Getting there

I recall registering for the Big Sur Marathon because I had unfinished business to complete. After being sidelined from last year’s race due to a torn calf muscle, I signed up this year with the goal of finishing what I started. But oh, how circumstances have  changed.

Last year, I needed to prove to myself I was still strong. Last year, I needed to prove that I was capable of pushing forward through pain and exhaustion and failed expectations. I  recall thinking my reasons were noble at the time.

Now, I realize my motivation is different.  This time my motivation  is simple: I just don’t want to repeat what happened after my first marathon. After college I completed the first Nike 26.2 Marathon in San Francisco. Considering my training consisted of a few long runs – none longer than 19 miles – and a handful of sessions in the pool – my finishing time of 3:18 was pretty good.

However, I didn’t enjoy it. Despite running through some of the most beautiful areas of SF, the only thing I remember from the race was the last four miles. I was hungry, angry, and in extreme pain. I didn’t care if I finished – I just wanted to eat. I stopped caring about my time – I just wanted to see the banner at the end.

Within 45 seconds of crossing the finish line  I chugged a carton of yogurt, nearly a gallon of water and downed a banana, before laying on the ground. The pavement was warm and the heat felt heavenly on my aching lower back. But within seconds a volunteer came rushing over and insisted I get up.

HIM: I should take you to the medical tent.

ME: [eyes closed, enjoying the sun on my face.] No, I am fine. I just want to stretch out my back.

HIM: I really think you need to go to the med tent.

We argued about this for about two minutes. I won, but only after looking him in the eye and saying, “I promise I won’t die on you.” He left me in peace, but the moment was gone. And shortly after I boarded a bus – alone, tired, and wishing I had someone to greet me back at the start.

This year will be different.  I will actually put in the miles and cross-training required to stay healthy and run smart. I promise to do more than just get there.  I want to enjoy the experience.

And this marathon will be different for another reason entirely – Emily will be running Big Sur with me. There will no doubt be periods of the race where I will question why I signed up in the first place. There will definitely be moments I wish I could get back. Days I wish I had trained harder. But we will conquer the hills . We will  face the wind and bare stretches of Highway 1 head on knowing that there will be someone there to hug and hold up at the finish.

2 thoughts on “Getting there

  1. Yogurt? Immediately after a marathon?

    If I saw you laying on the ground after a marathon with a crushed yogurt carton in your hand and a thick yogurt mustache, I’d be concerned too.

    Let’s stick to the beer this time. Beer just says “victory celebration” a little louder than yogurt does.

  2. Duder,
    I was starving!

    The race people were handing out Ghiradelli chocolates at mile 22 and it was the last thing on earth I wanted to consume at that moment. So I bypassed them. One mile later I was so hungry I was searching the hands of other runners looking for leftovers and unopened packages. I am telling you I would have fought someone for one of those chocolate squares.

    Anyhow, you are correct. Beer is a better option afterwards. We will have my parents keep a case of Sam Adams in the car.

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