January 25, 2014

The first step to China

A few weeks ago, I admitted that I had agreed to do something that I swore up and down I would never, ever do - run a marathon.  Amy and I will be running the Great Wall Marathon in China in 2015.  Is it too early to start panicking?

There's a bit more to it, though.  The Great Wall Marathon is supposedly one of the most difficult marathons in the world.  It's steep, the steps of the Great Wall are nowhere close to being an even height, it'll be hot and humid, and China is not winning any air quality awards.  We can't just waltz over the Pacific and make this our first 26.2-mile jaunt.  We'll die if we do that.

We realized we need to run a starter marathon as part of our training.

At this point, I'm really asking what the hell I've gotten myself into.  I went from swearing never to run this distance, and now I'm going to do it twice.  But I also said the same thing about running a 10-miler and running a half marathon.  I've done both of those twice now.  So somehow it seems fitting to do two marathons, too.  Something seems strangely appropriate about having done two of each, but that's probably me just making too big a deal out of the number 2. It doesn't matter, really.  What matters is that we have a LOT of running ahead of us in the next 1.5 years.

This isn't something we can prepare for last minute.  Too bad, because preparing for things last-minute is how I got through college.  But preparing to go to China is going to be much more fun than preparing for a thermodynamics test.  So last week, Amy and I started looking into domestic marathons in order to pick one for our starter.

After some Googling and putting a shameless plea for input on Facebook, we narrowed it down to three fall marathons - Portland, Richmond, and Philadelphia.

Portland:  I am dying to visit Portland.  I love the west coast, microbrews, and coffee.  I have the feeling that if I visited Portland, I would have to be dragged home kicking and screaming.  The race itself got fantastic press online, but the main draw for me was the location, itself. The only problem with it is that it's an expensive race, and getting out there and back will be much more expensive than getting to the other two races.

Richmond:  Richmond also got rave reviews online, and I have a few friends that have run this one.  The course falls partly along the James River, which is just lovely.  Richmond is just a pretty town, and I know some great people that live there.  But I lived in Richmond previously, and really, I'm kind of looking for an excuse to see someplace new.  Signing up for a race is a good excuse to see a new location, right? Right.

Philadelphia:  But of course, this one got great reviews, too.  One thing in particular that people kept mentioning was the immense crowd support for this race.  It sounds like the entire city comes out to cheer whether they know anyone running or not.  That's pretty sweet.  Also, I've never exactly seen Philly.  That's pretty embarassing given the fact that I've lived a mere 2 hours away for 8 years now.  I've done work at the airport there a number of times, but all that meant was that I took the train to the airport, worked at the airport, slept and ate at the airport hotel, and went straight back home.  I've never actually seen the city itself.

So which one did we pick?  Drum roll please....


Our first major milestone toward not dying in China will take us to the city of brotherly love for a nice, 26.2 mile stroll.  And of course, as part of our training for the Great Wall, we'll have to run up and down the Rocky Steps.  This also seems strangely appropriate, don't you think?


  1. You could take the Megabus up there! ;-)

  2. Apparently the Mayor is at the start and finish!

    1. We should kiss him when we run/walk/crawl past the finish line ;-)