I may not be in the most optimal shape to run a marathon on Sunday. I will still run it, hard; I’m just not sure how fast that will be.
When I sat at my desk last week to write my blog, I was still in the “Ooh, New York is so slick and cool,” post Ironman/pre-looming marathon phase of intangible reality. That was a pleasant slice of time. Now the race is within sight, my legs are getting punchy, and reality is setting in, I am days away from running another marathon.
I think it would be a sensible assumption that I would be used to running marathons by now or even further, that they are getting easier to run. I have been racing between three to six every year for the last seventeen years, New York will be my fifty-second, and my third in as many months, so I agree with the ease of that assumption, but guess what? They are never easy.
Marathons never feel good.
Every single mile eighteen I have barreled through has been ugly, disjointed, and painful. Just because I know what it feels like, does not mean that feeling ever gets easier, or has dulled over the dozens of times I have experienced it. I never go numb, quite the opposite, I feel every footfall, flit of my eyelids, inhale, exhale, swat of my ponytail against my neck, push and release of my contracting quads and hamstrings as they rev up and power my towering nearly six foot frame closer toward the finish line eager for the madness to end; to hear nothing, to just be quiet, still, complete, finished.
Yep, I choose to go through that delightfully raw and excruciating experience a minimum of three times a year.
Except this year has been different.
I have run one stand-alone marathon, (Boston), two marathons within Ironman triathlons, (Boulder and Kona), two “More Than A Marathon” distance training days, (pre-Boston and pre- Kona builds), and one treadmill marathon, (a birthday gift from my coach). That’s a lot of running.
Another twist this year is that I have never run two marathons so close together, the three weeks between Kona and NYC is a tight window. Nevertheless, if you ask me, “Wouldn’t you rather be sitting on a couch with your dogs? Or, swimming in the ocean? Or, pedaling up the glorious California coast? Or, the mid-Fall/any day of the year obvious favorite option, choreographing a lip sync performance to any current or past pop song?” My reply would be the same to every single one of those tantalizing suggestions, “No, the only place I want to be this Sunday morning is running 26.2 miles as fast as I can through the streets of New York City.”