I’m excited too, but the day-by-day countdown to NYC Marathon on their Facebook feed is really giving me the jitters.
This is about where it gets real.
As I write this it is October 6. Exactly one month from this morning I’ll be standing, or waiting –or maybe actually running– somewhere near, over, under, across the bridge pictured above starting into what will be the first few steps of a 42.2 klick adventure through the streets of New York City.
The NYC Marathon.
The bucket list race.
The thing I’ve been training for over the last ten years, most of the time not even realizing this is why I’ve logged nearly ten thousand klicks since I started this running-thing, this time-consuming, life-changing, body-breaking, soul-mashing hobby.
It’s getting quite real. Did I mention that already? Sorry. It’s hanging right out there, constantly reminding me with every waking moment, every moment that I’m not running, not training, not pushing my fitness to a level of absolute confidence where I feel with absolute certainty that I’m absolutely not going to collapse on a foot-pounded asphalt road somewhere in the bowels of Manhattan.
As much as I know –feel it in my gut with more certainty than most things I know– that I shouldn’t put all my hopes and fears into one single event, on one single day, in one awesome but just-a-place place… as much as I know that: I am.
It’s real. It’s this thing I gotta do. These miles I gotta run. Somehow. Anyhow. There. Then. Because.
Do you ever feel like you’re in over your head a little bit? I feel like I’m in over my head right now: not a lot over my head, and not a lot of the time. Not on good days. Not after a successful training run, or an unexpected tempo, or a purposeful moment of self-reflection and meditative introspection. But sometimes. Sometimes I look at the scope of this thing, the work involved leading up, the tens of thousands of other people who are probably monumentally more ready than I am and think…
This thing is getting very real.
There are, essentially, two weeks (counting today) until the end of 2015. Each year I set an annual goal for my distance. If this is a good practice or not, I can’t say; But it keeps me running, especially on a day like today. As I sit here in the cafe typing, on my Friday off, feeling the chill of the minus twenty air coming through the glass of the nearby window, I’m contemplating my goal. I’m contemplating that I have another forty klicks to run in the next two weeks in order to meet my goal. And I’m contemplating that I really need to find a way to do a run today –despite the weather. I think a deep, contemplative sigh would be appropriate here.
The march to a million-word-blog continues. I just noticed that my counter is just three thousand words shy of the big seven-digit roll-over! At least it will be with this post.
I last checked in on the Million Word Blog Countdown with 25k words to go. Now, today, it is less than 12K to go. I’m guess it will be sometime in September that the wordometer will tick over to seven digits.
On my way to a million words? I just noted that I passed the 975k word mark on my blog this evening. #itsthelittlethings & the #countdown is on!
Seventy thousand words might seem like a lot, but when you tend to be as blogging prolific as I’ve tended to be lately, that’s not much more than a four or five months of writing. That will be more so as some of my big writing efforts and challenges creep into view as the summer nears. So, here I am, March 14th and just a few words shy of nine hundred and thirty thousand words of drivel on this site. Have you read them all? Not likely, huh? I’m not even sure I have… at least not lately. So, how does one celebrate reaching yet another arbitrary milestone when it comes? How do I celebrate a million words on this blog? With fireworks? Or just a golf-clap?
Four weeks from right now I’ll be relaxing after four very dopey days of racing. #countdown #rundisney #dopeychallenge
So, this is what we did: as it turns out the training program calls for a sixteen klick race pace training run eight days before the main event. As it also turns out, the race course is (if you reeeeally stretch your imagination) a kinda-figure-eight shape, the intersection being both the start, the finish, and also a point bisecting one loop of roughly the first twenty-six kilometres and another loop of roughly the last sixteen kilometres. Get it?
Two loops: one twenty-six, the other sixteen… ish.
Photo of 2010 Intact Marathoners by Sangudo via Flickr w/ Creative Commons Attribution License
The point was simple: it is quite possible that confidence stems from familiarity. Yes, there is the fear inherent in knowing what awaits, but there is also a measure of calm that blossoms from NOT facing the unknown. We ran the second loop, weaving through the last sixteen klicks of the race course, a near-silent troupe of eight of us stoically facing the road and the knowledge of our inevitable trail on this exact asphalt in a (then) little over one week’s time. We purchased familiarity with an hour and a half of footfalls, and traced out our future path in our present minds. Confidence burst forth.
There are a mere five days until race day as I write these words. That confidence is a fickle thing, let me tell you. There are moments when I sit here thinking “bring it on.” And there are moments when I wonder silently to myself if I somehow, possibly, left my sanity on a park bench somewhere never to be seen again.
