For some reason, it bugs me when a marathon is referred to as “26.2” miles since it’s a bit more than that. But I am bugged easily.

I posted on the Pigtails Flying blog about marathons from the fan’s perspective, commenting on Ryan Hall’s decision to bypass London and do Boston 2009. But I was asked when I planned on doing another marathon, and it got me thinking.

I’ve finished two marathons, NYC 1983 and 2006. (I started but did not finish NYC 1984.) I ran both tolerably well and in 2006 at least with some distinction (an age-group award). After toying with doing two in a year — London or Paris in the spring, New York in the fall — I was persuaded by my wife that that was a bad idea. In the end, for me at least that’s right. If it takes 24 weeks to prepare and 4 weeks to recover, there aren’t enough weeks in the year. Plus I don’t think I could handle the miles and miles. I recall 2007, when I was training for Reach the Beach, and dreaming about being able to have a Sunday without an obligatory run. This was the mental aspect of the training, and it became a drudgery.

But in 2007 I chose RTB over NY, deciding after doing both in 2006 that it’s too hard to do them both. I don’t see the point in racing when I can’t give it my best.

So 2008 was all about NY. During winter training in February, November 4 was in the back of my mind. As we all do, how will this run help me? Of course, I think that the increased mileage (increased for me, but not for a lot of runners who do far more than I) of several 2 hour runs of 17 miles or so significantly helped my spring racing, and I plan to do it again whether I do a marathon in 2009.

This begs the question. Will I do NY in 2009? Before the enjoyment and sense of accomplishment I got from 2006, when the marathon was a second-thought to a focus on training for RTB, suddenly turned me, someone who had not seriously thought about a marathon for over 20 years, into a marathon-obsessed fool. Poring over training books — Daniels or Pfitz? — and blogs. Focusing on the training and race-day mistakes made in 2006. Perhaps most bizarrely, making sure to look at 138th Street in the Bronx, the Course itself, each day going to and from work on MetroNorth (as I still do).

In 2008, I was on the edge of not being in shape. I missed a few weeks over the summer with knee and quad injuries, and ran some horrible, shorter races for the team. But I believed that I was over it and that I had enough time, just, to get in the requisite work before the race. The work necessary to be competitive, barring any setback. Then I had the accident and that ended that.

In 2009, I don’t know if I want to put in the work. It’s such a commitment that can lead nowhere. What if the weather is horrible? What if I get injured as race day approaches? Of course, that just happened, and I survived.

So I began by wondering when, and if, I’d run another marathon. I recall walking on Fifth Avenue just north of 90th Street. It’s a horrible hill. Starts at 110th and rises gradually until you turn into the Park at 90th. (It’s not quite as tough as the old days, when you’d turn into the Park at 102nd Street, right up a hill.) I had just passed my wife and sisters (my Facebook picture was taken there), and a block or so later, I stopped (for the second of three times). (My Race Report.) I distinctly recall telling myself I’d never do this again and chastising myself for trying something so foolish in the first place. I placed my hands over my face, close to tears. That five or ten seconds may have been the nadir of my running life. But it passed, and I started up again. Within, what, an hour of finishing I was determined to do it again and to do it right. Or righter. And became a marathon junkie.

So it’s a ways off and I have a ways to go with my elbow and lots can happen between now and then, but I think the next will be NYC 2009