THE FORK IN THE ROAD

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost

Decisions, decisions.

Decisions, decisions.

On Sunday I’m running the OC Marathon/Half Marathon. Two different distances. So, which one am I doing?

In 2013 I ran the half marathon; this year I’m running the full marathon (the whole 26.2 mile enchilada). Not my first full marathon (it’ll be number 7), but my first full marathon with this specific “wrinkle.”

This will be the first time I’m running a full marathon where there is the option of running a half marathon distance. When I ran the LA and Chicago marathons, it was 26.2 miles or bust.

The vast majority of runners in OC will be opting for the half marathon distance.

Last year, less than 16% of the runners selected the full marathon, while a whopping 84% chose to pound pavement for 13.1 miles (I was one of ’em).

It’s just made me think about something new (to me) that I’ll face on Sunday…

THE FORK IN THE ROAD.

Hmmm.

Hmmm.

Yup, at approximately mile 12, I’ll encounter the sign that reads “Half Marathon Keep Left. Full Marathon Keep Right.”

I remember at Long Beach 2013 when I encountered the half marathon/marathon fork at mile 12. I was pushing my pace, feeling the burn, fighting through exhaustion and quite happy to be turning left.

Okay, in my mind it came across more like “Thank freakin’ god and all that is wonderful that I’m going left and not right.”

But this time, I’ll be keeping right.

Now it may not seem like a big deal, but as runners know there is a substantial “mental” component when it comes to racing.

We’re used to hearing the voices in our head, especially the one that says “take it easy.” We do our best to tell it to screw off and mind its own business. But I can just imagine the conversation that’ll play out in my cabeza.

MIND: There’s the fork.

ME: I see it. We’re going right.

MIND: Let’s not be too hasty. You know there’s something to be said for going left. We’ve already run 12 miles. If we switch to the half marathon, we’re practically done. 

ME: We’re running the full marathon.

MIND: You know you could save things up for the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Full Marathon next month and really push it then. This could be a “training” run. How about that?

ME: Nope.

MIND: You saw that they’ve got a free beer when you cross the finish line. We could be celebrating “Happy Hour” in a matter of minutes if you just turn left.

ME: That beer will be waiting for me after 26.2 miles and it’ll taste even better then. No dice.

MIND: You really want to run for another 2 hours? It’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s going to hurt.

ME: I know.

MIND: You’re not going to win the race, you know. The lead runner is practically done. 

ME: I’m aware of that.

MIND: So why do it? 

ME: I’ve got something to prove.

MIND: To whom?

ME: To me.

MIND: Sure you’re not going to change your mind?

(I pass the sign… keeping to the right).

ME: I’m sure.

MIND: Sometimes I really hate you.

ME: Let’s talk about it over a beer. We’ll get one after we finish the marathon.

MIND: (Sarcastic) Very funny.

ME: Shh. I’m running.

Keep right… and Run on!

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Posted on May 1, 2014, in General, Humor, Motivation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Best of luck! I love the internal monologue 🙂

  2. Good Luck! Hopefully, your mind will keep quiet until after you’ve already committed to the fork. Then there’s no turning back.

    • Thanks… that’d be nice, but my mind does like to speak um, its mind. I enjoy writing out those “inner monologue” and people seem to respond well. I might have to do more of those.

  3. I’m sorry, there aren’t enough cinematic references in that internal monologue. 😉

    I’ll talk to you before Sunday…

  4. LOL!!! I don’t know why our minds do that to us!! That fork is a dangerous thing though, they should make the routes for the half and full completely different so there’s no temptation. 🙂

    • Yup, our minds to seem to enjoy tormenting us. I do like the idea of different courses for the half and full (or at least that don’t split off so far in). The San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Full/Half Marathons (my next race after OC) only shares a few miles between the half/full and it’s spread out over the whole run.

  5. Haha love your monologue! It’s too true. I ran the Wrightsville Beach half in March and was so happy to be able to turn while the marathoners kept going straight. My first marathon in October is also a half and full marathon. I know it will be a huge mental challenge. Good luck on Sunday!

    • Thanks very much. I’ve run plenty of halfs where they had the turn around for 10Ks and 5Ks. I’m usually like “I’m just warming up” when they have to turn. Oh, if only I can think that come Sunday. What race is your first full marathon in October?

      • I’m running the Towpath marathon in Ohio. It’s close to my parents house so that they can be there and it’s a very flat course. Those are the 2 main reasons I picked it even though no one has heard of it!

      • Something to be said for smaller, more intimate races. Bigger ones can be a bit more intimidating (and chaotic). And very cool that your folks can cheer you on. And you’ll certainly be happy it’s a flat course come mile 22. I look forward to reading about your prep for it and conquering your first (of what will most assuredly be many) full marathons.

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