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Where I fast forward 72 hours to my next marathon

by John on November 10th, 2011

In 72 hours, I’ll start. Left foot, right foot, left foot right foot.

My playlist hasn’t been set yet. My strategy will be the same as ever: just get to the end. Keep going.

Two years ago, if you had told me that I was staring down my third marathon, I’d truly have laughed at you. Two years ago, I was just starting to run. Two years ago, the act of running for five minutes without a break was a Herculean feat.

I still don’t know what bit me.

I can try to blame Chris McDougall and his book, Born to Run. I still remember listening to it as I trained for my first 5k, thinking that a 100 mile foot race was a simple act of fiction. He was going all Gonzo on me, interjecting something so far-fetched into what I thought was pure journalism. And then, I checked, and the Leadville 100 was a real race, and it had been run, and won, by aboriginal Mexicans. Somehow, knowing that, knowing that there were people who could train their bodies to run 100 miles in a single go . . . well, it triggered something in me.

But, that isn’t what made me this crazy mess that you all know & love. It lightened up a possibility.

It was a few months after Leila had joined us, and our family was, well, what our family is. I was worried about my job. I was worried about money. I was worried about a laundry list of things that any parent worries about (look for a post tomorrow to get a more comprehensive list). Simply, the voices in my head were driving me crazy.

The kids, and the wife, were napping, and I ran.

I ran for much longer than I should have . . . and I have absolutely no idea how far I went. I just went. At the start of that run, I went through the same thing I go through at the start of every run: “why am I doing this?,” “who is going to know or care if I just stop to walk for a minute,” “is my left hamstring feeling tighter than my right, should I stretch to check it out?” And then, those questions disappeared . . . taking most of those worries with them.

I have no idea how far I ran that day – it might have been 5 miles, it might have been 25. I know I came back later than I should have, because there were crying babies to needed to be fed & changed . . . but, in the time between I hit the edge of my driveway and when I opened the door, there was a true peace in my mind.

Somehow, those voices inside that nag & bother & worry were purified through sweat and heavy breathing. Forcing one foot after the other, I found peace.

The scene in Forrest Gump, where Forrest runs across the country, time and time again? It finally made sense . . . there is a clarity that I’ve only ever known through running. I’ve cycled past the point of exhaustion. I’ve had sex to the point where it felt that I had traveled to a different pane of existence. I’ve drank until I’ve forgotten who I was. I’ve meditated to the point where I could sense certainty. I’ve slept until my body said “you’ve had enough.” Never, in any of those instances, have I had the mental clarity that I get from a good run.

So, on Sunday, I’ll start. I’ll start slow & steady. And I’ll continue. And keep continuing.

My body has changed, a lot, in the past two years. I wonder what would have happened if I started running when I was at my thinnest (I’ve been about 50 pounds lighter than I am right now . . . and while I’d love to lose a little around the gut, I’m pretty damn happy with my body these days — I truly think I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been), because I know my current size doesn’t aid my endurance runs (especially going uphill . . . I need to remember what to expect at mile marker 18 of this one).

Compared to the miles I had under my belt for this run last year, I’m woefully unprepared. Yet, I feel much more confident. I’ve told myself, all along, that I wanted to train my body to the point where running a marathon was “just another run.” I can say that I can just up & run a half-marathon on a whim . . . and this is, well, it’s just two half-marathons back to back.

Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot . . . until I cross the finish line. Over the 26.2 miles, I know my worries (just as present now as they were back on that fateful day) will disappear. I know I’ll hurt. I know I’ll struggle. But I know I’ll continue.

In that concert that I need to play, following the run, we’re starting with the Russian Easter Overture – one of my favorite pieces . . . and I’m wondering if an all-classical play list might just be what I need for this one . . . because the “lost in a masterwork” feeling is pretty damn close to being “lost in a run.” And, yes, tATu’s “All the Things She Said” is a masterwork as far as I’m concerned.

What say you, dear readers . . . what do I need on my playlist?

  1. I don’t know. I haven’t gotten to where I can run without my C25K guru talking in my ears…

    But I’m not in the least concerned. You’ll figure it out. And make the rest of us look lazy while you’re doing it. 😉

    • Well, picture the C25k guru telling you “run” and then not saying anything again, ever (because, while I know there actually is an end, it’s not until I hit the “just a 5k left” that I actually start thinking about the end).

  2. I think the transition that I think a lot of runners go through is kind of funny. “I’ll never run a marathon” to “I’m running a marathon” to “I’m never running a marathon AGAIN!” to “Oh f***, I’m signed up for another marathon.” And another. And another, etc.

