Nike Women's Marathon: Lucky 13

Not only is this the name of an amazing pizza place in Boise, but it’s my nickname for the upcoming Nike Women’s Marathon, a race in which I’ll compete this weekend. It’s hard to believe this is marathon #13 for me. After 4 Bostons, 2 New Yorks, Chicago, Salt Lake, Dublin, San Diego, Portland, and Marine Corps, now it’s time for San Francisco. Here are the answers to questions I frequently get asked:

It doesn’t get any easier. As much as I’d like to think marathons get easier with every attempt, they don’t. In fact, as a person gets older (which I was certain would never happen to me, but apparently it has), running takes its toll on the body. Things hurt a bit more than in the past, and it often takes longer to recover.

It’s always nerve-wracking. I keep thinking the day will come when I will walk up to the start line and be filled with excitement instead of nerves. But it just doesn’t happen. Running a marathon is a physical and mental battle, and I know I’ll be exhausted when it’s over. As Dena eloquently points out, the last 6.2 miles of any marathon is a crap shoot. You never know how you’re going to feel, so the anticipatory waiting game kills me. But I do try to say thanks at the start — after all, not everyone is blessed to be able to run.

Something always seems to happen. I got the flu 4 weeks before the Boston Marathon this spring and was as sick as a dog for two weeks. I woke up with a terrible sinus infection the day before the Boise 70.3 this summer. And yesterday, when I let my dogs outside, I caught my big toe beneath the door and ripped the nail and skin (not exactly a welcome accident four days before running 26 miles). But I guess life is about adversity – and how we deal with it. Not how we can avoid it.

You can’t control the weather. I’ve gotten pretty lucky with weather, all things considered. A headwind in Boston ’09 was probably the toughest. Last weekend, Bobbi dealt with heat and Stuart felt some raindrops, but fortunately, Fall is San Francisco’s summer. And the forecast for Sunday is sunny skies and a high of 69. PERFECT!

It’s chick time. I always get asked if my family watches my races. Not only has my spouse gotten tired of watching me run, but it can actually be stressful to make everyone else happy when you should really be taking care of yourself. And though my little boy is getting old enough to appreciate them now, it’s still an adventure to drag kids along a 26 mile course. So I use the weekend getaway to enjoy friends, revel in some time to myself and relax a little (if running 26 mile could actually be considered relaxing).

It’s an expensive habit. This is another reason why my family doesn’t always join me. Inevitably, I run these races in big cities where I can check out the sites and breathe in some cultural stimulation. Unfortunately, that also means a nice air fare, steep hotel bill and a few meals out (and we won’t even mention the expo).

I still forget things. After all those darn triathlons this summer, I keep telling myself I only have to remember what I need to run (as opposed to swim and bike, which is actually more laborious anyway). Why is it that I always forget something? I blame it on the nerves. To try to pre-empt this problem, I’m including a Melinda Marathon Checklist for all of you who may appreciate friendly reminders. Maybe your memory will be better than mine.

But it’s always fun! I look forward to meeting Elise, wish the Boise TNT runners all the best and can’t wait to greet the men in tuxes at the finish line! Oh…and that Tiffany necklace is sure going to look good.

Melinda Hinson