Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So long, Folsom. I never even got to meet you.

I fully anticipated at some point or another eventually writing an entry that started something to the effect of “Well, I gave it a good try, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”

I thought about all the things I could say about quitters, like “Quitters are better off because they don’t have to go through all the months of training AND they don’t have to actually run 26.2 miles at the end of it all” or “At least I can use my shoes again next spring.”

Never in 1,000 years, would I have imagined that the marathon would be the one to quit on me.

Cancelled would be the more accurate term. Supposing I completed my nine-mile run to cap off last week’s training slate, I was going to hop on the computer and send off my entry fee this week.

However, my sister took a look at the marathon’s Web site the night before my nine-miler and informed me that the marathon had been cancelled because the Sacramento County parks department wouldn’t allow an event of that size to occupy its trails for an entire day.

My feelings ran the gamut from bitterness and disappointment to flat out relief.

I mean, hey, now I had the perfect excuse to back out of this silly endeavor, right?

I went through the Jack In the Box drive-thru and ordered a steak and egg breakfast burrito and a chocolate Oreo cookie milkshake to celebrate my marathon’s demise. 

“I just gained five pounds in two minutes,” I said to my marathon, ice cream and egg still dribbling down my chin. “What did you today? 

“Oh, that’s right, nothing. Quitter.”

Then I laughed maniacally, which scared my children, so I had to stop.

The marathon had no comment.

After a while, as my stomach began to ache, my feelings toward the marathon turned to pity.

The poor organizers were going to have to deal with hundreds of irate would-be runners who, like me, hadn’t previously decided yet if they were actually going to run the race, but now that it had been cancelled were quite sure they not only would have finished the entire thing, but probably would have won … easily.

Everyone would be demanding refunds, or at least T-shirts so they could brag to their friends later that they had indeed run the Folsom-to-Sacramento Marathon in 2010 in a time of just an hour and 13 minutes and no one would have been the wiser. Others would sue for emotional damages and gym fees resulting from the inevitable fast-food binging the cancellation caused.

It was about then the depression started to set in. What in the world was I going to blog about? How would I explain the lack of material to all four of my faithful readers?  Was I supposed to keep doing this for another year? 

I started looking for a replacement marathon within the same basic time frame.

This was doing more to discourage than to help. I remembered why I’d chosen the marathon I had.

See, I had a very specific set of requirements in whatever race I was going to run. We’re on a tight budget, so I needed it to be within about a three-hour drive, or less, from home and require no more than a two-night stay. 

I can’t in good conscience forgo church for a sporting event, not so much because church is so important in itself , but more because I believe there needs to be a designated time during every week committed solely to Jesus Christ and no other. I've found that if my week doesn't begin with a foundation on my Lord, it's probably not going end anywhere near Him. So, it was important to me that the marathon be on a Saturday.

Immediately, those two requirements had narrowed the list down to near zero. Which had made the Folsom race so ideal.

Another reason it had been so desirable was that it was on trails, meaning no cut-off times, and it was mostly on a downgrade through. In other words, a perfect marathon. For me.

So the gist of it is, I’m going to have to realign my goals. I can’t back out, because for as much as I joke about quitting, I’m just not ready to quit. My feet don’t hurt enough yet, and we all know there’s nothing funny or interesting about painless feet.

There are no marathons that fit my criteria in the next six months, but there is a dirt-trail half marathon in Pacifica (one of our favorite spots just outside of San Francisco) in late January. I’m tentatively making that my new target with the intention that I run a full marathon as soon as I can find a suitable one on a Saturday.  

Because of the new time table, there may not be much to write about in the coming weeks, but as soon as I have something to say, I’ll be back. 

For the record, this is a 20-mile week.

I am in week 4 of training for a marathon in, well, sometime in the next year. I have been running all year in preparation for this training and completed a 10K in June. This blog will serve as the lasting record of all of my steps, and mis-steps toward making that goal happen.