Today’s the final Friday before Marathon Day. In two words: Holy crap. The journey that began in the thick ice of January will end in a forecasted 83-degree heat in July. It has been long. It has been mostly paved. It has been filled with a longing, a searching, a quest… for a clean, open bathroom somewhere along all those training routes in every neighborhood of Missoula, Montana.
Those routes all lead, eventually, to Frenchtown, the starting spot for the 5th Annual Missoula Marathon, my first and maybe last.
But, fortunately (I think?), it’s not the first time I will have willed my two feet to take me 26 miles. My class and training program built up to that distance three weeks ago, which taught me a couple of lessons:
1). Twenty-six miles running/walking is even more of a WTF moment than 23 miles was.
2.) I can actually do this thing.
3.) On marathon day, I will thankfully not have to find the stern German woman at Caras Nursery and beg her to let me use the bathroom prior the place opening for customers, which should shave about an hour and 15 minutes off my time (possibly wishful thinking).
4.) People who run marathons in two hours or three hours or four hours are crazy fast and impressive and I am not. I am slow and plodding and short and fat, which proves that just about anyone can do this, even if it takes six hours or more (as it did me).
Along the way, I have found a few tricks to help me go the distance.
Since I’m doing the run-walk-run method (read about that cult here), I can really focus during the running bursts on my form. Thinking about how to look like a runner gets my head where it needs to be, rather than in my aching hip or my black toenails or in my butt, which desperately wants to sit on a cushioned chair.
I take deep breaths, keep my chest up and open. I look to the place where the mountains meet the sky. That gives me both an appreciation for this privileged place to train and helps with my alignment. There have been moments in doing this that I have felt amazing, like a real athlete or something.
There have been less lofty moments, too. You may have caught on by now that those involve my bladder. And there will be low times on Sunday, I know.
But visualizing the finish, the end to this thing I was pretty sure I couldn’t do, makes all of the time I’ve put in, the stress on my body, the weird gels I’ve consumed, the comical pee breaks worth it.
God only know how actually finishing will feel. Stay tuned.
NEXT and LAST: Even holier crap, I did it (I hope).
Did you miss parts 1 (cow, butter), 2 (Brooklyn), 3 (Eye of the Sleepy Kitty) and 4 (cults)? Luckily, this is the Internet and you can waste some more time clicking back there!