So I’m a marathoner now. As in, I finished a 26.2 mile race before the cut-off time. I didn’t feel strong or fast at all. And either I never hit the wall or the whole race was the wall. I’m inclined to think that the entire race was the wall.
One of the things that I’ve written about here before is the riskiness of hard work. It is terrifying to think that you can put in all the hard work and still fail. In the track and field olympic trials this past week, I saw this anguish again and again. Training so hard and missing by a hair seems tragic. Failure is painful. And yet, so much of what happens is outside of our control. At the trials it was hot for a few days and rainy for others. The weather alone can make or break a race…speaking of weather…
It was really hot and really humid on the day of the race. Not just 30% humidity which is apt to make whiny Coloradans complain about how muggy it is, but 80+ the entire race. It was bright sunshine with nary a cloud in the sky. Shade was non-existent.
I had known all week that it was going to be warmer than usual. Looking back, this might not have been the smartest choice of race for me. Sure I train at altitude, but that advantage was easily cancelled out by the heat and humidity. I trained from February-May. Basically, I ran through the winter for a summer race. We had a particularly cool spring which meant that I could count the days I’d run in temps over 70 degrees on one hand. And even if I had run in warmer temps, 70 in Colorado is unlike 70 in the Midwest. I have absolved myself of not preparing better. I don’t think there’s anything I could’ve done to prep for these race day conditions.
My time was slow, much slower than I thought it’d be. That was a disappointment. Training for a marathon is a time commitment, and while I hadn’t felt particularly strong or particularly fast this training cycle, nothing really prepared me for missing my A and B goals by that much. I still beat my C goal which was of course to finish on my own two feet.
But I am so proud that I did this. There aren’t many things that I do in my life that have such a clear goal and such a clear path to attaining that goal. It’s startlingly simple. I wanted to run 26.2 miles, so I spent months practicing to run 26.2 miles. In a summer of weddings and babies (both of which make me so happy), this was my way of celebrating myself and my life. If I ever change careers, get married, have kids, or somehow lose my health, I think I can look back on this experience and feel proud that I used this time wisely “to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.” I may not always have this kind of free time to train, and now I never have to wonder if I could’ve run a marathon. Already done.
I don’t feel triumphant the way I thought I would, but I feel a little glowy when I think about my race. It’s a quiet pride for myself and all those cold, early weekend mornings and all the days of rushing home from a full day’s work to change and get in 8 miles before it got too dark. I did it.