There Ought to Be a Name For This

No crowds. No timing chip. No medal.  And no name, either.

When I used to think about training for an ultra, I always wondered:

What happens when you run the marathon distance in training? Are you then entitled to add another notch to your marathon count?

Having done it for the first time yesterday with a 27-miler (just over half the distance I’ll be running in June), I can say that it’s not the big deal I made it out to be.  When it’s a training run and not a race, it doesn’t take the mental—and physical—toll that is so deserving of the medal.

The run took me 4 hours and 25 minutes, and for almost the whole time, it was relaxing and easy.  I happened to glance at my watch when it read “3:09” and found my current level of exertion laughable compared to the battle I had been through at that point during my Boston-qualifying race.

No, this was not deserving of the title marathon.

Still, I feel today like I accomplished something special yesterday.  For the first time in my life, I ran a distance like that all on my own.  A normal Saturday, with none of the hoopla of a race.  Just me and my hydration vest, and several stops at the car for pitas with hummus.  And a whole lot of miles.

I wish there were a name for running a marathon-that-isn’t.

Maybe a Karnazes, as he does this every morning before he starts his day (and apocryphally eats whole pizzas and cheesecakes in the process).

Or maybe just a marathon-that-isn’t.  Or a n’arathon.  Any other ideas?

Making a Difference

A girl named Amanda (who’s also a runner, vegetarian, and member of the Air Force) emailed me the other day asking about t-shirt sizing.  But she also asked a question that really impacted me.

She asked what she could do to help.

Not to help me and my blog, but to help the cause.  She said she had been inspired by Brendan Brazier and me (how funny is that?) to be an athlete who chooses not to eat meat.

I wrote back that she could start a blog or perhaps run a race for a cause, maybe to help animals.  She emailed me back to say that she was already in the process of doing both.

Her blog is called The Year For Kindness, and there’s something special about it.

Why am I linking to a brand new blog that only has two posts up?

It’s not because she wrote about me.  (Though I’d be lying if I said that didn’t make me like it even more.)  It’s because her reason for starting the blog is so admirable.

She wants to help.

I encourage you to read Amanda’s first two posts.  They’re good reads, and they’ll inspire you.  It’s neat to see such optimism and excitement at the discovery of this lifestyle.

So many people want to do something, and so few people do.  Maybe it’s because people think new blogs will never get off the ground, or because they think their friends will make fun of them for wasting their time.  Maybe it’s the fear of failure.

When it’s about a cause you care about though, all of that goes out the window.  When you have a cause, you have a bunch of built-in fans, right from the start.  The others who support the cause.

If you’re worried about starting something to help this cause of running with a conscious diet, I encourage you to do it.  For whatever it’s worth, I’ll be on your side.



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  1. I’m so glad you posted about Amanda’s blog, she seems amazing.
    I still think ultramarathoners including you are mental. I can’t even fathom running more than 3 miles, the idea of running my half marathon in September. 13 miles, that is twice as long as my journey to work, and I take the tube to work.
    Congrats on your adorable son.

  2. How about coming up with a badge we could display on our blogs? I’m a no meat athlete and it would be great to get more of a sort of community feeling going!
    .-= AndrewENZ´s last blog ..My best long run yet =-.

    • Andrew, funny you mention that; I’ve been working on a community site for people like us. Your comment has given me motivation to stop being a perfectionist and just launch it already. (And great idea for a badge, I’ll get on that.)

      More info to come, hopefully this week.

  3. congrats on the ultra! off to go read Amanda’s blog…
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Newton Running Weeks 3+4 =-.

  4. Very cool! Amanda seems like one rockin girl!! Great job on the run. Do you ever just look back at your own running journey in awe? Do you wish you could give your past self pep talks? I think everyone does….knowing now what you can accomplish. Hope your Sunday is nice
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Everything but…and a Giveaway! =-.

    • Erica, that’s an interesting question. In some way, I feel like I’ve always had someone telling me “You’ll eventually get here.” I guess I just believed that with enough work there isn’t much that you can’t do. But having a little added certainty from future-me would have been nice.

  5. Wow, that made my month! 🙂 I got my No Meat Athlete t-shirt in the mail yesterday, and am definitely planning to wear it for my first marathon on May 16th. As for the name of your run…maybe solo-athon? Personally I think it’s even MORE amazing that you could run that kind of distance on your own, without the reward of cheering crowds or a medal at the end. There’s gotta be a special place for people who do marathons without being able to say they technically ran a marathon.
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Why I decided to become a vegetarian =-.

