A Delicious Hell

I don’t think that people who haven’t undertaken distance running understand what a marathon entails. They don’t mean to be dismissive, but they just don’t get it. There is so much involved. You have to train for six months, even if your body is accustom to absurd distance, to be ready for one day of racing. Recovery will be needed, to what degree is never certain. You just don’t know until you are out there what 26.2 miles has in store for you.  The human body isn’t meant to rack up that kind of mileage in a day, that is why less than 1% of the United States has completed a Marathon. It isn’t easy, or everyone would do it. And yes, Runners want to talk about it afterwards and then begin feverishly planning to dismantle themselves on another course. Why? Musicians make music and talk music. Artisans make Art and talk shop to one another. Fisherman live and breathe fishing. Runners live in the glory of their most recent race and then move on to their next one. Unlike the aforementioned trades, most of us aren’t paid to run. We do it socially, we do it for fun. Why? Because it is our passion.

Inclines, declines, potholes, sidewalks, everything becomes a potential hazard. That’s what makes the race so alluring. So much can go wrong. So much planning and you need to run a perfect race. 33,000 steps, and each one is a potential landmine that can derail you.  I know the one that changed my race yesterday.

I was ticking off 5K segments at approximately a NICE 33 minute clip. Right where I wanted to be through 20K. I approached the Queensboro bridge and decided to veer towards the toilets before getting on the bridge. A gentleman graciously held the door for me and not wanting to keep him waiting, I pushed towards the portajohn. The sidewalk before the bridge is at a bit of an angle so my stride was thrown off, then I badly stubbed my left foot on the lip of the portajohn and basically landed with a hard thud. Though the injury to my hoof wasn’t as severe as I thought (just a bad bruise), I had no way of knowing that at the time, and the body moves to protect an injury. I began even subconsciously shifting my weight to compensate, and though I was strong to mile 16, my right foot eventually became blister ridden from carrying the full brunt of my weight. I was now in dire need of a break and a clean toilet to handle a more pressing situation. I was in agony, but I knew if I got to mile 20, there was a clean toilet that few knew about. Working for Parks does have it’s perks. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. I limped in, but I wasn’t able to handle the business I needed to for a infuriating long time. You see, I didn’t plan on being on the course tis long, so I noshed down a banana just before the race to block myself up.  This of course, became a bigger issue as I labored through this injury out there. I regretted that decision. Eventually, I got going again, and when I finally hit Central Park I was on fire. My finishing kick was a sight to behold, and getting handed a medal by a good friend at the Finish made everything wroth it.

I’d do it again in a heartbeat. There are adjustments to make in the plan and the execution. I didn’t get the PR I wanted, and really ended up not being close after the injury, but I found something more important. Reserves of willpower and resolve I wasn’t sure existed. I’m proud of that race.

The 13 miles in Brooklyn is magical. Queens brought a surprising energy, and the Bronx was very fired up even late in the day. That jaunt down 5th avenue to close her out must be experienced. Congrats to everyone who undertook that challenge yesterday, no matter your result, and anyone thinking about taking that challenge? To be able to answer it is a gift. Do so, and it’ll change your opinion of yourself for the rest of your life.

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