Now, though, I run a half marathon every month. I do training runs of 18-20 miles on random Sunday nights. There's nothing new or exciting about the act of running anymore. I still enjoy it and don't feel "burnt out" from running by any means; I just don't feel like it's something noteworthy in my life anymore. It's just something that I do frequently.
Life goes on, even post-marathon. I learned some things about running, racing, and even race management from my experience, and of course I really did finish a marathon, so the race wasn't without positive takeaways. I suppose I had higher expectations for how I would feel afterwards and am a little frustrated with how blase I feel about the whole ordeal. I wanted this race to change me. Maybe it did and I haven't noticed yet. For that, only time will tell. Right now, though, I know that I'm not sure I'm satisfied. It's depressing to write this because I wanted so badly to be able to write about the revelations of marathon training and running - but I just can't. They weren't there for me, not in the way I had assumed. Running will continue (and I have my November half marathon recap coming up soon), goals will continue, training will continue, and blogging will continue (whenever there is time). Fitness is still my world, and has still done incredible things for my life. More incredible things are to come. It's time to move on from this experience and start looking for the next one!
What big event in your life proved to be underwhelming, or even downright disappointing? Do you think I have the marathon blues even now? How do you reinvigorate yourself after realizing you overhyped something?