I’ve been obsessed with this whole marathon thing. I admit. Some who know me well know the real motivations behind it all and will likely understand, if not sympathize with this obsession. Other friends won’t know what’s behind it all but will still be genuinely interested, while still others may flip through my multiple updates and pay no mind. A small group will likely see my incessant facebook postings about how many miles I ran eachand my requests for donations every other week and roll their eyes or feel annoyed or think that I’m trying to impress people. I don’t mind that really, that’s their own business.
The internet is a strange tool that people use for lots of different reasons. I find facebook, in particular, to be a fascinating study. Some people seem to use it for sheer networking purposes. Others use it to get extended free play in Candy Crush to the point I can no longer stand it and need to cut the cord (maybe I’ll friend you again one day, Steve Cody). Others post pictures of their family here and there to share with people they know and love. Some seemingly use it to show off, while others seem to use it in a veiled desperation to prove to everyone they ever met that their life is fun, when perhaps it really isn’t.
At times, I am likely guilty of a little bit of all of these things (Note: except the Candy Crush, Steve Cody). But here’s what I know and admit. I genuinely appreciate every person who has taken their time to read my posts. I smile at every comment and I guiltily admit to taking note of every “like.” But above all, I am humbled and touched at all the people who have taken their time to click through to the donation page and leave a few bucks, because that takes effort and no matter the amount of the donation, that is a sacrifice. Every time I get an e-mail from DetermiNation saying that I have received a new donation, I get butterflies. And again, in the most sincere way possible, I thank all of you for your help and sacrifice. In the end, I’ve helped raise nearly $6,000 for cancer research and I’m part of a group who has collectively raised over a million dollars. For that, I am very proud. http://main.acsevents.org/
I packed up my things last evening in preparation for this journey. I am both excited and nervous as I don’t really know what to expect, though I certainly expect to finish. The weather forecast has worsened, going from pleasantly warm to cold and windy, but I’m trying not to let that bother me. Many of my co-workers have been falling ill the past few days, and while I should be ingesting my calories mostly in the form of carbs this week, a good portion of them have come in the form of chewable Airborne and Halls Vitamin C tablets. Getting sick is not an option… at least not until.
When I finished, I had everything I needed for the run packed in two bags – my clothes, my registration form, all the little things like gels, salt pills, band-aids, anti-chaffing cream, race day breakfast stuff, snacks, liquids, you name it. I packed it all up in bags and took a good hard look at it. There it was… 11 months of training in two small bags. The culmination of a journey that started on a treadmill in a hotel in Long Island last December. I remembered some of the stepping stones – pacing my living room and getting psyched the day of my first 5k, hitting my first five mile run on a treadmill in upstate New York, finishing a 10k in Holyoke on St. Patty’s Day weekend and conquering the half-marathon. I remembered the Facebook chat I had with Anthony Marino that made this opportunity possible, and all of thelong-runs when I hit previously unchartered territory – 14 miles, 15 miles, 17 miles, 19 miles, and 20 miles.
Now the only one left is 26.2.
And while this is surely a challenge and one I expect to conquer, I wondered how long the elation of it all would last. What am I going to feel likewhen I pack up my bags again only this time to head home, although with a shiny new medal? Better yet, what am I going to feel like , the day I’m used to getting up early, putting my sneakers on and heading out for my weekly long-run? The race will be over, but how long is this journey exactly?
I think I found that answer late last night, when my five year old daughter came into the room after lights-out. “How come I can’t go with you to your race, Daddy?” I picked her up and put her next to me on the bed. We sat together and had a very adult-like chat about how I’ve been running so much lately to prepare for this race. We looked at internet pictures on my phone of previous races – the mob of runners crossing the Verrazano Bridge. I showed her the lane where I intended to run and showed her the shirt I would be wearing, though I cautioned her that in all likelihood, she was not going to be able to pick me out of the crowd. She seemed to understand.
I then gave her a medal from one of my previous half-marathons and asked her to keep it safe until I came back. She was happy to do that. And then I told her that even though she wasn’t going to be at the race watching it in person, that she really would be there in a way because I always keep her close to my heart. That made her very happy, and she took the medal and headed back to bed.
She hesitated a moment and turned around. “Daddy will you win the race?” she asked.
Looking at my daughter standing in the doorway, I was so amazed at her interest in my running and realized how much of a bond it had created between us. She ran a mile with me once before, though the last quarter-mile found her on my shoulders. She has seen me come home from long-runs – sweaty, smelly, exhausted and barely able to walk. She has been fascinated and always asks questions. I knew at that moment that come, I’ll be putting those sneakers on again and heading out in the morning to run. Though I’m certain her question was quite literal in the sense that she really wants, if not expects me to win the New York City Marathon, I understood the question of whether or not I would win to be a more introspective one. “Daddy, will you win the race?” she had asked.
“I already have,” I answered.
And maybe, above all, that is what will keep me running after mile 20. I have all the support I could ask for from so many friends and family, and so many generous people have donated to such a great charity. I will remember all of that in the early going. But when it gets tough and I really need to dig deep, I think what will keep me moving the most is one thing… I have to bring this little girl home a medal.