My little sister is signed up for her debut marathon and I paid for her entry fee with the guideline that she would toe the starting line regardless. I don't care if the freaking world implodes...she is running that dam marathon.
Well, the thing is in a month and she has been sick and missed a few weeks and they were supposed to do their 20 mile run this Saturday. She freaked out...because hey, 20 miles would make anyone shit a brick, eh? Seriously.
I had been having a very rough week myself. My training HAD been going AMAZING, butthe last few weeks have been eh, and I was afraid I had peaked too soon. So when Cathy sends me the email that she is about to bail, I lose my cool and write her a nasty email back.
But then I deleted it and wrote a "motivational" email in hopes that that would actually get my message across. What I didn't realize was how badly I needed to write that email for myself. I needed to hear all those things. I KNEW them, I had just forgotten them. I benefitted as much from that email as I think she did (she ended up running 20 with her group the next day!!).
Here is what I sent her:
You are doing it. And it's gonna suck. But the good news is that it will still be your fastest marathon...the first race is always a PR (personal record)! And Tommy and I will be there to help. You aren't doing it alone. You have a great support network of experienced marathoners (me and Tommy and all our friends!) and your training group. It's hard when you are the only one of your friends doing it, but dude, you are way more badarse than them.
You're doing the marathon.
The marathon is like (or what I hear people say about) giving birth. During it, you want to kill people for making you do this...yet it is strangely and morbidly awesome. And then afterwards, all you remember is the joy of being done and the love you have for that bundle in your arms (in giving birth it's a baby and in a race it's a medal and t-shirt...they are about the same). You forget the pain and sign up for another.
The pain is what makes it worth it. The pain is what makes it so awesome. Because you got off the couch and worked to acheive something that not everyone can. You ran a marathon. And crossing that finish line, in whatever crippled state you cross it in, is worth it. It's worth every minute of pain you endured to get there.
It's gonna suck. At mile 21, it's really gonna suck. It sucks for the winners and they don't even have jobs...all they do is train all day long (and they finish in 2 hours - assholes). The beauty of the marathon is that there is plenty of time to really enjoy it and plenty of time to have some really dark moments...but the thrill of the spectators and the 10,000 other people running will pull you out of it. But dude, you just ran 26.2 miles...my first marathon was easily one of the most awesome 4 hours and 53 minutes of my life. And I promise you, no matter how fast or slow you try to run it, there ain't no way in hell that you will be first, and there ain't no way in hell that you will be last. Trust me.
A wise man once told me, "In marathons, the only difference between the walkers and the runners is that walkers know when they are going to walk." Everyone walks during a marathon. A lot of people walk the whole darn thing. Just take a conservative approach and try run/walking...run for 5 minutes and walk for 1. I promise you that you can do this. It's gonna hurt like hell, but everyone needs a few battle wounds, right?
So, in my closing arguments, I have attached a couple of things. One is a video entitled "Why do you run?" My favorite part is about 2:20 in where the two lead women in the Ironman collapse and crawl across the finish. And also, I have attached a document that my friend wrote - it is his personal recap of the New York City Marathon from last weekend.
So, HTFU. You're running a marathon on December 13. Better start running.
Talking to the Television
2 days ago