Applications for the Team In Training Boston Marathon program come out tomorrow. Why do I know this?
Because I have a reminder on my calendar. And I also haven't deleted the email notice from Team In Training announcing the date.
I can't deny the lure of the Boston Marathon. I can only attribute these actions to a tiny seed that was planted two years ago when I watched my first Boston Marathon from a crowded corner at Boylston and Hereford - less than a mile from the finish line.
Totally inspired, I crossed the finish line at the Manchester Marathon seven months later.
When I crossed the 26.2 mark, I wasn't sure if I'd ever want to do another marathon. I could easily have checked that off life's list, right? It's a pretty big deal to go from a non-runner to a marathoner. No one ever expects you to run two marathons.
I mean, seriously, running a marathon is really hard. There's no way around it. The training is physically hard, filled with sore knees, tired legs, loose toenails and muscle knots.
But more than anything, it's incredibly time-consuming. To do it - to do it well - you have to commit literally hours and hours to running.
You have to commit to running in rain - or, for Boston, in the snow. And dark. And cold.
You have to commit to waking up early and almost entirely giving up your Saturday mornings. You have to commit to running when you plain just don't feel like it.
You have to schedule your life around running; rather than schedule your running around life.
Knowing what it takes, I'm not sure if I'm ready to commit to that again.
Then, I think about this past April, when I took my familiar spot at the final turn of the Boston Marathon - one of nearly a million spectators who lined the streets to cheer and support runners.
There's nothing like standing at that final turn, to see the pure emotion on the runners faces - joy, pain, relief, all of it. (Here's the post I wrote about Marathon Monday 2010.)
The cheers from the crowd gave me goosebumps - and even thinking about it now makes me smile a bit.
It makes me think of my first marathon - and the pride and complete sense of accomplishment I felt as I made the final turn. It makes me remember how I spontaneously decided to wave my hands in the air as I crossed the finish line, friends and family lining the street on the last few steps. (Check out my finish line video here.)
See? There I go again. Notice I called it my "first marathon"? That implies there might be a second? Must be that seed starting to sprout again.
The idea of running Boston is certainly firmly planted in there somewhere. Like a lot of runners I know, my only realistic way to get there is with a charity number. (There's no BQ in this gal's near future!)
That means, not only would I have the challenge of the training schedule and the 26.2-mile run ahead of me. I'd also have the task of raising nearly $4,000.
Sometimes the idea of fundraising is almost as daunting as the run itself.
When I think like that, I want to give myself a swift kick in the pants. After all, through my time as a mentor for the Team In Training program, I have spent many seasons (years, really) encouraging and supporting runners.
I've eased their fears, helped them with fundraising ideas, encouraged them and showed them that they can do this. They can train for a marathon. They can raise the money.
And they do. All of them.
Part of me thinks it's time to take on another fundraising challenge. I've given plenty of time and energy to TNT. But I know time and energy doesn't pay for cancer research.
There's also that part of me that fears regret more than anything. What if, in just one short year, I'm no longer able to run a marathon. What if the decision to run or not to run is no longer mine?
I've talked the talk. Now I just need to decide if I'm ready to walk the walk. Or, as the case may be, run the run.