I miss it, I look forward to embarking in the training again and I wish my body would allow me to do more of them. I love the distance, I love the challenge. I love competing against the most arduous competitor, that bitch that resides right inside of me and that will not give up. It’s hard to keep up with her, and that is my task each time.
It is not the first time I say the pain and excitement of the 26.2 miles remind me at a much lighter level of childbirth. I look forward to it, then I think of the pain I will not be able to escape and wish I could back out of it and I swear during it that I will not put myself through that again only to look at my medal later and say “Damn, I can’t wait to do it again”.
The marathon will threaten to defy me each time. It will enlist that chatter in my head that surfaces around 7 miles to tell me I won’t finish. Then at the half marathon it rapidly assesses my comfort level or lack of and reminds me I still have the same number of miles to go but I won’t be as fresh as when I started. Those are the difficult miles that pose the greatest risk of defeating me and during those miles I’ll attempt to win the battle of the wills.
I’ll remind myself I have run longer and felt better. I reiterate to my body that we have covered 20 miles a couple of times on tired legs and that now, I have rested, I have eaten and I have hydrated. I am ready and that voice that is telling me otherwise has zero value.
The voice is eventually defeated and leaves me alone as I enter the higher miles. Now it’s me and my body feeling the exhaustion of the distance and at times it might be me and my desire to continue, just me and my spirit, everything else gone.
I’ll feel better when I realize everyone around me is feeling the same way. I will thrive on some miles feeling the exuberance of the distance. I will rock to my music, and will joke with volunteers. I will tell myself I am now feeling good and I will vow to finish this way. I will forget that anything can happen in a marathon and that in a split second my confidence can be broken.Then I’ll enter the hard miles. The 23 and 24 window where physiologically my body is depleted of any fuel it had. The cramps I had kept at bay are starting to push harder threatening to break my stride. I will try to defy the fatigue, and I will win some, lose some. I will walk when I didn’t want to walk, and I will run and pass others I didn’t think I would pass.
I will get to that point at 24 where I will have to dig deep, deep down inside for some strength I didn’t know I had in me and I will continue; now my eyes focused and I barely smile or nod at the cheers on the sidewalks. I want to finish, I want out of here. I have come this far and now I want to be done.
25 will come and I will tell myself I can run a mile, but my legs will tell me otherwise. I will try again and succeed. I’ll see runners wrapped in shiny blankets cheering me on. I will continue because I know that the longer I stay, the longer it will be to finish and all I want is to cross that finish line and never do this again.
I have now crossed that finish line and my medal is beautiful. It wasn’t that bad after all. I wish I had been faster. Maybe if there is a next time. There will be a next time.