This isn't the first marathon I've attempted. In 2003 I dabbled with running the same race, but gave up in early summer when I decided to go back to school for my teaching certificate. I knew I had to work full time and I could either go to school full time or train for a marathon, but there wasn't time for both. I chose school and a new career and didn't think seriously about the marathon again until 2009 when a number of factors came together to make this the year.
First I lost 26 pounds (and counting) since May 2009. It's easier to carry fewer pounds through the miles and I wanted to do something to celebrate the weight loss. I feel better than I ever have before, which is all the more reason to do it now.
Another factor was quitting my job in October. Preparing for a marathon takes a massive amount of time, of which I suddenly had plenty.
Next, every fall the Free Press publishes the list of all the runners signed up for the race and prints a full page route map. I read this every year and wish I was among those listed, promising myself that someday I will be. In addition, the New York marathon is televised around the same time, as is the Ironman triathlon world championship. Watching these on tv isn't boring, but a huge inspiration and reminder that I can do something like that!
Also, I've been going through a bit of a 1/3 life crisis, in which it finally dawned on me that I'm not in my 20s anymore, I have a career I don't especially love, a masters degree I don't want, no house of my own, no kids, no man and no prospects. I wanted something positive to focus on, a major accomplishment of my own.
The biggest intangible, however, was the guy I was dating in the fall, who helped me realize I can do anything. Talking to him and hearing his positive attitude every day gave me renewed confidence in myself and in my ability to do great things, that I'm so much more than "just" a teacher or any other one-dimensional label I could give myself. I had visions of grandeur and he helped me see that yes, I can do anything I want. When we broke up, endorphins became my drug of choice and I was at the gym every day for weeks, cursing the YMCA for closing on Christmas. He pulled me out of that flatline and gave me the kick I needed to jump start my life. Everyone should have a cheerleader like this. "I wanted to fly. He made me feel like I could."