Week 30: The thrill is gone

It was just one of those things
Just one of those crazy flings
One of those bells that now and then rings
It was one of those things

I'm sick of running.

Sick of thinking about running, talking about running, writing about running.

I'm sick of Saturdays sunk into mile upon mile of concrete and searing knee pain followed by headaches and fatigue.

I'm sick of being an enthusiast and a booster and a jock. I want my lazy, lethargic self-absorbed life back. I want to drink beer on Friday nights and sleep in on Saturdays. A girl can only suck in her gut for so long.

In a little more than 12 hours I'm supposed to be setting off on my longest run yet--a 26.2-mile pre-marathon marathon. It makes sense, training-wise. For non-athletic, completely non-elite runners like me, running a full-on marathon-length run before the actual marathon helps build confidence and condition the body for the real marathon.

It also makes me exhausted just thinking about it.

It was just one of those nights
Just one of those fabulous flights
A trip to the moon on gossamer wings
It was one of those things

Today I went to my local running store and geared up for the big run. I bought some body glide to prevent chafing, some gooey goo to down for energy every hour or so and a "fuel belt" to transport the goo for the long haul.

I thought that being in the running store, with its walls covered in shirts and medals from runs conquered, would shake me out of my anti-run blahs. I even ran into another marathoner who was cheerfully chatting with the sales girl about various optimal clothing options.

"Getting ready for tomorrow," she asked me giddily

"Yeah," I said, trying not to look sulky.

"We're so slow we need a lot of fuel," she said, grabbing twenty or so packs of goo.

We are slow, aren't we? I thought to myself as I realized that tomorrow I am going to be running for six, maybe seven hours.

Why hadn't I thought this through from the start? I have a month to go until the actual marathon and it would be ridiculous to quit now, but somehow it also seems ridiculous to continue with this seemingly endless training when there are so many other things that need to be done, that I could be doing during those six hours.

I could be playing Legos with my son, or taking my daughter to the mall to buy earrings for her friend's birthday. Or organizing my desk. Or working in the garden. Or working on my book. Or having an actual conversation with my husband that isn't rushed by work or bed time or chores. Isn't that what weekends are for? Why am I spending all this time running around in the streets of greater Los Angeles?

I've already run 23 miles. Isn't that close enough?

If we'd thought a bit about the end of it
When we started jumpin' town
We'd have been aware that our love affair
Was too hot not to cool down

The two-month delay in the date of the marathon hasn't helped. I started training in late September, and I've kept my momentum up fairly well. It's only been in the past couple of weeks that I've begun to feel enough already.

If the marathon had happened in early March, as it has most years in the past, I'd already have slung my medallion over my bulletin board and moved on. A sweet October-to-March dalliance with the world of organized sports, or as close to it as I'll ever get.

Instead I'm feeling the weight of a million obligations as I set aside yet another Saturday for, um, running. My husband, who treated me like an Olympic hero for the first few months of my training and wanted to know the mileage I'd traversed on each long run, is now mainly interested in knowing what time I'll be home.

So good-bye, dear, good-bye and amen
Here's hopin' we'll meet now and then
It was great fun
But it was just one of those things

With apologies to Cole Porter

3:08 PM Friday, April 24 2009 • Link •  
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