I haven’t run the half marathon distance in about five months. Not even the distance. Close. I’ve touched up near nineteen just last week, and skirted through the high teens on and off both before and after my injury. But twenty-one point one? No. Yet in about twenty-four hours I’ll be queuing up at the start line in a local park with a couple hundred other runners and getting ready to do just that. It’s fair to say I’m starting to get a little nervous. Not that I haven’t prepped. Sure, my distance is a little on the low side (we’re calling it a build-to-the-race style of training instead of a taper) and my expectations are for a solid, running to-complete and not a PR. My calves and back are solid, and I’ve been cross-training those. I’m hydrated (and will be suckling a water bottle for the next day to stay that way) and I’ve got the day off, so I can putz around, relax, get in a stretcher run, and otherwise get my gear in order. Still, there is that same lingering doubt that I’m making an effort to squash and stuff away, the same doubt that I feel before every race and every training run. It somehow feels a little more valid this time.
a mash-up of philosophy & fatherhood
As far as life-time experience goes, mine is pretty short. But I’ve carried the “dad” card for nearly eight years now (particularly if you count those tenuous first nine months) and occasionally I feel as though I have something to say on the subject.
Actually, who am I kidding? I’ve been avidly blogging on the topic of fatherhood since I found out that metaphorical oven timer was running, filling the web with various and literal bits of insight and idle curiosity. I’ve ranted and retorted, shared stories and proffered advice, plotted, prided, pouted and philosophized on the very concepts of being a father that made me puzzled or kept me awake at night. And not a word of it was worth much of anything.
There is a part of me that has been feeling really fast lately. Mathematically, this perception pans out: my average pace is faster by about ten to fifteen percent since the summer. Part of this is due to one simple fact: the members of the group who were most dedicated for the latest iteration of the half marathon clinic I’ve been leading are faster. They just go, and at first I needed to push myself hard to keep up. So I ran faster on my solo runs and pushed harder on my group runs. It paid off, but there has also been a bit of a side effect. I go faster but I feel less fit. Just feel. Like I said, the math implies measurable improvements which itself implies better fitness. But it’s like that old saying says, ‘the more you know the more you know you don’t know.’ I guess it’s like that. The faster you go the slower you realize you are when you slow down.
Everyone loves a good list, and after four previous rounds of my blogging extravaganza “week of lists” posts, I’ve pretty much confirmed the old (if slightly modified) adage: If you write them, they will come. Again, seven days, seven lists: and this time the topic honours my starting-this-week marathon training efforts for the summer of 2013, locked in step and stride on this, the week of lists number five, the Twenty-6-Point-Two Miles Edition.
In this post we explore the lighter side of sharing the news of your epic decision. Invariably, everyone you tell that “you’ve signed up to run a marathon” is going to either (a) not care or (b) react in some fashion that makes you question your ability, committment, sanity, or some combination thereof. So — in my humble experience — what follows are…
6 Reactions You’ll Get When Announcing Your Marathon Goal
You can picture it, right?
The words spill out of your mouth: “I’ve signed up to run a marathon” you say. And the person you just told stands there, head held slightly askew and mutters a cautious “really?” But you can tell.
You can see it in their eyes and they way their eyebrow did that nervous little twitch a half-centimeter closer to their hairline.
“Really? Oh… yeah? Really? I… didn’t know you ran. Are you… uh…”
Of course there are those who’ve heard THAT story before and claim to know the numbers: you know those numbers, too. Not everyone who sets out on this training journey is going to be standing at the start line.
It’s not something we plan for, but it’s something we hold in our minds as a possiblity, but you say: “I’ve signed up to run a marathon” and a minute later the response is a knowing “well… be careful. People get injured real easy when they run. You could get shin splints and wind up on crutches.”
Myself, I’ve never been good at interpretting people’s variety of laughs. I mean, there are happy laughs, and laughs at well-told jokes, there are laughs that bubble out of people when they are excited and others that tumble out when they are feeling a little awkward.
“I’ve signed up to run a marathon” you say. And a second later you’re greeted with a grin and a chuckle.
A nervous chuckle. And it spreads around to anyone else who might be in earshot… as if someone just told a dirty joke and it’s about you… maybe?
The idea of running a marathon also has a certain air about it that tends to evoke a little of the green monster.
It’s not a reason to run, to show others up.
It is just like any other bucket-list accomplishment: it’s a tough goal to reach and those who eventually do should get to brag about it. But utter those words “I’ve signed up to run a marathon” to the wrong person and eyes start to roll, huffs puff, and you either get the silent treatment or the “oh.. aren’t you special” comeback special.
The flip side of envy is, obviously, the admiration.
“I’ve signed up to run a marathon” fumbles from your mouth and then you see a shimmer of light glowing on a dark horizon: eyes get wide, grins turn into broad smiles, hands are shaken, backs are patted, and the next thing you know you’re getting kudos for something you haven’t even done yet.
Your protests of “hey, but I’ve only just signed up” are batted down with platitudes of “the first step is the hardest” or “it’s more than I’ve ever done.”
And you can’t help but love those who take the admiration one step further.
It’s great and everyone wants to be helpful, of course. “I’ve signed up to run a marathon” you proudly announce to someone… anyone… a fellow runner or even an armchair athlete, and: “hey, I heard about this awesome training program that you should sign up for.”
It’s appreciated, of course, knowing that others are invested in your success, but I’ll give you the name of “friend of mine who runs, too” may not necessarily fit into your training plans.
Whatever YOUR reaction… we love you all. Thanks for your support.