What have I done?

Yesterday I signed up to run in the 2012 Vermont City Marathon. Partly this was because I’m a professional rationalizer, and it helped me rationalize an enormous scoop of Christmas Nutella on cake for lunch. Nothing like the promise of very-far-off-in-the-future intensity to justify a few (hundred) extra calories, right?

But mostly I signed up because I had to. I’ve known I had to ever since last fall, when I developed iliotibial band syndrome from running and still wanted to run. Then one night after work I tripped on the way to my car, sprained my foot, and could barely walk for a month. During that time, I often hobbled into Montpelier’s Onion River Sports and loitered around the running gear, searching for anything that would make it so I could resume my predawn jaunts on the city streets. One woman caught me looking at a particular pair of sneakers and said, “Oh, I highly recommend those shoes. I’ve been using them for 15 years and I’d never think of switching brands.”

“Wow,” I replied. “Have you not had any injuries with them, then?”

“Heck no. I’m going in for knee surgery next week. This will be my fifth.”

Like this woman, I may not be the most qualified person to give advice about running. I’m kind of a mess. But I think I can provide a few insights that may be helpful to a prospective marathoner. Most important, I think, is this: don’t run if you hate it. Don’t think of it as a punishment for eating or a way to get ready for bikini season. Do it only if it’s fun.

Granted it’s not always going to be fun. But there are days, even in the middle of winter when it’s so cold that my fingers feel like icicles even after 6 miles, when I watch the sun rise over the Winooski and I just want to hug somebody. That’s how happy running makes me. And so why not take it to the limit and sign up for a marathon?

Mari Zagarins

When Mari isn't running, biking, hiking, or jumping-jacking in and around her home in Montpelier, she is practicing her facial expressions in the mirror and contemplating whether she should learn to swim.

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