Sunday, November 16, 2014

Easing into the Marathon

Today’s 4 mile run bought me to 1962.5 for the calendar year.  Slowly closing in on Truth or Consequences, NM, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help church on my virtual pilgrimage.  The pace at which I am approaching has slowed considerably as I taper and prepare for the marathon one week from today.  As I write this at just after 10 AM on a Sunday morning, given the 7 AM start time for the race next week, I expect to be finished almost exactly a week from now—to the minute.  If all goes well, I’ll finish shortly after 10:10.  My 3:10 would get me to 10:10, but, even though I will be in the first corral, I will not necessarily be immediately at the front of the race.  So, I’ll count on finishing a little after 10:10.

A few things since the last time I wrote that make me think of “easing” into the marathon.  First, I had an opportunity to network on Friday morning with a guy who is a fellow runner, a fellow Back on My Feet supporter, and someone who works in the online education industry.  We had a great discussion over coffee before either of us had to be at work first thing on Friday morning.  We were discussing running, blogging, social media, etc., and I commented that I used to journal a lot in high school and I blog a lot now.  And the more I run, the more I write—or at least the more I want to write (I don’t always have the time).  He commented that he thinks that each person should have both a fitness outlet and a creative outlet in their lives.  I realize how blessed I am to have a combination of those two working so closely in sync—since my blogging is mostly inspired by or written in concert with my running.  I really had not thought of it until recently.  What is it that goes on in my brain while I run that completely inspires my writing? I’ll have to see if there is any research on the idea of a strong tie between running (or exercise more generally) and creativity.   I wish I knew more—then I could channel it even better.  And I could use the combination of physical and creative energy to “ease” myself toward the marathon day.  Distractions from pressure.

Second, yesterday’s run was a great final “long” run before the marathon.  I put “long” in quotation marks because 10 miles seems long to just about anyone who is not used to running half marathons or marathons. But yesterday it was just an easy run.  Totally under control.  With miles that started at 8:07 and ended at 7:24.  Not always getting faster from one to the next but definitely negative splits, definitely finished strong, and definitely felt under control.  All of that is reassuring as I try to “ease” into the process of running the marathon next Sunday.  I say, “ease” although most people would not use “ease” or “easy” and marathon in the same sentence because I am trying to go in with a goal but not too intense of a focus on the goal.  If I focus too intensely I am almost certain I will fail as I put so much pressure on myself that I break in some way.  Instead, I am trying to go in “light” and “easy” so that I can just let the race happen, relying on having done all the right stuff to prepare, and see what occurs.  And if I have a friend to share most (if not all) of the race with that will put me one additional step ahead.  The energy that can come from just having someone to run stride for stride with me is pretty amazing sometimes.  No need for chatter.  No need for anything other than presence.

Finally, I received my bib number in an email on Friday evening.  The number is 607.  I looked for spiritual inspiration and found it.  That also helps to set my mind at ease a bit.  So, what did I find?  Well, with the numbers 6 and 7, I went to the first letter to Timothy.  1 Timothy 6:7 reads:

For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.

What does that say to me?  It is a reminder to use my gifts from God (strength, ambition, perseverance, and focus) and to give it my all. Leave nothing on the course.  Make sure that every last ounce of effort goes into the race.  Have no doubt when I’m done that I ran the fastest marathon I could on that day.  I cannot take any of the preparation and apply it to another race.  There are no other time proximal marathons.  I will not have the opportunity to dedicate this much time and effort to a race again any time soon.  I simply must make the most of this opportunity.  I came to running with little other than those gifts I listed—and love.  A love of the people I get in shape so I’ll be here longer for them.  A love of the sport that I share with other runners.  A love of the opportunity to share and gain strength and energy from others’ sharing.  A love that transcends and gives strength and brings peace to runners.  And when I am done, I can’t take anything with me.  Someday there will be no more races.  Someday this will all end.  And that is it.  So, since this may be the last marathon in which I compete with myself for another personal best and another goal I have never achieved before, I recognize that this is the time when I must not plan to take anything forward.  Give it my all.  Achieve.  Triumph. 

Of course, I realize that no matter what comes from running after this I have made an impression on others and I will take the lessons I have learned and the spiritual energy and stories I have accumulated into my future.  I will just not apply of any it to competitive running at this distance and this level any time soon.

So, with ease for the week ahead in mind, I plan to run my best and smartest marathon ever next Sunday.  And take the experience with me for a lifetime of wonder and amazement at the beauty and inspiration of running. 

For anyone interested, you can find the podcast here.  

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