I’ve been basking in the post 50th-marathon glow for a little over a week now. I’ve had time to reflect on my feelings about the race and my plans for the future, and I am so completely at peace. I am downright zen. For someone who is generally incapable of relaxing, this is a pretty big deal.
In case you could not tell from my race report, the 2015 Route 66 Marathon was likely my last marathon. I have been thinking about this off and on since my back surgery, but after the Spinx Marathon, I knew it was the right time. I was so worried about even running this last one at all, but ultimately I decided I had to try. Part of that decision came from the fact that I knew this would be the last one, so it was just a question of making it through one more.
Ultimately, there are two main issues: I’m limited in the amount of training I can do (my surgeon capped me at 3 running days per week), and the pain I’m experiencing during and after marathons has intensified. While I don’t necessarily mind training less, I know that it has contributed to feeling bad during races. There was a time when I could choose to take it easy during marathons and still cross the finish line feeling great, but those days are behind me now. Even taking it easy doesn’t feel good because the impact over the miles accumulates, and honestly? It makes it really, really hard to enjoy. I feel like I have reached the point of diminishing returns, where I’m not getting as much out of marathons as I used to.
How I felt in my last few races caused me to totally reevaluate my goal of running a marathon in each state. The whole point of beginning this journey was to see new places and enjoy running in them, so if I was no longer enjoying the running part, half of the purpose, for me, was gone. Contrary to what it might seem, I don’t like walking a lot in marathons. If I choose to because I’m having fun, that’s fine, but being forced to is a different story. I mentioned that to AJ – about how I felt like I wasn’t able to perform my best anymore and didn’t even have the option – and he said something to me that made a lot of sense.
“Danielle,” he said. “You know how you hate when once-great quarterbacks refuse to retire when their good days are clearly behind them? Their original team cuts them and they bounce from team to team hoping for that one last shot at glory? It hurts to watch, right? But so many of them do it because they don’t want to let go and don’t know what they’re going to do with themselves when they’re done playing football. Instead of retiring after they win the Super Bowl, they kind of limp off the field and people just shake their heads. You hate that, right?”
“Yeah,” I said. “For every John Elway that knows when to call it quits, there’s ten Brett Favres who don’t. It sucks, and it’s sad to watch.”
“Exactly,” he said. “So who are you going to be? John Elway, or Brett Favre?”
My husband has never run a marathon, but he knows me well, and nothing has ever made more sense to me than he did in that moment. That analogy put it all in perspective for me. I came to the conclusion that I do want to finish my tour of the states, but I plan on doing the final 13 states as half marathons. Ultimately, I decided that walking the majority of my final 13 marathons was not an option for me. It was not worth it to me to put myself through that amount of pain and damage to my body just to say I had run a marathon in every state. This way, I still get to travel, see new places, and run with my friends, but I’m doing it at a distance that makes my body and mind feel good now. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I don’t feel like I’m giving up on my goal or like I’m quitting – I feel like I am making the smart choice for my body and my life as it is now. The fact of the matter is that life happens, and we have to be adaptable. This is how I am choosing to adapt.
How do I know I’m making the right choice? Because I have not felt sad or nostalgic or remorseful for a single second since I crossed that finish line a little over a week ago. After happiness, the primary emotion I’ve experienced is relief. I have no doubt it is the right choice for me, and I am beyond thrilled that I ran my last marathon on such a high note. I couldn’t have written a better last marathon story if I tried, and I’m a pretty good writer if I do say so myself.
An unexpected side effect of running my final marathon has been a renewed sense of enthusiasm for this blog. I still plan on traveling with my friends, running fun races, and finishing the 50 states (albeit with half marathons), but I’m so excited now about how much fun it will be. I’m not dreading pain or worrying about how I will make it through training. I can’t wait to go on more awesome international adventures and share those with you. I’m excited to train hard for half marathons and test myself there. I’m ecstatic to continue sharing my life with you and striving every day to make life more interesting.
I’ve rarely been so at peace or resolved about anything, and one thing is for certain: I might be done but marathons, but T-Rex Runner is not going anywhere any time soon. But this guy? We’re training together for his first half marathon. Can you say video interview?