  6. Way to go in your unmarathon!
    I was actually thinking about much of the same things recently. I decided I want to do an ultra next spring, inspired by you, brazier, tim van orden, and all vegan athletes. I love showing people what a nutritionally sound plant based diet with proper training can do.
    For me, the scariest part of training for an ultra is running 30 miles by myself. i need to find some ultra runners near me/a friend who will bike it with me. or maybe it’s a fear that i will just conquer.
    I agree @AndrewENZ- a widget/community blog would be great. Organic Athlete and the Vega community have similar concepts.
    thank you for your inspiration!
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..Love for my Mother Earth =-.

    • Elizabeth, I’m so glad to hear you want to get into ultras! Speaking from only very minimal experience with my two 50K’s, I can say that it’s a very different type of test. But it has given me more confidence as a runner, since anything more than a marathon used to seem insane to me.

      Running 30 miles alone, yeah that does sound sort of daunting. But I can tell you that this wasn’t bad. I treated it like a normal long run, listened to my iPod, saw lots of people on the trail (even ran into my cousin and walked with her for a quarter mile or so). It didn’t feel lonely at all.

      Finally, like I wrote to Andrew, I have something in the works for a community site. It won’t be on No Meat Athlete, because I don’t want it to be “my” thing. I’ll let you guys know about it in a few days when it’s ready to go.

  7. tracey English says:

    So inspiring! Ive felt the same way, although I didnt complete a full marathon, but a half.

    Still, the feeling of running that distance on your own accord = priceless! 🙂

  8. May I just say that, even though I have been a vegetarian for almost 8 years, I always learn something new when reading your blog. It doesn’t even have to be about food or what to do when running, but I always realize something about myself that I kind of thought might be there but wasn’t fully convinced till reading one of your posts.

    When you said “When it’s about a cause you care about though, all of that goes out the window. When you have a cause, you have a bunch of built-in fans, right from the start. The others who support the cause.

    If you’re worried about starting something to help this cause of running with a conscious diet, I encourage you to do it. For whatever it’s worth, I’ll be on your side.” I realized I always knew people out there supported me – even the ones who don’t “know me” because we have the same goal in mind.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • Maria, that’s exactly why I was so happy to support you and your daughter in your race! Without really knowing you then, your enthusiasm for the cause made me want to be part of it.

  9. I just recently found your blog, but I’m so glad I did. I became a vegetarian in January (was doing a 30 day challenge and never looked back). I’m also a runner.

    I think you should call your run a Mauxthon. What do you think?
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..“Long” Run and Date Night =-.

    • Amanda, I like mauxthon. Sort of sounds like Mofo.

      Your blog name is similar to the slogan my ultra group has on the back of our shirts, except there’s a “to drink” in there somewhere…

  10. Congrats on your first marathon-training run!! That’s amazing. The longest I’ve done in training is 21 — I can’t imagine doing 27 solo. And yes, I think you’re entitled to add another notch in your marathon-belt. Because seriously, how many people can say: “oh yeah, I ran a marathon today for my training. no biggie.” 😉
    .-= Lauren (Health on the Run)´s last blog ..Banana Oatbran Pancakes (‘Banoatcakes’) =-.

  11. First off – congrats on your personal marathon! After years of toying with the idea I started having long bouts of going veg during the training for my first marathon last year. I noticed I was running faster and recovering quicker, the better I ate. This January I gave up meat completely and my fitness continued to improve. I found your site and after some heavy education (Food,Inc., Eating Animals, etc.) I decided to commit to it and see how it affected my marathon this year + recovery.

    Well, I just finished the Boston marathon in 3:37 (I was psyched) and felt great afterward. I high-fived the on-lookers along the way, cheered along with the crowd and my sis couldn’t believe it when I saw her at mile 25 and was yelling and waving and still looking strong! I attribute going veg (almost vegan actually as I’m lactose intolerant and don’t really like eggs) to my success and just want to say I think you’re doing a fantastic job.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Heal the world (and my legs!) =-.

  12. I must confess I have never run so long despite the fact I’ve been a runner since I was 10. Ok, maybe not a serious runner when I was so little, but still a runner. I remember how at the beginning running 10 minutes with my dog every morning seemed like a lot of effort, he he.

    Now I can run for more than 1h, and I would like to reach at least the 2h 😀 (running a whole marathon sounds too unrealistic for me for the moment u.u )

    It’s a pity that I have been suffering from shin splints since last month T.T

    And great for Amanda 😀 My reasons to start a blog were not completely altruistic. I did it as a way to improve my English language in the first place, but also to share my edible creations with the others, meet people with similar interests and show that vegan cooking is far from being dull or monotonous :))

    By the way, congrats for that marathon. I’m glad I found your blog 😀 Knowing about vegetarians is great. Knowing about vegetarian runners is even better 🙂
    .-= Ksenia´s last blog ..The end =-.

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