Metric or Miles?

42.195For the first time ever, I will be running 42.195 when I head to Dusseldorf in about 10 days. Yes, I know it is the same as 26.2, but for the first time in my running experience, the course itself will be marked at each kilometer, rather than each mile. I said something to my husband today about this, pondering how this would play with my mind and thus my run on marathon day. After all, so much of marathon running is mental: how you are able to rise to the physical, emotional and mental challenge of the event. I’m physically trained and ready, and usually I am mentally trained and ready for these races. But what about this one, where my sense of distance will be off because I am not used to measuring the distance in kilometers.

Of course, it’s not the easiest conversion to make in your head when you are in the throes of the race, just trying to convince yourself to take the next step and the next and the next. Luckily, I’ll have my Garmin with me, set to measure in miles.

In all honesty, I’m not sure what this will do to my race day experience. Because a kilometer is much shorter than a mile, those kilometer signs will come more frequently. However, I will have to pass So. Many. More. of these signs before I see the finish line. What will happen when I get to the one marked 26? Clearly at that point, I will have a lot left in the tank…but will only just be through a bit more than half of the race. I should feel pretty fresh physically at that point still, but mentally? Will seeing that magic number of 26 evoke a sense of ‘shouldn’t I be finished?’ I’m probably not going to have quite that experience, but I can see where the different way to measure the distance might mess a bit with the mind in those later miles. I mean, KILOMETERS. Maybe the frequent postings of the distance will make the race seem faster because I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something on a more frequent basis. Hmmm.

Regardless, Dusseldorf has 42.195 km waiting for me on April 24th. And with it, I know there is a bit of an unknown factor – which I just consider ‘CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.’

Have you run a marathon that was measured in kilometers? Or miles (if you were used to kilometers)? Did it factor into a different experience? I’m interested to find out myself, but as always, hearing from others can help me be ready for this new and different challenge!

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One thought on “Metric or Miles?

  1. That’s always a fun quirk the first time you run a race in km, i’ve done a full and a half in Canada, and it is a different experience to see the kilometer markers fly-by. I did have a hard time adapting to the key milestones that i typically look for…10 miles, 13 miles, 16 miles, 20 miles etc but the reality is that you will be running off the garmin so you will know where you are at and your given pace. The only catch is if anything happens to the GPS, make sure you have some kind of backup plan just in case – this happened to me in Chicago but of course the markers are in miles and I had a temporary race split tattoo that I got from the expo on the inside of my arm, so as long as I had overall time, i was good. That, by the way, is something you will need in Chicago – your Garmin will be rendered useless in the first few miles. A European marathon sounds so awesome though…enjoy the taper!

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