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Run a Marathon?! Why Would Anyone Want to Do That?
by Tzatzil LeMair on September 5th, 2017

And so, it began.

​Twenty years ago, this fall, I ran the New York City Marathon. It was my first time running 26.2 miles. There was a hurricane moving up the east coast dumping rain on us all day long, flooding the streets, blowing trash around and making street signs sway in the wind. Somewhere in the Bronx, with just a few miles to go, I clearly remember saying “Never again!” and “What was I thinking?” But stored right next to that memory, is also the uplifting sounds and sights of the crowds along Central Park South cheering us on that last stretch, and I am light as a feather, elated, sprinting across the finish line with my arms up in the air! And so, it began, my love-hate relationship with marathoning.

Over the past twenty years, I’ve heard myself say “This is my last marathon!” more times than I can count. Yet, I keep coming back for more. Most of the time I say that during the last six miles of the marathon, but that’s expected as I’m usually depleted, tired, sore, and slightly delusional by then. During the last six miles of a marathon is hard to recall the reasons you signed up in the first place.

In the months leading to the race, there are many moments that make you question the decision to train for a marathon, like when your alarm goes off at ungodly hours on weekends when everyone else is asleep, or the moment you step out into a cold rainy morning wearing nothing more than a singlet and shorts. There is a laundry list of reasons to hate running including black toe nails, chaffing, port-a-potties, energy gels, blisters, and of course…GRAVITY.

But, with all the complaining and whining, I keep signing up for marathons. What is it about running 26.2 miles that’s so enticing? I remember once at a gathering, I mentioned excitedly I was getting ready to run the NYC marathon. To my surprise the person replied, “Why would anyone want to do that?” I remember being put off by the question and not being able to give him a good answer, although I doubt he was expecting one. I probably listed many reasons why I loved running, like “it helps me stay in shape” and “it helps me clear my mind”, etc. but that didn’t address the question of why 26.2 miles.

Not everyone CAN run a marathon. Even if your doctor gives you the thumbs up and says you’re perfectly healthy, training for a marathon is hard. It requires discipline, dedication, drive and most importantly, grit. You will experience exhaustion, hunger, and you will feel pain. It will test your endurance, your will. It will keep you honest. You can’t fake it. There will be set backs and curve balls that will challenge your dedication, your drive. But because it is hard, the rewards will be all the sweeter. You will feel stronger, empowered, accomplished and elated every day you train. Sure, you’ll have ups and downs, but you’ll know you’re one step closer to achieving your goal. And when you cross the finish line and accomplish your goal, you will want to do it all over again.

So here I am 20 years later, waiting eagerly for registration to open for the 2018 Boston Marathon (It only took me 20 years to run a qualifying time!) I was a young 20 something girl when I ran my first marathon, and here I am, a young 40 something mom of 4, and I am just as excited as I was the day I lined up in central park to sign-up for the NYC marathon. And so, I revisit the question “Why would anyone want to do that?” and I know my answer now. Because I CAN.

Posted in Running    Tagged with New York City Marathon, Marathon Running, Marathon Training, Endurance Training, Running


Ardith - September 7th, 2017 at 4:48 PM
Happy Anniversary! You have inspired so many to run marathons and develop their own convulated relationships with the marathon and other endurance sports! Thank you!!!! Love the pics!
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