I received an email notification from the New York Road Runners telling me I qualified for automatic entry into the New York City marathon. Twenty minutes and about $130 later, I am all signed up and ready to run on November 4th -- 26.2 miles. 26.2 miles, an extremely long distance. As I went through the registration process I realized I was just beginning to endure a ten-month barrage of opportunities to spend money to heighten the race experience, brought to me by the considerate sponsors of the event eager to scream about every possible thing you can purchase: moisture-wicking shirts! Shorts made of nylon, rayon, and mesh! Special charity shoelaces! Bags no one needs! Pasta dinners!
I have begun looking around at training programs, too. There's one I can join through NYRR that costs only $7 a month! But that seems too expensive. There's also one by a person named "Hal Higdon" that is very well-reviewed among my friends, but Hal's website is straight up Geocities circa 1998. I should go look in the bookstore, too, as well as the 400 specialty running shops that spring up in Manhattan every time a Tastee-D-Lite whimpers to a close. My mom says I should get a physical immediately to determine if I'm healthy enough to even attempt this. Always the optimist, my mom. I was also realizing that I will actually have to change my lifestyle to get ready for this thing, especially in the final weeks: I have to run and exercise in precise, calibrated ways; I have to eat very deliberately, with a weird balance of protein and fiber and whatever else; and I have to develop that bizarre marathon physique where your cheeks sink in and you start to run oddly, because your entire midsection has dissolved into three tendons holding up your new rayon running shorts.
But the good thing is that all of this is still extremely hypothetical -- since I'm already running and in reasonably good shape I don't really need to begin training in earnest for a few months, maybe late spring. But we can look forward to plenty of blisters, shin splints, and dry heaves in the weeks and months to come.
But damn if I'm not going to rock this marathon on November 4th. It's good to know the goal.