I don’t suffer alone. I lead a whole group of others on this funny little adventure, all of whom are probably far more prepared than I if for no other reason than –as one often does in these situations– I’ve been doing a lot of leading from behind, focusing on potential stragglers and running circles, sometimes literally, trying to keep the group entangled and together in our training.
one klick or forty-two, the first one is always a big one
Not to mention, I registered Claire for the one-klick kids race the evening before. She gets a shirt and a medal, and she has been talking about it with the same kind of nervous anticipation I’d previously only reserved for myself. She’s excited, but it will be her first race and one klick or forty-two, the first one is always a big one.
I have goals. Finishing times in my head. Plan ‘A’ and Plan ‘B’ and a loaf of other caveat-laden plans that redeem the effort all round. I can’t even begin to suggest where they land on the spectrum of realistic expectations to gross under-estimation, but I suspect I’m in for a surprise about just how wrong certain assumptions have been.
Trust the training, right?
The countdown on my daily photo project has all but began: after three-hundred and forty-some photos captured over the past eleven-plus months (is that enough numbers for you yet?) I have a mere three weeks left in this crazy-epic project.
I had indicated that I was inclined to keep going… and going… and going. But I’ve gotta tell you: I’m starting to hit a bit of an inspirational wall.
Maybe it’s the summer-toll: the heat, the never-ending mosquitos, the daily-grind followed by the notion of an impending and inevitable winter. (The Heat and Burn-Out Factor?)
Maybe it’s all the running: the better parts of my days now seem consumed by training and planning and hydrating and eating just-right. (The Exercising Too Much Factor?)
Maybe it’s the solitude: for the most part I seem to be doing most of what I’m doing here in a vacuum, self-indulging, and a complete lack of any sort of wider interest. (The Everyone’s One Facebook Factor?)
Maybe it’s the technology: I haven’t had much new in the way of equipment for over half a year now, save for some new phone camera apps. (The New Toy-Less Factor?)
Maybe it’s the way of myself: my attention span has never been very long for this type of thing, and a year into the adventure I’m looking at other things with a gleaming interest. (The Yearning for New Things Factor?)
Whatever it is, why-ever I feel this way, I’m actually finding myself plodding along for the last few photos. I mean, there are a couple big events looming: a trio of weekends, the annual Fringe Festival where I’ll be officially photographing once again (though probably for the last year, to be honest) and some short-range travel in the works for a few scattered days.
With only ten days until the race, we had our last clinic night tonight, wrapping things up with an eight kilometer tempo run (non-stop and fast, one step below a speed run) out on the long stretch of bike path just over in South Terwillegar.
I realize I haven’t updated the virtual run distance in a while, but for those who are curious as of tonight — counting from when I started this crazy training adventure back in March — I’ve racked up a total of 609 KM of cumulative klicks. Such a run, were that even possible in a single, mind-numbing, back-breaking race would take me from the corner near my house (that same corner where I general kick of most of my solo runs these days) down and South through Red Deer to Calgary, turning West, passing through Banff on Trans-Canada Highway One, jutting off into British Columbia, through the mountains past Golden and coming up on the quiet town of Revelstoke (where I should reach by the end of race day, if all goes well!) That’s about five or six hours worth of driving, for those more comfortable with that math, and no matter how you measure it a stupid and epic distance to cover in a short twenty weeks.
I’ll probably be aiming to double that number by the time Vegas rolls around. In fact, I’ll probably just state that now: before reaching the start line of the 2012 Las Vegas Half Marathon, I’d like to bring my half-marathon virtual training total up to whatever distance will drop me from our current house and back into into my old apartment in uptown Vancouver, a distance I’ll calculate someday soon and post here.
That said, for now? It’s time to concentrate on the upcoming race. Another post on that soon…
In the countdown to this humble little blog reaching the milestone of fifteen hundred entries, I thought I would spur some variety of articles to span the gap across that particular (and arbitrary) placeholder. As such, I’ve dipped back into the Big Huge Thesaurus Blog Idea Generator and compiled nine quasi-random topics below. Over the next few weeks, I’ll post an entry for each — though not necessarily in order. Enjoy.
1. Compare your family and friends to characters in your favorite novel.
7. List your top ten favourite books.
9. Write about coffee cups you have owned.
I’ll link to each article in this post after I’ve written it. If you have a blog and happen to write on one of these topics, send me the link and I’ll post it as an add-on to each, too.