We are three weeks away from Savannah's inaugural Rock 'n' Roll marathon event!
(Pet peeve alert: Please take note, event planners everywhere, there is no such thing as a "1st Annual Insert-Your-Event-Name-Here." Only after you've had the second one can we be certain that a trend has been established. Cynical, yes, but true.)
I'll be doing the half-marathon this year due to that achilles tendon tear I suffered in August. A couple of our full marathon trainees in the C.R.E.W. training program will be doing likewise. Sorry to say a few others will not be able to race this year due to injuries, but with smart rehabilitation and progressive training they will certainly be racing again! I am not only looking forward to seeing their faces in the cheering section at the November 5th race, but also expect to be running alongside them at the Bridge Run, the Tybee Race Festival, the Shamrock Shuffle, the Komen Race for the Cure, the Savannah Mile, and/or next year's Rock 'n' Roll :-)
Will I be jealous of the full marathoners as they go by? You bet I will. But also absolutely thrilled and electrified to be in their presence, empathizing completely with the effort and exhileration at meeting this astounding goal! And the thrill of it all will seize the day, I know from experience.
In April, 2000, after 12 weeks of training and just 3 weeks before the Sugarloaf, Maine Marathon I tore my quadricep during my last long training run. No running for 3 months, but I was able to volunteer at the race as a bicycle safety marshall. After a good cry at the pre-race pasta dinner, I joined a few hundred runners and a couple of bike marshalls for a very safe and breathtakingly beautiful ride/run down the mountainside. Even saw a moose. Probably would have been too tired to see it while running....
In September, 2006, while not training for anything in particular, I experienced an acute greater trochantric bursitis. It was only 2 months without running that time. Couldn't bike for a time, too, come to think of it. Ooh, I was definitely Ms. Cranky-pants from lack of exercise with that injury! Less than a year later I ran in the San Francisco half-marathon, and I can remember clear as day how elated I was to be running long distance again without pain. Passing the Giants new ballfield in downtown San Francisco, amidst hundreds of cheering spectators including my husband, brothers, nephew and niece, I felt a surge of joy everytime I spotted a runner wearing a full marathon bib number. From 3.1 miles to 26.2 and everywhere in between, there's something very special about each and every finish line, unique in its importance from one runner to the next. I think I cried at the finish line for this one, happy tears for feeling so good.
And I cried tears of pain at the end of 2008's Vermont City Marathon. Note to all runners: Do Not, and I cannot emphasize this enough, Absolutely Do Not Spend 5 Days On Your Feet Working A Trade Show In A Convention Center With Concrete Floors The Week Of Your Marathon Race. Oh lord, that was a painful finish, what a spectacle. A debacle, really.
Let's leave this section on a high note: Tears of joy at the Maine Marathon in 2004 when I finished with a Boston Qualifier time! Even though I had no intention of running with 40,000 people in Boston. And here we are in Savannah about to host 23,000 runners, it's going to be nutsy-crazy-crowded.
Marathoning brings you face to face with your limits. Sometimes your limits are not happy to see you. Sometimes they are. It is a magnificent boost to your self esteem to meet them with a smile and a tear, when you work that hard to rise to a challenge. There's nothing quite like it.
But marathoning could be a metaphor for any challenge you rise to conquer, couldn't it?
And in these last few weeks before the race, a lot of us runners are praying to stay healthy and strong from now until the big day, so all our efforts will not have gone to waste. I am here to assure you, people, that even if, heaven forbid, you get sick or injured between now and then, your efforts will not have been in vain because you have already climbed higher and pushed farther than you ever thought you possibly could -- and you can do it again and go all the way! Even though getting sick or injured now would really suck. No doubt. But it's temporary -- what you've already accomplished is within you forever. And if you want to badly enough, wisely enough, you'll reach new milestones.
Being a coach with Fleet Feet Sport's C.R.E.W. training program has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my running career. To think of the pitfalls, the exasperation, the trials and errors I could have avoided in my marathon training years ago if I had access to a program like this... on this level, it's very gratifying to save these dozens of runners from making those same mistakes. In addition, I have established Savannah connections with amazingly energetic, doggedly determined, and wholeheartedly caring people who share my passion for running -- COOL!
No boundaries between the personal and professional here.
Be Well! See you at the start line on Bay Street on November 5th :-)