As you may or may not know, I'm training for my first marathon in October. In my training, I've run two half-marathon distances, and signed up for my first half-marathon as well, which is in 2 weeks (eeeekk!).
I bought myself a 13.1 car magnet on Amazon.com, and when it came in the mail, I wondered whether I could put it on my car now. I mean, I have run 13.1 miles twice. But I haven't run a 13.1 mile race yet. I did decide to put the magnet on my car, but I googled it anyway to see whether you're supposed to run a real race first.
I didn't find out the answer to my question because of the baffling negativity toward people who run half marathons from runners and non-runners alike. People who run half marathons were referred to as "quitters" and "failures." People who placed 13.1 stickers on their cars were criticized even more harshly for bragging about only making it half-way. Here is a quote from a forum that I absolutely refuse to link to because I do not want it to get any more attention: "Putting those stickers on your car is the equivalent of putting one on that says "I was too much of a pussy to run the whole race."". Written by a non-runner btw.
I know that nobody (other than my mother) reads this blog, but this is just something I feel like I have to say.
Seeing 13.1 and 26.2 stickers on cars every single day while I shopped, sat in traffic, or drove to my running group inspired me to train for this marathon. The stickers showed me that people who run marathons and half-marathons are regular people who sit in rush hour traffic just like me; not super-humans to whom I could never relate nor aspire to be like. They brought the marathon back down to earth, and helped me to believe that I can do it too. I can honestly say that if I had not seen so many of these car stickers, the likelihood that I would be running a marathon this fall would be much, much slimmer. And once I complete the full marathon, I sure as hell will place a 26.2 sticker on my car.
Is it bragging? Yes, partially. I will be so proud of myself, and I'll want to sing it to the world. But I know that these stickers will also inspire people, like they did for me.
For what it's worth, I also see no reason why anyone should poo poo on other running distance stickers. 5k sticker? Great! Running a 5k is a completely different experience than a longer run, yes. But that doesn't mean that less effort is put into each minute. In a 5k race you run harder and faster the entire time, put in 100%, and leave the race feeling contentedly exhausted. I even saw a 0.5 sticker for a crossfit enthusiast, which I thought was fantastic and worthy of a brag. If you only had to run 0.5 mile, would you run it at a marathon pace? NO! You'd go balls to the walls, and put it in everything you had. About once per week, I will run one single mile as fast as I possibly can and leave it at that. Afterward I wheeze for half as long as it took to run the damn mile, barely able to move. I can imagine that if I was running half of that distance, I'd feel the same way when I was done; as thought I couldn't possibly take another step.
Don't be ashamed, and don't let the cyber-bullying-ass-hat-wearing-dick-cheeses of the world make you feel bad about yourself for the things you choose to do with your spare time or the stickers you choose to place on your car.
Let your freak flag fly, as they say. Let it fly.