Okay, what is this with the marathon?
Obviously someone, or a lot of "someones," have bought into the mystical outcome of running 42-plus kilometers at a single sitting. A bunch of well-intentioned book authors, such as (Olympian) Jeff Galloway, have written platitudes like, "to finish will leave you feeling like a champion and positively change your life."
I'm not buying it, personally. I've completed three marathons in the space of three decades. Like two-time Olympic marathon medalist Frank Shorter, the memory of the discomfort (pain, really) looms large in my mind. Not only of the 26 and a quarter miles on race day, but also the thousand miles before it. My first marathon was fun; I knew nothing about training and went into it completely as a babe in the woods. I ran on a scenic course. On the other hand, I learned a great deal about myself while training for the second and third ones; mostly that I am brittle and that I need to focus on one thing and one thing only during 18-to-24 weeks of run training. Obsessive-compulsives fare better than attention deficients when it comes to the marathon, in my humble opinion.
Marathon training is an exercise in (selfish!) time management, undertaken by those whom, in the words of my loving bride, "have plenty of days but too few hours to train." One of my Monday night companions registered for a race and has done little in the way of training outside of ten miles (maximum) a week, topped with gym workouts. The bright side is there's 20 weeks to build base before the gun fires. They must have read the counsel of (1976 Olympic marathoner) Don Kardong and chosen shoes over sense. There's no doubt they'll finish, but it might not be pretty in the slightest.
So go ahead, try it at least once if you feel the need to finish a marathon.
I have a short list of smaller races I recommend because of their accuracy, event and course quality, but when it comes to the first-time "participant marathoner" the large corporate events are tailor-made for them. Accurate course, plenty of spectator support, no lack of scenery and music to help when it comes to dissociating. 1980 Boston Marathon women's champion Jacqueline Gareau gave a good reason to dissociate, saying "the body does not want...to do this....It tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for the body."
So what's the secret to finishing? Gareau said it wasn't age or diet, but the will to succeed. Kardong's take was shoes were more important than brains, because "more people finish marathons with no brains than with no shoes."
I still haven't figured out the "why" of marathon participation, and I don't mind working with runners who feel the compulsion to do at least one. The challenge comes when it comes to choosing a plan of action and a place to execute. Brains are just as important as shoes when it comes to marathoning.