I’m over halfway through my training for the 2011 NYC Marathon and as I think about training this year versus last year I realize how far I’ve come. Last year I was scared before every long run. Not just the morning of, but a few days before as well. I’d never run 14 miles, or 17 miles or 20 miles and I didn’t know what to expect. I knew NOTHING about running long distances. I had a good, solid training plan and was following it to the letter for fear that I wouldn’t finish and I’d let down all those people who’d sponsored me through TeamFox.
This year the long runs hurt, but they don’t scare me in the same way. I’d be lying to say there are no nerves at the start (and a few days before), but it’s not the same. This year I know I can do it because I did it last year. This year I know that although the training is hard and long, marathon day is awesome! The whole event is what makes it amazing. I swore during my training last summer that I was never going to do something this stupid again. I swore I was never going to run a marathon again. Then marathon day happened and I crossed that finish line and could honestly say that, “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.”
It wasn’t until the next day though that I thought about running again. The next day, after taking my daughter to school, I hopped on the train back into the city to go get my finisher’s medal engraved back at Tavern on the Green, where I’d finished the marathon the day before. As I walked (very slowly) the last half mile of the marathon back up the slight incline in Central Park to the finish, I was so proud. Over 6 months before I had very publically declared to everyone I knew that I was running the NYC Marathon. I’d done that so that I couldn’t back out. At that time I wasn’t so sure I could do it, but as I approached the finish line for the second time in two days there was no longer any doubt in my mind or anyone else’s. I’d finished the NYC Marathon on my own two feet and I’d loved every second of it.
That afternoon I registered for the lottery for 2011. I once again wanted to do something that seems so utterly insane and stupid from the outside looking in, but amazing and superbly gratifying from the inside. I wanted to push myself beyond what I ever thought was possible for the second year in a row.
As I run 17 miles this Sunday I know I will think about marathon day 2010 and will remember the faces of the spectators I passed who helped cheer me on to the end. Then I will imagine what marathon day 2011 will be like and that image will pull me through all 17 miles. There won’t be an official finisher’s medal at the end of this run, but when I finish I will imagine it’s there. Sometimes imagination helps more than reality!