twenty six point two

I am running a marathon in less than a month. Holy s*$&.

What am I thinking?! I have asked myself that little question a LOT over the last 6 weeks.  I can’t quite remember when I registered for the marathon…May I think?  It was a while ago and the 26.2 miles that I needed to run on race day seemed eons away…and they were.

I remember thinking that I’d have so much more flexibility in my training once I finished working full time. Oh to be young and naive.

Here’s is what really happened. I started going to school full time–and while it’s been amazing it has been 100% busier than I expected. I think the slow pace of grad school foiled me into thinking that this program would be the same. It’s not. I am in class a lot. I have a LOT of assignments and I need to study a lot. We have a ton of info to fit into three short semesters.

I also started playing ultimate for the Mac team and am taking a pottery class once a week. We also do a weekly community dinner.

So, ya, the part about having more time to train—this did NOT happen.  I committed the cardinal sin of marathon training and missed a couple of long runs. Finally last week I got my act together and ran 20 miles. The 20 miler is one of the backbones of marathon training. I didn’t die. It wasn’t fun, but I didn’t die.

So, here I am, less than a month out with only a “short” 12 miles to run tomorrow. I’ve had to cut loose some unrealistic goals and have missed a LOT of my speed runs. Quite frankly, my only goal for my “race” is to finish with a smile on my face.

I was reading a great article in the November Runner’s World today about the elusive 6.2 miles at the end of a marathon. The writer said that it was these miles that made it worth it. These brutal, awful, soul-exposing, worse than the dreaded “wall” miles that make running a marathon something. As I read the article I tried to minimize the fear rising up in my chest. After last weeks 20 mile run I don’t think I could have gone for another 6.2 miles, for another hour. But, thankfully, I didn’t need to. My body and my feet (sans second toenail) took me exactly as far as I needed to go.  And I am praying and hoping on race day I’ll be able to go that extra 6.2 miles. And when I do? Oh, it’s going to be so good.

So good. And a forever accomplishment.

I have some mantras that I think about when I am out there alone and I just want to lay on the side of the road. After reading this post I remind myself that running is a privilege and that there are many people out there who can’t, for whatever reason,  run. I don’t ever want to take one step for granted, even in my worst, most painful moments.

I am growing and stretching (metaphorically, unfortunately not literally enough!) and come November 8th I am going to be a marathoner. Forever.