Thursday, May 16, 2013

You Get to Celebrate Twice

A few years ago we had a semi-big celebration when I hit a century mark of running: 100 races of marathon length or longer. The year was 2010, and I had done 85 marathons and 15 ultras. I was careful to let everyone know about those precise numbers. But what happens, I asked Lou Karl, who was at the time well ahead of me in his count of marathons and ultras, when you hit 100 actual marathons? His answer was, naturally,  "you get to celebrate twice!"

So that's what I'll be doing when and if I complete the Cleveland Marathon this Sunday: I'll be celebrating the second time I've run 100 marathons; it will be my true hundredth marathon. I have also completed 21 ultras. As I'm fond of telling anyone who will listen, my first was also the very first Cleveland Marathon in 1978.

This will also be my last marathon. I've told enough people, so now I've decided to announce it here. My plan is to stay competitive, but to stay away from marathons, as well as most other large gatherings of runners. I've got nothing against marathons or crowds per se, but I just think it's time to move on to new challenges. New challenges such as getting better at shorter races, like 10K's and 10-milers; that sort of thing.

I'd been thinking about marathon retirement for quite some time, but the thing that put me over the edge was recent information about excessive running - especially marathons - actually becoming harmful to one's heart health. This TED Talks video sums it up nicely. John McCarroll and I have been exchanging this kind of information, and it got to me.

I do plan to never stop running. Just not quite so much.

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