Kate "The Mad Runner"Merrill

Marathon Maniacism:
Taking the Insanity to the Next Level

Well, the next notch on my belt has been completed.  I have joined the ranks of the officially crazy runners and am now a Marathon Maniac!   


The easiest way to qualify for admission to this insane asylum is to run 3 marathons in 3 months.  After my finish in Portland, Maine, I knew just what I had to do.  And I had an accomplice:  Marathon maniac #169, my online friend, Shell.

I never had much interest in the Seattle marathon due to its odd timing (the weekend after Thanksgiving) but new challenges call for sacrifice … from Rodney, my ever patient and supportive spouse.

So, after a big Thanksgiving feast with family, we hoof it up to Seattle to spend a quick 2 nights with a friend.  I meet my running buddy on a dark and stormy morning at a nearby Starbucks (of course) and off we go.

By the time the race starts, it’s still chilly, but the rain has stopped and we even see “sunny breaks” now and then during the race.  The plan is to run recovery pace for the first half, then kick it up by a min/mile for the second half.  This is a very gratifying strategy since for the entire final 13 miles we spend our time easily passing other runners left and right.  We make it look so easy!  And it was.  We had lots to talk about and the route was picturesque – it seemed like a simple 10 mile warm up.  Maniacs everywhere were waving at my maniac friend as we ran and all I could do was dream of the time I could join their ranks and be thought of as “normal” again.  We finish happy and with ease.  Two marathons in 2 months is a piece of cake!  I can’t wait to make it three in three.

So, 2 down, just one more to go.  I can almost feel the Marathon Maniacs singlet against my skin.  The Christmas Marathon south of Olympia is a veritable maniac gathering ground.  Yellow and Black singlets everywhere greet me.  The cold weather (20 degrees at the start) does not seem as inviting.  However, with my goal in mind, and the easy Seattle experience behind me, off I go into the chill and frost!

Luckily, I have Dick and Heidi, two very dear friends on my side. 




They meet and greet me along the way.  They flash signs encouragement- literally (“Go, Kate, GO!”  “You’re ALMOST a Maniac!”)

And ... they hang onto my jacket when I’m too hot.


They bring me warm gloves when I’m too cold.



They even ...

document my progress on video.

This race seems somewhat harder at the beginning.  In the middle I’m downright tired.  After 20 miles I’m really, really tired.  But, the negative splits pacing strategy at least gives me something to think about while I’m trying to make my way back tot the finish line.

I run down and pass a few people here and there.  I contemplate stopping and walking.  But, then I realize that the only way to get to the end is to…get to the end. If I walk it just takes longer and probably won’t really feel much better.  My cavalier attitude that “3 in 3” is no big accomplishment  melts away along with my strength.

Finally the end is in sight and, as usual, a final burst of energy drags me over the finish line, complete with my own cheering section and banners “U R a Maniac!” The ALMOST is crossed out. I am officially crazy and all the other crazies welcome me into their runners' asylum.  I happily enter.

Well now.

What’s better than a streak of accomplishments three months long?  Well, keeping that streak going, of course!

On my way to another 50 mile race in April, what’s more "natural" than monthly training runs which happen to be races? 

So, now I have three 50K races scheduled one each for the months of January, February and March 2006. Long training runs supported by aid stations so I don’t have to go it alone nor carry all my own equipment?  Yes!

I’m there!

January’s event is even better.  The tail 50K ultra starts at 3PM.  You guessed it, running on trail, in the winter mud and cold and  in the dark!!  True running bliss.  And Manic #169, Shell will be there to do it with me.  The details will follow here as they unfold.

Until then I bask in the warm glow of my maniacism.

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