    Personally I don’t even think I really enjoy running about half of the time, but between having some much-needed time to turn my brain off (especially now that I’ve started using my iPod almost all the time again) and the ego trip that is finishing a marathon, I think it’s been a positive in my life. I’m even starting to have a little Boston envy…but I’m also pretty sure that would require WAAAAY more work than I want to put in. 🙂

    Have a great race and have fun on Sunday!

    My playlist is mostly cheesy punk songs…so I probably can’t help you there.

    • I truly love running – right up to the 10-15 mile mark. And then, yeah, it’s all about the rush of finishing what I had started . . . the running at that point sucks, but the finish is so very sweet.

      Two years ago, if you told me that I’d be running a marathon in 3 days, I’d have likely said “ok,” the future me wants to get one out of his system. That I’d be running multiple marathons just seemed out of the question back then.

    • I’m dealing with a bit of Boston envy myself . . . I chopped 1:30/mile from marathons 1-2, and I’m looking at another 1:30/mile from 2-3 . . . but that’s mostly just been conditioning (I walked for a good 6 miles in the first marathon, and then I walked from about 200 years before & after each of the rest stations in the second). To qualify for Boston, I’d actually have to “run faster,” and I don’t know if I truly have the desire to do the training I’d need to do to accomplish that.

      • I’m feeling a little under-prepared for Philly in two weeks, because my overall base mileage hasn’t been very good, but I know I can finish, at least, and I’m ok with or at least resigned to not improving much from my first one.

        If I do better with base mileage for my next one and pace myself smartly on race day, I think I can shave quite a lot of time off by not having to walk such a large amount of the last 5-6 miles (Tried to run/walk like a Galloway person, but definitely much more walking!)

        But yeah…though I’d love to run boston and it is calling to me, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t love the massive, massive speedwork I’d have to do to get down to 3:20ish and that it would probably make me hate running so much. After 5 years of it, I’m still learning where the line between “this is fun” and “ok, I’ve made it like another job” really is.

  3. how about this – say you average 7 minute miles. you could work it so that you playlist reminds you every 7 minutes what mile you’re on.

    1 mile – 1 by metallica
    2 miles – 2×2 by dylan
    3 miles – 3 is the magic number by blind melon (or give me 3 steps by skynyrd)
    4 miles – 4 sticks, zeppelin.

    you get the idea. though I imagine there are some tough numbers like 11, or 17, or 23, it might be a nice pace keeping device.

    OR, all Avril Lavigne. this way you’ll want the run to be over with as soon as possible.

    • Oh, fuck – no, seven minute miles would have me done before I got to the quarter-way mark. If the conditions are absolutely perfect, I’ll be running between 9:00 and 9:30 miles. More likely, I’ll be running between 9:30 and 10:00, which, while is slower than my goal time of 4:00:00 . . . I’m taking until the Spring to actually try to meet that for a marathon. This race, I’d be quite content with 4:25:00

    • Though, “25 or 6 to 4” would be a pretty awesome “almost there” song…

  4. I have no idea what you should put on your playlist but this post reminds me of why I want to start running again. The freedom from the thinking and worrying can be so peaceful. I need that in my life.

    • It’s a magical transformation, isn’t it – the only thing that matters is that you’re moving?

  5. You? Are a complete rock star!

    And I? Like angry chick music to run to. How would that work out? 🙂

    (Go you! I’m so impressed with and proud of you!)

  6. I asked for suggestions too for my marathon playlist and I took them. My favorite was OPP. I had not heard that song since college and I was laughing my ass off (and singing along) at mile 10.

    I’m with Galit – how about something from Alanis 🙂

  7. I’m so reassured to know that you 1) you only started running 2 years ago. I thought you were a life long runner, so therefore this running gig was easy for you, always. and 2)that you started with a 5K. I have grand plans. I just need to do IT. I’m a ‘wanna be’ runner. The idea is so wonderful. But the timing is so hard.

  8. I just started running 6 months ago and was running five days out of the week and then fall sports hit our house and it has trickled down to once a week, but I am committed to getting that number back up again. I find if I can get through that first five minutes without talking myself out of it I am good!

    I love The Warrior’s Code by DropKick Murphys and Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons and of course Adele (but I think she qualifies as angry chick music).

  9. I first read the title as, “Where I fast for 72 hours until my marathon” and I thought, “You have to FAST before a marathon, well there’s another reason I don’t like running!”

    Glad I reread it and straightened myself out. Sounds like you are mentally prepared. Hope it goes well! Good Luck!

    Popping over from Shell’s.

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