That's the question I get almost every time I tell a non-runner I'm going to run a marathon.
The short answer to that question is, "well, because I want to...it's something I've always wanted to do." But, as with everything else pertaining to me, it's more complicated than that.
There are a lot of "reasons" that have nothing to do with crossing off the next item on my "bucket-list". The main one is what running a 26 mile race will symbolize for me-going the distance. See, the thing is, I'm kind of lazy--in certain areas anyway (areas like exercise). I'd really rather not put forth 100% of my best effort for an extended period of time. And, I have been somewhat of a "when-the-going-gets-tough-I-quit" kind of person. (At least I was until my second husband left me...but, that's another blog! In fact, I think that will be my next topic on "Using 100 Words...", but I digress!)
I have quit on just about every long term goal I've ever set for myself. Well, let me back up on that statement...I've quit on just about every long term goal I've had. There's a subtle difference there. Many of my long term goals have been made because "it" was what was expected of me, or what would have made someone else happy with me. For instance, when I was in the sixth grade, my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him, "a teacher." He laughed and said that teachers didn't make enough money; I needed to be a doctor or lawyer. I told him that since I didn't like the sight of blood, I would be a lawyer. That made him very happy.
Now, let me say, I love the field of law. (No, I didn't go to law school...) I believe I would have done well in law school, and would have made a fine attorney. But it wasn't my true love. I continued to want to be a teacher....and still might decide to return to that some day. My point is, I set the goal, but not for myself. I think that's why so many long term goals I've set have not been actualized-they weren't really for me. The marathon goal is what I WANT to do-for me. Will it make my family proud? I sure hope so, but that's not why I'm doing it.
Another reason "going the distance" is important to me is because I've been known to be more of an "on-a-whim" kind of person. I decide quickly on things, and then usually quickly change my mind. (This is part of the reason my first marriage didn't work out-we only knew each other three months when we tied the knot.) The idea of something is usually much more appealing than the act of putting in the work to bring the idea to reality. Not only that, I DO NOT like any kind of pain. The way I see it, pain is an indicator to STOP doing whatever it is that is causing it in the first place. I'm pretty sure there will most likely be some soreness involved before this year is over. This is why I'm taking the snail's-pace approach and why I'm (hopefully) training slow enough to avoid injuries!!
For me, setting this goal is about pushing beyond some self-limiting behaviors I have, in the past, claimed as my own. Behaviors I have decided no longer fit me. It's about redefining who I am, without regard to what anyone else thinks or says is true about me. I know, you're probably thinking--all that psycho-babble wrapped up in a decision to run a marathon?? Well, in a word, yes!!
A marathon is a goal that has to be prepared for, trained for, pushed for, and, it's a goal that will have to be held on to when I don't feel like going out for a "long run" when it's raining, cold, hot, or I just want to sleep in. That's why it's called an endurance race. The way I have it figured, it will take me a good year to train properly for it, with several milestones on the way (5K, 10K, 10 mile and half-marathon). Setting a goal that will not be achieved for a whole year really involves a change in lifestyle.
In my mind, running this marathon will be an outward symbol of the me I've come to know on the inside--someone who CAN "go the distance".