So....here are my answers:
1. Cheryl Strayed's memoir, Wild, inspired me to seek peace of mind in the outdoors, in a personal challenge, in pushing myself beyond limits I had arbitrarily established for myself. Seeking solace in the months after her mother's death (and from a life that she wasn't proud to be living), Strayed set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. My version: do Sunday morning training runs to the top of Marrowbone Hill alone.
2. The second anniversary of Dad's death was November 5. The Bowling Green marathon was Sunday, November 4. I wanted to do something that I thought he would be proud of, something that required me to do for myself what he, sometimes vocally and sometimes merely by his own actions, always did for me: work harder than I thought I could.
3. I get bored. I like to have a project. My propensity for crazy thoughts is too strong. Thus, training kept me physically and mentally occupied.
4. I simply wanted to know if I could do it. I like to challenge myself.
5. I figured I would never be in better shape...kind of a "now or never" rationale. I also wanted to try something like this before I had a family and more important responsibilities than running for hours.
6. I was inspired by wonderful friends like Melissa Brown Holland who had done marathons before (and I won't lie: by "inspired," a part of me does mean "jealous of" and "too competitive to let others outdo me":))
7. We should do things that require discipline. We should do things that we really don't want to do. It strengthens character and necessitates perspective.
8. Fall is my favorite time of year to run and we've had beautiful weather the past couple of months. I didn't want to waste it by piddling indoors.
9. I don't feel guilty eating really delicious, but not necessarily healthy, food after 18 mile training runs.
10. I got to buy a neat little fanny pack, gel carbohydrate pouches, and a new turquoise running shirt.
This was something I simply wanted to do for myself and I'm glad I did it the way I did it. I didn't tell many people because I didn't want anyone to worry (my mom already thinks I should pack my stun gun when I run), or try to talk me out of it, or give me training tips/advice, or ask me about my time. Plus, I only signed up for the race about two months prior and I followed no particular training guide. I just had the attitude, "Well, I'll train as much as I can and if I feel ready, I'll do it. If not, I won't." I certainly didn't want to spout off a bunch of crap about signing up for a marathon and then not even do it. Finally, my only goal was to simply finish the thing without walking. And I did just that. I figured others really didn't need to know this.
So, that should cover the "Why?" question. I'll leave you with a few things I learned and/or was reminded of.
1. You can always do a little bit more. This might mean that you take a few more steps, or go an extra mile, or make it to the next road sign. Each time I ran, I refused to let myself do just what I had done the previous run. This is probably a pretty good general life philosophy; don't settle for "good enough."
2. The rationale, "If I can do 18 miles, I can do 26." isn't as solid as I thought. Miles 21-26 were a bitch.:)
3. If you don't put pressure on yourself (which I tend to do when training for races at which I expect myself to do well or when running with other people), running really can clear your mind and be a form of cheap therapy.
4. We live in a gorgeous area. Rather than drive, walk or run some of our back roads or even Hwy. 90 and I guarantee you'll find beautiful hillsides and fields you never noticed before. You'll appreciate the seasonal decorations on people's porches and the character of their barns. You'll take pictures of ponies, goats, and cows that you wish would magically say, "Pretty morning, huh, little lady?":)
5. Personal satisfaction and a sense of pride really are good for the soul.