I want to run another marathon. Soon. I want to run a sub-4 marathon — only. Before Marine Corps this year, I was all gung ho about running them nonstop. I was on a high from Baltimore, which I PR’d and felt amazing. I thought, surely, I can just keep PRing. No way Jose.

2011 MCM taught me that a marathon will never be easy. It will never be something I can just sail through. And, though it was nice running without the pressure of a real time goal, it’s just not the same — and it’s slightly defeating. It’s a lot of physical, mental and spiritual energy to run a marathon — with a time goal or not. I decided I don’t want to make a habit of running lax marathons “just for fun.” This ain’t no 10k — and it never will be!

But, running them any other way is hard work. It’s dedication, it’s early Saturday mornings, it’s eating right, getting enough rest, giving up weekends, running on achy knees and blistered toes. It’s planning your life around your running and making that marathon your best friend for months and months. People get sick of hearing about it, friends get tired of your schedule being rearranged around it, and Facebook friends probably start rolling their eyes the third time you post a status update about a 20-miler.

Sorry Mom, couldn’t find my personal status with the 20-miler on it so I used yours!!!

 Oh yeah — and it’s money — lots of it. Hundred dollar entry fees, buying new shoes more often, stocking up on fuel, “needing” the latest seasonal running gear and of course you end  buying the extras too — like foam rollers and knee pads and ice packs and $30 padded socks and 4 different colors of Sweaty Bands and running gloves for warm, cool and freezing weather. Do you SEE the prices on this freakin’ Honolulu Marathon? This one, sadly, is NOT on my schedule anytime soon but someday it will be — and I’m going spend way too much money for it!

Is it worth it? If I’m going to do it, I want to do it well. There’s kind of a sadness after the marathon because you’ve trained so hard, worked for it for so long — and now you are just supposed to rest and let all that running muscle die a quick death? You have chill out and start all over again? Yeah, I guess so. It kind of feels like if I let it go now, I’ll NEVER get my sub-4 marathon! But, I know that’s not true. The journey is part of the experience, part of the learning, part of what we runners love about the marathon. To deprive myself of that part would be to cheat myself.

I thought of that while watching a video that Emily posted today about Matt Long, a New York firefighter and runner who was hit by a bus and had only a small chance to survive. Long story short, Matt not only survived — he came back, and thrived! This inspirational story (which I suggest you watch every second of below) hit  home. I thought about Matt starting from SCRATCH and making, doing it, living it. The thrill of the run, the sense of accomplishment and power and possibility contained within the marathon (and even shorter races), are inexplicable. And while a great time is nice, that’s not — in the end — what matters (unless you happen to be an elite running trying to win $50,000 :))

So, I’m thinking about Myrtle Beach on February 17th and I’m thinking about DC Rock n’ Roll a month later. I’m thinking about both and I’m thinking about neither. I’m thinking about doing the DC half but I know I’d be jealous come race day that I didn’t do the whole. But if I’m going to do it, I have to commit. I have do my long runs — in hotels, on lazy weekends, when I’m feeling only so-so. Because the next marathon needs to be a good one. For me, it’s never over — which is thrilling and exhausting. It’s motivating and though provoking. It’s a little scary every time you commit but also a lot amazing.

I’m just wondering if anyone else out there has had these feelings? I will run a 10k or a 5k for “fun” any day but even with those, I feel badly if I don’t try my very hardest or come in with a decent time. It feels like half-assing it and let’s be honest, that never feels good.

Stay tuned on the marathons. One WILL be coming your way, whether in the next few months or the next year. Actually, I just signed up to get email alerts on when I can sign up to try and get into New York for 2012. After reading Theodora & Ashley‘s recaps from this weekend, I am totally going for it!

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