I am running a marathon this weekend. I do not say this lightly. I should actually say that I will be trying to run a marathon this weekend. I’m too superstitious a person to proclaim that I absolutely am running a marathon; too much bad luck could befall me at the last minute. Then, I think, I should really be much more confident about this. As you can see, a good way to encapsulate how I feel a couple days from a marathon is a bit of a crazy mess in need of ample amounts of confidence and luck.
Whenever I mention that I’m training for a marathon, people always ask me why. First of all, if you’re asking me why, then a marathon is not for you. There are so many reasons to run one. You can use it to set a goal, act as something to look forward to or run for the memory of someone you love. You can run one to lose weight and get yourself in shape. Conversely, it’s a wonderful excuse to eat whatever you want whenever you want.
Personally, I was drawn to marathons and long distance running because I wanted time to myself and a challenge to do something I never thought I would do. I mean, the body is literally not designed to be able to complete a marathon. I can distinctly remember watching a marathon in my hometown and thinking, “There is no way I’d ever be able to do this.” So a couple years ago, after watching Philadelphia marathoners walk home in their heat sheets and medals, I decided that I was going to run a marathon. Someday.
I started with smaller races. After completing a number of Broad Street Runs and half marathons, the next logical step was the marathon. (Why are there no ¾ marathons?) And thus began training.
Training for a marathon is basically a full-time job, and those around me can attest that I am a lunatic during it. There’s the constant sacrifice of giving up time and alcohol. After all, most weekends, you’re running upward of a half marathon. You start to sleep in a comatose state and wake up with leg pain that varies from a mild reminder that you ran the day before to an unholy punishment from beyond this world that smites you and your hubris. Much of your day is spent complaining about your (beautifully sculpted) legs, looking for food, peeing out all that extra hydration and, of course, telling anyone who’ll listen that you’re running a marathon.
The hardest part of training is getting through it uninjured. When I successfully ran the Philadelphia marathon last year, it was on my third try. Shin splints or stress fractures kept me out of the game. It only takes one wrong step to undo 16 weeks of training. I’ve been paranoid all week about little aches and pains, or whether these sniffles I have are the genesis of a full-blown common cold on the horizon. Everyone who gets to the starting line has already dodged a bunch of proverbial bullets. Then there’s that small matter of actually getting to the finish line.
So, ideally, this is the first in a two-part series. Next week, I hope I’ll be able to report about my first time running the Steamtown Marathon through Scranton and its environs. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking for a number of reasons. This is the first marathon for which I was ever a spectator. The path of the race goes directly past my mother’s house, my father’s house, my grandparents’ house and so many other places that represent memories from growing up. It will be a 26.2-mile jog down memory lane. And when/if I finish, I’ll have more good memories.
I mean, WHEN I finish. Yes, when I finish. (No jinxes.)