I’ve decided I’m finally doing it.

I don’t want to write too much about it yet, as I’ll be fast turning into the all talk and no running type marathon runner. Yesterday I was supposed to be in San Francisco for the Nike Women’s Marathon, clearly that didn’t happen. As much as it was the right thing for me to do, I gained absolutely nothing by paying for entry and not showing up to race. Not cool.

I’ve been toying with taking on the big one for ages and ages and ages, but I think it was the poor preparation in the lead up to my last race that’s finally made me change my mind. Potentially that doesn’t make a whole load of sense, but instead of crossing the finish line and wanting never to do it again, I really wanted to do it again, but properly. I could’ve done so much better, and I need to prove to myself that I can do so much better.

So this time I am doing it properly. It’s still 24 weeks until the Paris marathon, just under six months. I already have my training plan up on the wall (it’s A1 sized!) – there’s 6 weeks of not running further than 5 miles, with lots of yoga, swimming and strengthening, before kicking into 18 weeks of the ‘proper’ marathon training. Last time, I was terrified by a plan that from the beginning was way beyond my ability. Paris’ plan starts off slowly, gradually building up to running consistently (consistency and doing it properly being one and the same thing). I’m scared of course, but this time I genuinely feel it’s achievable. The biggest problem I will have is actually doing it. Bit of an obvious statement, but I am easily led astray, both by myself and others. They’ll never be a better time to remember this…

I have finally made a decision. Once and for all.

After much talking, thinking, mind changing, convincing, panicking and talking some more, I finally sat down with my internet banking for a good old budgeting session. I do love a spreadsheet (I have them for money, meal planning, birthday lists, Christmas presents… see, I even like making lists of lists) and in the end, being practical has what it’s come down to. I could just shove it all on a credit card and deal with it later, but the meticulous planner in me just feels too uncomfortable.

So, 2014 will be my marathon year. It will be Brighton or London. I’ve got my place in Brighton, I’m in the ballot for London. Either way, in April, 26.2 miles will be mine.

But for now… #copenhagensooncome

A few weeks ago, I entered the ballot for the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. If I’m honest, I genuinely thought I had no chance of being successful. But then on Friday I found out that I got in. This terrifies me. It terrifies me to the point where I’m wondering whether this is something I should be doing.

Time for a good old list of pros and cons…

A LIST OF ALL THE REASONS I SHOULD NOT RUN NWM:

I don’t run that far
I ran one half marathon, 15 months ago. I haven’t run anything over 10k since. 26.2 miles seems like an unrealistic ask right now.

I think too much
I got all up in my head during GNR training last year, freaked out which then lead to me pulling out. Likelihood of freak out(s): high. Likelihood of tears: guaranteed.

I can’t afford it
My credit card is already weeping even without this. And with my job ending in 4 weeks and another yet to be lined up, I really shouldn’t be spending several hundred pounds on a transatlantic jolly (or torture, depending on your point of view).

Add in the fact I’m spending every non-working minute applying, chasing, prepping for interviews and then worrying about the outcome of interviews, I’m not sure I have time for any more stress.

It’s really far away
Distance wise. It’s unlikely that I’ll have a cheer squad (or even a cheer person singular) coming with me. 5360 miles is a long way to go on your own. Scary.

It’s really not that far away
Time wise. 16 weeks away. Yes, that’s the classic marathon training period, but there’s no time to mentally prepare (…actually, considering point 2 this is probably a good thing).

Okay, so that’s four pretty solid things that scare me about this here marathon situation I seem to have landed myself in.

A LIST OF ALL THE REASONS I SHOULD RUN NWM:

I get to go to San Francisco
I visited for 3 days in April 2010, loved it and have been longing to go back ever since.

I get to run a marathon
I said I wanted to do one, so surely time to put my money where my mouth is?

It might be a good distraction
As much as there’s an argument that this will be adding extra stress into my already in-a-bit-of-a-strange-place-at-the-moment head, there is a counter argument that this could provide a good amount of distraction and non-work related focus. I’m still on the fence as to which applies.

Because I can
This is probably the biggest thing that’s pushing me towards committing. Apart from a few minor niggles, I am completely fit and healthy.

On Thursday, my boyfriend, Stu, is going into hospital for surgery on a sporting knee injury that will see him bed/chair/flat bound and off work for several weeks. He then has several months of recovery and hard work to get back to full fitness. He loves keeping fit, is in the gym four times a week, runs a 40 minute 10k and is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

His injury is stopping him doing the things he loves. Him, and plenty of other people, would love an opportunity like this.

I don’t have that problem. The only thing keeping me from doing this is fear. And laziness. Oh, and debt. And a little bit more fear.

But really, I can do this. But does that mean I should?

I want to run a marathon. I know that much. I know I want to do it… but at some point. After the amazingness of mile 21, along with hearing some incredible stories at Write This Run this weekend, I’m wondering what’s still stopping me. I’m currently thinking about running a marathon a lot, and so far it’s something I’ve always maintained I was nowhere near ready for. But I still want to be in that club, I want to go on that journey.

I have a serious problem of signing up for races (particularly half marathons) and then not doing them. Number of half marathons entered: five. Number of half marathons run: one. That is really quite shameful. I’ve made a promise to myself that I am not to do this anymore, and unless there is a genuine injury or accidental double booking (oops to entering The National Lottery Anniversary Run on the same weekend as a wedding in Norfolk), I will absolutely turn up to every race that I’ve paid my money for. There’s already a few.

So I’ve already begun to choose my races more wisely. And I know that training for a marathon is not to be taken lightly either. It’s deciding to sacrifice quite a lot for at least four months of my life. I found training for my first half very mentally difficult – way more than the actual running – and as much as I try for it not to be, I know a lot of the challenge I have with becoming a better/faster/stronger/more confident runner is all in my head. It’s the reason why, no matter how far I’m running, I’ll always take my travelcard – I’m never convinced I’ll make it all the way back again.

NWM SF

When I do decide to run a marathon I know that I’ll find it really quite hard. Of course I will – everyone does. But am I mentally strong enough? I can’t decide whether I can decide to do this for myself. I’m already in the ballot for VLM and come June I’ll be throwing my name in the hat for NWM in San Francisco too. If I get either (or both – ha!) of these, I’ll know it is meant to be. But the chances of getting a place in either of these races is slim, so then what? I’ve found myself on the Brighton Marathon website on more than one occasion over the last couple of weeks, but I can’t seem to enter myself. There’s a big, big difference between getting a ballot place (and therefore the marathon gods telling me this is my time) and me deciding for myself that this is my time.

I still don’t know what the answer is – for now I’ll just keep looking for a sign.