Monday, May 9, 2011

Are marathons worth it?

Over at 3quarksdaily, I've written a reflective column on whether marathoning is worth all the time, money, and agony. Here's a snippet:

It's 10:00 on a beautiful Sunday morning in California. To my left is some of the most spectacular coastline America has to offer. I'm walking along a road on Point Lobos that is ordinarily packed with cars on days like this, but today, thanks in part to my $135 entry fee, the road has been closed to traffic.

There's only one problem: I should be running, not walking. Over the past year, I've spent hundreds of dollars on running gear and race entry fees. I've logged more than 1,600 miles training for this event, including nearly 1,000 miles in the past four months alone. I've lost over 35 pounds and steadily improved my speed and stamina. Why can't I make my body do what I've trained it to do?

Dozens of runners pass me on either side, each of them experiencing varying degrees of misery similar to my own. Most of them, like me, have traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to get here, spending $500, $1,000 or more to participate in this event, the Big Sur International Marathon. Like Boston, New York, Paris, and Berlin, Big Sur is a "destination marathon," a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is so beloved, many runners return year after year.

The race was run on May 1 this year, but Big Sur's 4,500 spots for marathoners had already sold out last October. Other races sell out even faster. This year's Boston Marathon, despite strict qualification standards, sold out in 8 hours. The 2011 Marine Corps Marathon, which tours the monuments of Washington, DC, sold out its 30,000 spots in 28 hours.

I've been bad about updating Mungerruns for the past few days, and this post was part of the reason (the other part was that I haven't been running much as I recover from Big Sur). I did have a good run yesterday, what I consider my first serious run since the marathon. The GPS details are below.

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