Running the Marathon; Is It Worth It?

It’s Wednesday and early tomorrow morning I fly out to Phoenix, Arizona to run the Phoenix Marathon on Saturday. This will be my fourth marathon and my second attempt to qualify for Boston. Unlike my failed attempt last year, I have kept this marathon on the down-low. I haven’t announced publicly on Facebook or mentioned much about my training to friends. The disappointment of last year’s attempt still stings just a little. I’ve trained well, my last three long runs were at marathon pace or better, yet I know those final miles of the marathon are the hardest. That is where everything can, and has for me, fallen apart.

Which brings me to this post; as I dropped my baby girl off at preschool this morning I wondered if running the marathon is worth it? I will be away from her for four full days; I have only spent one night away in her short three years and four months she’s been on this planet. She’s been at my past three marathons with me; my first one I was five months pregnant with her. But this year we live in Bend, OR and the cost of the entire family traveling to Phoenix just for me to run a marathon is unjustifiable. So I’m traveling alone, staying with my best friend and former training partner, Donna, for four days, and fly back on Sunday.

Our new home in Bend, OR; Gracie almost 3 years old.

Our new home in Bend, OR; Gracie almost 3 years old.

If I qualify for Boston I know it will have been worth it; all the months of training finally paying off. Even if I don’t qualify and still make a sub 4 hour I’ll be happy, taking 15 minutes off my personal best. But what happens if it turns out like last year and I have a miserable race? I know all about the power of positive thinking; I practice it every day and did so very much at last year’s race. Even though I came down with flu-like symptoms two days before I kept a positive approach, knowing I’d beat it or at least run through it. But the cold got the best of me and after mile 18 I was done.

I really did not expect to be so torn up about being away from my family for this long. I know they’ll be fine; it’s me that’s having the hard time! There are benefits; I get to spend some quality time with Donna and other former run club members I haven’t seen in months. I’m hoping time with them will distract me from thinking about time away from my baby girl. It’ll be great bonding time for daddy and daughter.

So in the end, I know it’ll all be worth it. I just need to have fun with this marathon; whether I finish in 3:40 or 4:15 – it’s not about the finish time that matters, it’s about the journey.

By |2016-11-21T17:42:27+00:00February 25th, 2015|My Training Journey, Running|8 Comments


  1. Robert lee February 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    One of the most frustrating rings for me in a 40 year running career is the dilettante runners fixation with the marathon distance.
    I think it’s because every time you walk into a store or anywhere out in public and people ask you about your sport, they ask. ” do you run the marathon?” Or. ” have you ever run the Boston marathon”?
    So, many runners in seeking some form of recognition or validity, run races in order to be able to say to non- runners that “yes, I have!”
    There are many distances as much fun to run than the marathon distance.
    In the Olympics the 5000, 10000 and steeple are ALL more interesting and exciting events.
    I wish for all weekend runners that they find the event and distance that they are most suited for and work to achieve in that.
    I wish for them to learn as I eventually did that there are many races within easy driving distance of your own home are as challenging and fulfilling as the Boston Marathon and support those races….

  2. Karen Barnett February 25, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you Robert and I too agree there are many more fun distances to run. I have always said I like short and fast! My true passion is triathlon. I got talked into running my first marathon and since have chased the sub 4 hour mark. Once I achieve that I’m back to short and fast!

  3. Danna February 25, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    You’re an inspiration to others and to your family, no matter what your time is. You disappointed yourself last year and you keep hitting it hard. Ask any athlete and they feel like they failed multiple times before they succeeded. Being a winner is about never giving up, not about the time on the clock. With that said, I know you’re gonna kill it at time and have a blast. Love you. xoxo

  4. Carla February 25, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Sounds like you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to have the perfect race. Relax and enjoy the weekend away. Don’t think of it as going away to run, think of it as a weekend away with a friend doing something that you enjoy (running) for you. That way, it’s a success no matter what. You need some time away for yourself. You’ll come back recharged and ready to enjoy your family even more. And kids love finishers medals, so it’s a good present for your daughter when you return. If you qualify, bonus! If you don’t, you’ve had a girls weekend away. My totally unsolicited advice. And no need to apologize or justify a distance, or race type. Sometimes it’s just about seeing if you can, more than anything.

  5. Angela February 25, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I understand your ambivalence completely! As much as I enjoy the training (and I do enjoy it, more than racing even), it is really hard to invest months of time and effort into one big goal race. It’s hard to put yourself out there (it makes me feel vulnerable) and it’s hard when it does not go as well as hoped. I traveled without my family to my last full marathon and it was difficult to leave them and to not have someone to meet me at the finish line. I’m glad you will have your friend and I look forward to celebrating with you at the finish line!!

  6. Karen Barnett February 25, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Thank you Danna! Love you too!

  7. Karen Barnett February 25, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you Carla! Very sound advice and I will take it. Yes, my girlfriend, Donna and I need this time together. It’s been hard on both of us training for this race without each other so this will be a huge reward. Thank you for the reminder!

  8. Karen Barnett February 25, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you Angela – I know you understand well the feeling of disappointment. I don’t know what is harder – not qualifying when you know you could have or to qualify only to find out not by enough to register. This will be a fun weekend regardless and I look forward to meeting you in person at the finish line as well!!

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