<![CDATA[Are the words “marathon” and “fun” oxymorons? I’m about to find out this Sunday when I participate in the City of Trees Marathon in my home-town of Boise: my running partner, Chris, posed the challenge on email yesterday just after I informed him I’d (finally!) signed up for the race. I usually don’t wait until six days prior to a race to comitt. Why so late? Injury. I’ve been dealing with pain in my left hip since the moment I crossed the finish line in Seattle back in June. Despite my attempts to rest the hip (and admittedly, I’m not so good at “rest”), the pain has prevailed. Last week I paid my friendly sports medicine doctor a visit to obtain clearance to run the 26-mile event. Medical diagnosis? ITBS – and if I can handle the pain, I’m not going make the injury any worse. Non-medical translation of the diagnosis: “Chris, I’m good to go.” Race selection. Last July, I posed the question – Fall Marathon, What’s Next? Most of the races I really wanted to run (e.g., New York, Chicago, St. George) were sold out. The choices left to me would have required hotel stays and air fares, despite their beauty and excitement. And that brings me to the next point. Budget. These darn races can get pricey, unless they happen to occur in a city in which I have friends. It feels a little selfish to spend the family vacation savings on another outing to go torture myself. Staying home to run a race means all I have to pay is the entry fee. And the toll it will take on my body, of course. Boston. During my entire training season, I wasn’t sure if I’d get into the 2012 Boston Marathon. Though I beat my qualifying time by 7 minutes, the qualifying rules for Boston have become more stringent. But I got accepted (YEAH!) two weeks ago, alleviating or even eradicating the necessity to best my pace in another race. Does my body really need the extra wear and tear given that I’ll be training through the winter? I’m not sure the excuse to taper adequately compensates. For the fun of it? To justify the miles, the pain and the quiet we’ll face in the smallest marathon I have ever run, I return to Chris’s challenge: “Let’s run and have fun.” Is it possible for a Type A overachiever to run a more relaxed pace? And even if the answer is yes, can a person really enjoy running 26 miles? I can’t say – in all the races and events in which I have ever competed over the years – that I’ve ever successfully silenced my “inner competitor” to relax and enjoy it. But there’s a first time for everything, so stay tuned.