I have a lot of reasons to be concerned about this marathon. A lot.
There are those 2 1/2 to 3 months of training I lost this Spring when I was trying to diagnose just what the hell was going on with my leg, leaving me unable to run.
There was this summer’s stifling humidity that really forced our team to alter our workouts and killed a lot of our plans for tempo and long runs with quality.
There is the fact that some of my workouts this year have actually been SLOWER than when I did them last year, for reasons as yet to be determined.
There was my hopes that I would run significantly faster than my 1/2 marathon PR this August, during which I actually ran a minute plus slower (again, more an indicator of the weather we have been dealing with).
Then there was the last 15k road race where, again, I hoped to lay down a solid PR, of which I did, but not nearly as fast as I hoped or felt I was capable of doing.
Then finally, there is my projected goal time of 2:19:00 or less….of which it is going to take a seemingly super human effort to achieve. It is not at ALL lost on me that in order to run the US Olympic Marathon Trials “A” standard, I’m not only going to have to run a 1/2 marathon PR during the race….but I’m going to have to do it TWICE……BACK TO BACK. Am I being excessively worried in my concerns…I don’t think so.
The picture I paint is somewhat dismal, I know, but let’s get something straight here…I’m a distance runner and this is a marathon. I’ve trained and trained and trained for this goal time. Despite all the setbacks and unavoidable obstacles thrown into my path, I have never adjusted my goals and have continued to train for them through it all. That holds a lot of power if you ask me. And again, this is the marathon, which for those who understand, ANYTHING can happen. For better or worse. That distance is comprised of so many unknowns, both in the distance and within each individual runner, how we approach the effort and how we perform in the midst of it all. In the marathon, AMAZING THINGS CAN HAPPEN.
And this is the thing….distance running to me isn’t just something I do for my health. It isn’t something I do for “goals”. It isn’t something I do to “clear my head”. It isn’t something I do to pass the time. Distance running is what I do to HONOR EXISTENCE, to rail against the memes of passivity that flood our lives, to take every waking second of life and know that I’m making the most of it before those seconds run out.
At this extended moment in my life, distance running is my way of recognizing the temporary reality of my being and not giving in to the mundane routines that can come with that realization. It is about taking daydreams of absurd proportions and making them reality. It is about living in exclamation points. It is about living in exclamation points!
Every morning I wake up, I have the option to drag myself out of bed, drag myself to work, come home and quietly read the newspaper, surf the internet and give in to the comfort of routine and lack of effort. Or, every morning I have the option to drag myself out of bed (there’s not really another option there) and GO DO SOMETHING AMAZING. EVERY. DAY. At one point in my life that meant writing essays of hopeful importance. At another it meant contributing in some way to other’s lives. Yet another it was just being a good person. But now, it’s about a very physical reality, a very tangible effort at doing something amazing. Running, for me, has given me that opportunity EVERY SINGLE DAY. When I go and knock out no less than 1o miles a day, sometimes over 20 and at mile 18 feel myself getting faster and faster, I can’t help but realize that something AMAZING is taking place….even if it’s confined only to my reality. It is still amazing. And so every night I can go to bed with the comfort that at SOME point of the day, if even for only an hour or so, I made the most of my existence. I didn’t just stroll through the day, getting by, keeping my head down. No, I displayed huge typefaces on my shirt. I lived in exclamation points. I did something AMAZING.
And so we have the marathon and the long, slightly uphill path paved with concerns that lead all the way to this point. The starting line. Stacked against my confidence are so many of these concerns, working to erode my armor of effort I’ll carry onto the streets of Chicago. But, again, this is the marathon. And in the marathon AMAZING things happen. People run outside of themselves. They run beyond the abilities they thought their bodies housed. They find the will to run faster and faster despite the blanket of lead that seems to grow upon their bodies. They find a strength they didn’t think they had.
And sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the effort is too much or the margin of error too great. Sometimes, amazing things DON’T happen. But right now, that is neither here nor there.
Right now I’m going to the starting line of Chicago, putting aside all the concerns that brought me to this point and making the attempt to do one thing and one thing only….to DO SOMETHING AMAZING. I have yet to know how that is going to happen, how this is going to play out, what forces might influence this….but this is what I’m going to do.
Dear friends, marathon or not. Do something amazing every day.