Where I fast forward 72 hours to my next marathon
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?