Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reliving the moment

Do you remember the exact moment you crossed the finish line of your first marathon? Can you remember how much it hurt at Mile 23? Does your right quad nearly cramp up when you relive that last big climb before the stretch to the Finish line?

I sure do. I bet I'm not alone, either.

This January will mark the 5th anniversary of my first marathon. I probably wouldn't have really even thought much about it were it not for a friend of mine at work who just ran his first marathon last weekend. We've talked several different times during his training cycle, so I knew he was working hard at preparing for the race, yet I also knew that he really had NO idea what to expect from his first excursion into 26.2 miles of suffering and misery. 

That realization reminded me of the excitement, confusion, eagerness, fear, relief, disbelief and utter exhaustion that my marathon of five years ago brought into full view on a Sunday morning in January of 2005. I wonder how much of those memories shapes us as runners, even today. What I mean is "Am I chasing after that same kind of fulfillment still today?" Having put in the hours and miles and hours and miles of training, WHAT propels me even now to "chase the race"?

I guess for me it comes down to being a very goal-driven guy. You can ask my wife, she'll attest to the fact that if I don't have a marathon scheduled, registered and in sight, my running won't be very consistent. I don't know why exactly, but I do know that I envy alot of my fellow athletes that are out on the road every day with zero training goals in mind. They just run for the sheer joy of running.

I really envy that, and I hope I get there someday.

I'm not there yet, though.

For me, I absolutely LOVE to race. I love the challenge of training hard, working hard, and just following the plan. That's easy to me. No concentration; just follow the plan. It only requires the discipline needed to "just do it". Race day is addictive to me. I get so pumped standing at the start line, I just want it to be like that forever. It's the point of what I call "uneducated, optimistic obliviousness". At that starting line, I'm completely convinced that I will reach my goal performance that day. I'm absolutely certain that I will nail my mile splits every single time. I am 100% sure that my fueling and hydration plan will do exactly what I want it to.

Completely oblivious to the hand that "uncontrollable" factors can have on my day.

But isn't that part of the mystique and allure of the marathon? Staring a tremendously challenging objective in the eye and trying to convince yourself that your hard work will prove to be enough to conquer the 26.2 miles? It is to me, and I bet it is to you as well.

Then again, I may just be a goofball... :)


  1. I run for the sheer joy of it although I still have many race goals I go for each year. The difference is that I've been running for 29 years and my 1st marathon was in February 1985. I do still remember the last part and the finish of that marathon.

  2. I think I know the pain I'm in for...My first marathon will come after a 5K on Friday and a Half on Saturday. See, I'm Dopey - I decide to do my first marathon as part of the Goofy Challenge and I'm nervous as can be about it.

    Having done quite a few other races though, I know the pain I will face and I suppose it's one of the reasons that I keep doing them. It's overcoming that pain and finishing that pushes me forward.

  3. Don't worry about it Amanda, you will absolutely complete the marathon on Sunday and wear that Goofy medal with pride!

    I ran the Goofy back in 08 and we will be down for the marathon this January, so we'll be on the course together :)

  4. I love love love this post! I am so similar to you in my thinking. I've been running since February of this year, and I couldn't do it and continue on without races planned. This weekend will finish off my goal of "First 6 marathons in 6 months" Yay! I already have all of 2011 planned out, too. Go figure. :)

    What a neat thing - your 5 year marathon anniversary coming up. Love it!