I’ve attempted and completed four marathons in my life. Each one has followed pretty much the same blueprint: a gradual buildup of mileage over a four-month span, doing the longest training run (20 miles) about three weeks before the race and tapering off in the final week leading up to the big day.
The first time I tried this, I wasn’t sure I could do it. The next three times, I was pretty sure. But every time, I knew it was going to take either a spring or summer’s worth of commitment, depending on the season of the marathon, to be ready on race day.
As such, I felt for those slated to run in Sunday’s Minneapolis Marathon — an event that was delayed an hour by storms and then ultimately canceled because of the threat of more bad weather (including lightning and flash flooding). I was scheduled to run as part of a four-man relay team, but our team name #RunningJoke should give a clue as to our level of dismay when things were called off. We made a quick detour to a breakfast spot instead, and life went on.
But those doing the full marathon or half-marathon … honestly, it’s tough to imagine how disappointing it must be to have months of training — and in some cases expensive flights and hotels — washed away because of Mother Nature.
A sampling of the dismay could be found on the race organizer’s Facebook page. A reasonable minority griped about communication efforts, which certainly could have been better. An initial e-mail at 5:30 a.m. said the race had been pushed back an hour and promised an update at 7 a.m., but no follow-up e-mail came.
Another handful of extremists wanted refunds (races are expensive to put on, even if they don’t happen) or heads to roll. Their angst did not dissipate as Sunday morning and early afternoon gradually improved into perfectly acceptable marathon weather. Still others thanked the organizers for not taking chances.
The majority sentiment, though, was the simple frustration of not being able to run a race that required months of training and at least some expense. Runners tend to be goal-oriented. They also tend to be creatures of habit. Unmet goals and an interruption of a plan made many of them cranky.
But the local running community will survive. Multiple nearby marathons, including Grandma’s in Duluth, have reopened registration to help accommodate those who couldn’t run Sunday. Grandma’s is open until midnight Monday.
Some runners even took off and ran the Minneapolis Marathon course Sunday morning, braving elements on their own that organizers weren’t willing to risk.
And even if many of the rest feel right now as if all that training was for nothing, the truth is it never is.