Saturday, January 31, 2009

Marathon Toe

I call it my marathon toe. It's my badge of honor, my battle wound. My proof that I did something big, and that it hurt. And my feet are ugly, aren't they? You can say it or think it. I know it's true. It's no wonder that long, finger-like second toe took it the hardest. That thing is obscene.
It's almost two weeks later and I've skill got this mark of pride. If my nail falls off, I just might frame it in a shadow box. I did it. I did it.

My journey started in September 2008. A little card arrived in the mail talking about joining something called Team in Training. The weather was beautiful in Colorado and I enjoyed running. Maybe I could run a 1/2 marathon by January. Just maybe. At the informational meeting I learned three things: 1) everyone there thought I should train for a full marathon, screw this half business 2) in exchange for training me and paying my way to the marathon, I'd have to raise (gasp!) $3,900 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society 3) I'd be expected to train at 7:00 a.m. every Saturday morning for the next 17 weeks to prep for the marathon.

I thought long and hard. Well, not really. I just signed up. I could get out of it if I wanted, right? I mean I had never run more than a 10K and my fastest time at that was 54 minutes. I was no long distance runner and I was no speed demon. Who was I kidding.

But by that first training I was hooked.

And four months later I ran my first marathon - the Rock and Roll in Phoenix - with a time of 4:03. Immediately after the marathon I was bummed - couldn't I have squeezed in under 4 hours? Wouldn't any self respecting marathoner be able to do that? My hubby reminded me that my bar was set too high. Some of the only people I've know who have run marathons are maniacs and have finished sub-3 1/2 hours. I learned that is not the norm, and that my time was actually - well - a very good time for a first time out.

I was on a high. Quicker than I could stop doing the marathon shuffle (i.e., shuffling through the Phoenix airport, legs hurting, blister oozing, proudly wearing my medal - yes I wore it to the airport and on the plane - the flight attendant asked me if I had won the race - duh!) anyway, before the pus dried, I was setting my sites on the next marathon. Apparently not everyone likes to run long distances and make themselves susceptible to pain, blisters, blue toenails, diarrhea, cramps and dehydration, but I DO! And in the back of my mind I heard that subtle whisper - "If you did 4:03, you could certainly shave off 12 minutes and do 3:50:59 to qualify for Boston." Yes, you could.

So here is my aspiration. To keep training, to keep the runner's high going, to complete another marathon and to (hopefully) qualify for the grand daddy of them all - Boston 2010.

Won't you join me on this journey?

In the weeks leading up the marathon I gained so much inspiration from reading stories of first time marathoners, elite racers, anyone who had a marathon goal and met it somehow. I got transfixed (okay, obsessed) by the emotional/mental/spiritual component of reaching this goal. At some point your M/E/S state has to be strong and in tact in order to get to the finish line. I learned that the meditative quality of running and the space and time that running allowed me made me calmer, more able to manage my kids, my work. I slept better, my stomach felt better. My stress was less. In essence, running made my life better and me happier.

And I hope it has done that for you too. Stay tuned as I continue to experience the highs and lows of training. And work towards a goal that may or may not be reachable. But didn't someone important once say that it's not the destination line but the journey there that counts?