Deep Thoughts as the Taper Sets In

July 19, 2010

Believe it or not, I'm eleven days out from running a marathon. This will be my third, and somehow, I keep forgetting that I'm training for this race. Maybe it's the job, or the baby, or the fact that a representative from the electric company came to my door in person to collect my late payment--I just keep getting wrapped up in other things and forgetting that this is supposed to be a big deal.

But the truth is, it's not--not any more anyway. Running used to be a big deal to me.

A very big deal.

Like my happiness, worth, and self-esteem depended completely on my race results.

Thankfully, those days are very much over and done with.

Now, running has turned into something more akin to taking a poo every morning--I just do it. A lot of the time it's completely satisfying, other times it's not, every now and again in takes a whole lot longer than I'd anticipated, but any way it turns out, I keep going back.

There's no other option for a girl like me. If I don't poo, my colon will explode. If I don't run, my brain might explode. Or my marriage, it's hard to tell.

The funny thing about this race is that it has the potential to become a big deal. If I do what I'm hoping to do, and finish under 3:40 (with 59 seconds of wiggle room), then I'll get to run the Boston Marathon. And man oh man, you have no idea how much I want to do that.

It started in 1998, when my mom drove me into Boston and we watched the race at mile 25. We saw the elites, we screamed for the qualified runners, we cheered on the charity runners, and I knew that I absolutely had to run that race someday.

Honestly, every time I picture a digital finishing clock that says 3:40, I have to fight back tears. Every time I picture the finish line at Boston, I can't fight 'em back--I don't even bother trying. I really want to run that race. Really.


Right now, my training for next Friday's marathon is done. I can't go back and make up for the runs I skipped, I can't say no to the fifty desserts I ate during the month of April, and I can't magically give myself the ability to do twenty-five (or two) push-ups. All I can do is look back and remember that I've done two twenty-milers, I did an eighteen miler, a sixteen, two fifteens, a fourteen, a couple of twelves, and two half marathons.

And you know what? As far as I can tell, I'm right on the line--this race could go either way. When I put my last half marathon time into the McMillan Running Calculator, it predicts a marathon finishing time of 3:42:41. Another predictor says I should add 16 seconds per mile to my last half marathon pace, which would give me a marathon finishing time of 3:38.03.

Do you see what I'm saying here? There's no telling how this might turn out.

All I know is that as long as the weather's not brutal, I'm well rested, and my shoes don't fall apart, it'll be close. And you know what? I'm planning to go balls to the walls. What else can I do?

If I qualify, then in retrospect, this race was a big deal. If I don't, then it's not. I'll put another notch in my proverbial belt and try again this fall.

But don't get me wrong here, I'm planning to hit my goal.

I've got to say that training for this marathon has been really, really great. I set a new half marathon PR, I ran a sub-6 mile, Maggie completely loves the jogging stroller, and something insane has happened to my self-esteem along the way. Honestly, if I publicly admit how much I like and love myself, people will talk all kinds of shiz--so I'll just keep quiet.

But here's a little taste...

Yesterday morning, I woke up at 5:30 to get a thirteen miler squared away before church. When I stepped out the front door, it was already hot, so I peeled off my shirt, tucked it into the back of my shorts, and took off. I didn't even think about putting my shirt back on until I came up behind my eighty-year-old neighbor somewhere around mile nine.

Here's the thing--I have stretch marks. Really, really, really bad stretch marks. And even though I'm not overweight, my stomach flab is far beyond epic. But I was hot. So I ran without a shirt. And I didn't care what anyone thought or said about it.

As far as I was concerned, if a stranger was offended by my stomach, we could settle it over a race.

If that's the only thing I get out of this round of marathon training, I'm beyond satisfied.


Anonymous said...

So great that Running is such a part of you. It is a great feeling to just want to run for the relief of it all.

I miss it so much dealing with my injury and reading about others accomplishments makes me smile.

runningtwig said...

Great post - kick some butt next week!

Bahston Beans said...

You rock Amy!

Mindy said...

Great deep thoughts... and I share a lot of them with you... except the marathon I'm training for is kind of a big deal, because it's my first. I'm a little bit nervous, and I have to run my first 15 miler ever this weekend. BQing isn't even in the radar for me. I'm really really excited for you... and crossing my fingers that you get to run Boston. :)

JAMIE said...

lots of fast running vibes coming your way! You can get to the boston, and you will!

Morgan -Ing said...

You are a rock star, of course!

funderson said...

Atta girl! I ran without my shirt this weekend too and I think I MAY have scarred a hippie backpacker chick into NEVER EVER having kids because she saw face to belly what can happen to one's body after breeding. I will be sending ALL my running mojo your way next Friday even though it doesn't sound like you need it.

K said...

Sounds like you've had an awesome journey to this marathon. Good luck! I'll send you some running mojo next weekend.

Jess said...

Good for you!!! Good luck at the marathon too - Boston is a goal for me as well, but a far off one still!

Laura said...

I think I missed it... which marathon are you running? And good luck!

Jessica said...

yeah amy! good luck next friday - you can do it!! xoxo

Beth said...

WHEN ... notice I said WHEN, not if... you qualify for Boston, I will be there cheering you on with a HUGE sign for the RM's that can't be there. That, my friend, is a promise.

Catherine M. said...

Great post Amy!

I love the thoughts about going shirtless. For me its both the flabby thighs and the stretched abs. Somehow intense exercise just makes me proud of my body and forgiving of its problems. Everyone else's ideas of perfection become completely irrelevant. I swear each time I am at the pool women stare appreciatively at my cellulite and wish they would feel as comfortable as I do showing it the world.

Good luck on the race! I'll be thinking of you, I promise!

Reluctant Runner said...

What an excellent post -- I can really relate to what you've expressed about the great satisfaction about running to your potential.

And the lack of concern about weight/body shape sounds so familiar. Funny, I find that running doesn't make me lose much weight -- it just makes me stop caring what the scale says. I feel fit.

Best of luck on your marathon.

Grandma said...

Anyone who runs as much as you do (and in all kinds of weather)has the right to wear whatever they want or don't want to wear:)See you next week. xo

Joy Through Cooking said...

SO awesome! SO excited for you!!!! I know you can do it - if not next week, well, some other time soon :) GL!!!!!!!!!!!! I cant wait to hear how it turns out for you. And for the record: finishing a marathon in late july? Um that alone makes me think you are freakin amazing. And insane. :) Someday Ill join you in that BQ. Maybe an Oct race though ;)

Michemily said...

Good luck! I know you can do it!