Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 16 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Having imprudent running thoughts...

I found out about an inaugural marathon today. It's an inaugural marathon in nearby Minneapolis. Unfortunately, this inaugural marathon is scheduled for May 31st. I don't know why I'm so tempted to run this race, as it likely would be a really dumb thing to do! Perhaps one obvious reason is that it is the 'inaugural' running. It would be cool to be part of a marathon's first running, especially a marathon which has potential, based on the Twin Cities Marathon, for long-term success. Another reason may be that it will be run alongside the Mississippi River in Minneapolis--i.e. beautiful. And finally, I think I'm just getting impatient. I'm tired of running 17-18 miles, like I did today, for nothing other than training. I want to get to the marathon already!

It's a long process to get ready for a marathon, and at this point it's not all that fun. Racing would be a lot more fun! Besides, my thinking goes, I'm supposed to run 20 miles on May 31st anyway. Why not run those 20 miles in another race? Once I got to 20 miles, I could shuffle my way to the finish, collect my inaugural bling, and go home. Sounds simple enough, huh?

Of course, May 31st is only three weeks before my 'real' marathon, Grandma's. And I hope to qualify for Boston at Grandma's, a goal I will likely put in real jeopardy by running a marathon just 3 weeks prior. But then my brain thinks, "Oh, what the heck? How big a deal can three weeks make anyway? Maybe I'll qualify for Boston in Minneapolis!" I think my brain is getting too big for my head!! Perhaps I need some feedback regarding these imprudent thoughts. If I allow my brain to keep on a-runnin', I'm afraid I'll be running on May 31st! Any thoughts, anyone?


Anonymous said...

Etta -

It's Chris again. Listen, I've run nearly a dozen marathons myself and am always less than 4 weeks out from a race of some distance. Here's my advice:

You could certainly go for it and run the race 3 weeks out from your target race. However, HOWEVER, (I put in in caps for emphasis, so listen closely on this one) if you run the first race, do so as a long run only. Don't go out trying to mimic your target race pace. Hold back and focus on just getting the benefit of time on your feet. Use it as a long run, and then enter into the 3 week (or so) taper leading up to target race day.

Being part of an inaugural marathon is fantastic. I've done it a couple of times, and it's a great thing to be part of. I say go for it, but be smart about it and use it to augment your training, rather than getting lulled into trying to pull out a Deena Kastor-type race 3 weeks out...

I don't know much (just ask my wife), but I know marathon running, training and strategy. Trust me on this one, GO FOR IT!

Post your results and race report here if you do.


etta said...

Thank you so much, Chris, for you insight! Another monkey wrench, however... My 20-miler is scheduled for the week before this race. Still not sure what I will do, but I really appreciate your comments!

Anonymous said...

Etta - Not that you asked, ;), but here's what I would do to handle the 20 miler. What you described works perfectly into place for you to allow you to run that first race and experience the inaugural event. It's really worth it, and I encourage you to do it. Anyway, here's how to show up in race shape:

Replace the 20 miler one week prior to "Marathon 1" with a lesser intensity distance. I would say no farther than a 10-12 miler instead. Reduce your mileage for the next 5 days before "Marathon 1" by about 40-50% of normal.

Run "Marathon 1" and allow it to be your 20 miler leading up to your target race ("Marathon 2").

Honestly, for those training plans that incorporate 20 mile long runs, they typically happen at 3 weeks prior to the marathon anyway, so this would fit it perfectly for you.

(Taking the coaching hat off now... )



etta said...

Hey Chris, thanks again for the coaching--the hat looks good on you, by the way!
Just to clarify...are you suggesting I only run 20 miles of the first marathon, or do I run 20 and then take it easy from there to the finish? Of course, if I'm not going to finish, there isn't much incentive to paying $95 to run the race at all. Gosh races have sure gotten expensive!!

Anonymous said...

Close. I'm saying to use the first marathon AS your 20 miler for the 2nd (target) marathon. If you run the first marathon at a comfortable long-run pace, you will gain the adaptations that you benefit from the long run itself. Aside from that, you get to enjoy the marathon experience of the inaugural race, and essentially use it as a long run for marathon #2.

You're right that if you have any reservations about being able to keep your competitive spirit in check, don't do race #1. If marathon #2 is your target race, it's essential that you run marathon #1 conservatively. If you can force yourself to keep your pace in check, you'll have zero problem running and finsihing race #1, and you'll be able to show up at the starting line of race #2 ready to push the pace and run the race you want to run.

(You're right-races have gotten extremely expensive. I typically run about 3 or 4 marathons per year, and that typically equals about $650. That's an awful lot of money for a cheesy tshirt and a few bananas!)


SK said...

Apropos all this marathon talk, have you seen this documentary " The Spirit of the Marathon" that came out last year?


Anonymous said...

SK -

Yes, it's an awesome film. It really is. It really captures what I think is the biggest lure of the marathon distance (at least to me, anyway). The longing of this marathoners heart is to be a regular visitor to that special place during a marathon in which your body, mind and spirit have absolutely nothing left to give in the journey to 26.2 miles.

If you're not a runner, it's difficult to understand, but there is something addictive about getting to the place where everything is stripped away and the only thing you have to depend on is rock-ribbed determination and force of will.

It sounds masochistic, I know, but I once heard someone summarize it very poignantly when he said " will never know how far you can go until you cannot go any farther." Nothing truer than that.. :)


SK said...

Chris, very well put! And I love that quote. I liked the film even more because it is set around the Chicago marathon whose route passes along the street right next to my apartment. For a number of years now, I've watched with awe as runners of all ages and shapes make their way to the finish line.

I've never run in one myself but am sure as hell going to try now!

It's available on Netflix, for those who wish to watch it and have a membership.


Anonymous said...

SK -

You should absolutely go for it! I started running about 4 years ago and positively hated it to begin with. But then someone turned me onto a very good book about running for beginners (I'm including the Amazon link below) and it revolutionized the way I looked at the thing. After looking through that book, I found a simple training plan in the back of it that I followed...religiously. In 12 weeks, I could run 3 miles without stopping (albeit slowly:)) and I began to feel like a "runner".

Within a year or so, I started running local races such as 5k and 10k's. Not too long after that, I started to wonder if I could ever reach the kind of level to run a marathon.

Once again, I found a sensible training plan out on the web that mapped out my training for the next 4 months. Not long after that, I ran my first marathon.

That was nearly 4,700 miles ago and I can honestly say that it's part of me now. It gives me a spirit of thankfulness each day I step out on the road. It's God's daily reminder to me of how blessed I am to be able to move across this big blue bubble called Earth.

If I've piqued your curiosity, check out this book. It is written for non-runners, but will turn you into one somewhere between it's covers....

Good luck! You can absolutely do this...

(Etta - thanks for giving up some web space for my running proselytizing!!!)

SK said...


I have that book! :) Got it for free when I subscribed to Runner's World some months back. I am already a runner actually and run about 4-5 times a week. It's just that I've never run more than, say, 10k.

Keep telling myself that I ought to increase the distance and start thinking about doing a marathon or at least a half marathon, but have been putting it off for one reason or the other.

Also, I started some weight training recently and was concerned whether that and a marathon training regimen would gel together or not. Apparently I CAN do both.

But thanks a ton for your very detailed and inspiring reply. 4700 miles is something, isn't it!! That's almost NYC to LA and back to put it in perspective.

So I do consider myself a runner; now have to make the jump being a marathoner!


Anonymous said...

SK - Awesome news - You're closer to 26.2 than you realize. Find a good plan on the web and DO IT !!