Monday, October 02, 2006
Running the monkey off my back
Last year I ran the Twin Cities Marathon, my first marathon, and frankly, had a terrible race. It wasn't supposed to be a terrible race. It was supposed to be the lynch pin on which I rested my decision to sign up for Ironman Florida. I thank God for perspective, because if I had allowed that race to be the lynch pin, I wouldn't be sitting here less than a month from tracing my name in the sand with my toes. (Yea, I'm making a starting line for myself) I ran that day with the weight of the world on my shoulders. At mile 5, I ran by the road that marked me four miles from home. It took every ounce of will to move on to mile 6. I ran to mile 6 because I wanted to keep a legitimate claim on pushing The Tribe to finish what they start and to start aiming big. By mile 12 I was a crying mess, blubbering to Trihubby that I just can't do this, not on this day. I had accumulated hundreds of training miles for this race, but I just didn't have it on this day. I tuned in my mp3 and just tried to let the road absorb me, pushing back the demons that were having a field day in my mind. I hyperventilated from miles 17-19 and merely accepted my fate at The Wall. And I ran on. I sort of knew that if I had quit, I couldn't sign up for Florida, and for god only knows why, I really, really wanted Florida. I ran along Summit, and up and over the hill, and down the hill, thankful to just see the finish line. When I crossed that line, I cried. And I cried for over an hour. Every thing just came out at that moment.
Fast forward one year.
Yesterday I ran 18 miles of the Twin Cities Marathon. My training plan called for a 2:40 run, so why not in race conditions, along a beautiful course, fully supported? When my running buddy, Henry, and I made our way to the starting corral we saw a middle age couple with stuffed animal monkeys pinned to their backs. I laughed at that metaphor, as I'm sure they pulled them off at the finish line. It was a glorious day to run. Cool morning, with the sun gradually heating up the day. Half a million spectators lining the course, bluebird sky, slight breezes, just fabulous. And I ran the race I was looking for last year. No ear phones, just me, the sounds of fall, 10,000 other runners and the fans. I floated past mile 5, and laughed at the thought of turning, I can't believe I'd thougth that way last year. Mile after mile, I chatted with my neighbors, breathed in fall and just ran. I barely noticed passing mile 13, until it hit me, wow I just ran a half marathon. Only 5 miles to go. Then, as I passed mile 16, where I saw a man stop running, go to the side and smoke a cigarette, that it hit me; it is so much easier to run with the monkey off your back.
I hit mile 18 feeling great, knowing I could certainly run another 8 miles to the finish line. But this race wasn't a lynch pin, it was a training run, so I left the course with all that good vibration bottled up.
Last week I biked 120 or so miles, swam 4 or so miles, and ran the monkey off my back.
I call that a good week. Now it's off to the pool