Why I Avoided the Marathon; as Seen Through The Eyes of My 3 Year Old

Libby sports her SFM cap and shirt at the Texas Independence Relay 2011.

I’m a planner. I’m a preparer. I’m an analyzer. I’m rarely spontaneous, and if I occasionally appear to be, it’s probably something that’s been on my mind for a while. So I’ve been running for 6 years.  In this time, I’ve learned a ton about running and about what works for me with my running. I’ve had one real injury (back in 2005), and I’ve had two babies (2007 & 2010), the first with a normal delivery resulting in a broken tailbone and the second via C-section to avoid another broken tailbone. I’ve completed 20 half marathons – in an accelerated fashion over the years. 1 half in 2005, 3 halfs in 2008, 8 halfs in 2009, 8 halfs in 2010. In 2010, I ran for the first time through a pregnancy, running strong up until 2 months before the birth, including my first 25K at 5 ½ months pregnant.

But I’ve always avoided the marathon. I thought it was because of my experience at a-3-Day Breast Cancer Walk back in 2005. I trained very well but during the 60 miles over 3 days, I found I didn’t have enough cartilage cushion in the ball of my feet and painfully finished the event with bad bruises across the bottoms of both feet.  Docs said I would have worn it away over time and it was just too thin for the impact of walking 60 miles so close together.  After that I didn’t want to prepare and prepare only to do a significant event and have bad memories after the fact.

Libby with daughter Marissa

For a while I’ve been thinking that maybe I was finally ready to do a marathon. I’ve learned how to train, I’m good about maintaining my running routine, and I’ve gathered lots of experience over time. I have a three-year old daughter named Marissa.  Not too long ago, her teacher made an interesting observation about her that perfectly summed up my little girl’s personality – and ironically had pegged me as well. “She knows how to do it, she’s smart enough. She just wants to watch someone else do the process so that when she does it, she does it… perfectly.  She wants to do it right the first time.” My gosh, I realized, in this respect, she really is JUST LIKE ME.

That’s it. That’s been my fear. That no matter how much training, sometimes it’s just not your race day, or in extreme weather conditions, it’s not anyone’s good race day. Race day is unpredictable. And I don’t just want to do the marathon, I want to do it well. I don’t want to be left in pain, or regretting it afterwards, or struggle. And with 26.2 miles, you just can’t promise that. I’ve been working hard to recover from having a baby and major abdominal surgery (C-section) about 3 1/2 months ago and succeeded in already running my first half marathon. So it’s time! Just gotta pull that trigger. As a San Francisco Marathon ambassador, the SF Marathon had been on my mind as a great first full marathon for a while, and I’m committing right now. July 31st, I will be running my first marathon.

Yes, it’s absurd to run a marathon just 9 months after having a baby. But it’s time to let go of doing things perfectly, and just go get it done.

I encourage you to follow me on my journey. I’ll be very honest about my anxiety and fears, while sharing my training workouts and tips as I progress. And I truly hope to see a lot of you at the finish line.

Libby Jones has been running for 5 years, is a self-described “serial half-marathoner”, but has never attempted the marathon distance. She is also an active part of the Dallas-Fort Worth running community.  She is the Founder and Race Director of the New Year’s Day Half Marathon in Allen, Texas; the Executive Race Director for Heels and Hills, a non-profit geared towards getting women fit and active; the North Texas State Representative for the Road Runners Club of America; past Dallas Running Club President & 2008 RRCA Scott Hamilton National Outstanding Club President Award Winner; and an RRCA-certified running coach. She’s also a wife to Steve and a mother to Marissa (3 yrs) and Sophie (3 1/2 months).  Read her blog “The Active Joe” and follow her on Twitter @libbyruns

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