An inner athlete's manifesto.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"The Rub, the Task"--Miles 20 and Beyond

There's been a few times while running, that I felt like I was reaching down into some pit to muster up a single serving of strength to finish. Nothing since has compared to the last chunk of the ING NYC Marathon. Right now, I picture you all camping on asphalt at Staten Island. Maybe someone brought a deck of cards, maybe you're on your second hot chocolate and you found a Dunkin' Donuts hat. The excitement and impatience to start--to begin--and the hopefulness of how well you'd like to race compare just as greatly as remembering that hope, say, at mile 22.

It is easy to go down into Hell; night and day, the gates of dark Death stand wide; but to climb back again, to retrace one's steps to the upper air--there's the rub, the task.

This quote describes how I felt about mile 20 when I ran New York in 2010. My body was already pissed off at me, and then we reached the Bronx...

"How was your time?" My friend Bri asked a few days later.

"Uhh, not the best. The Bronx killed me."

"Don't worry," she said. "The Bronx has that effect on people whether or not they're running marathons."

I think the real task at hand in those late miles is to get your mind off all the pain your body's enduring. After those last, painful miles where even elites may falter, the finish line and beyond is all that matters; it's the true beginning for most of us runners.

So don't give up. And remember why you started.

Good luck, runners!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Why I May or May Not Ever Be a Pro Athlete

On my way to NYRR's 3rd Annual Five Borough Bash, I got lucky. Traffic crawled up Park Ave, and as I scrolled through my twitter feed, I found out Lauren Fleshman was at a store just a few blocks away. Moments later, I was running down the streets of New York to meet this running rockstar. Lauren, who is down-to-earth and awesome, got me thinking, "Why can't (or can) I do that?" Here's my reasonings:

1. I'll say it--I will do anything for free running gear, even if it means dragging myself out of bed after two days of being sick and running three miles (it was worth it--I got a nice gym bag, a hat, and I got to meet/run with Bart Yasso). And I believe that pros enjoy getting gear for "free" also; their names are even on their shirts. Damn. That's nice. During last year's ING NYC Marathon, I wore a tech shirt from a Healthy Kidney run I did a few years back. I took the shirt to my favorite bar and had all the regulars sign it with permanent marker, and I colored my name across the front. Running those 26.2 miles with people yelling my name definitely spurred me on. If I had my name on my shirt ALL the time, of course I'd run faster. Imagine the possibilities. If I had the actual lettering across my shirt, I probably would have swept up the marathon faster than what post-season baseball does to Boston. I would be...a pro.

2. I like the same things pros like. After I met Lauren Fleshman, I decided to go home and re-read a recent article about her in Runner's World. She eats burgers, drinks beer, and is 30 years old. I, too, do these things and happen to also be 30. Sure, I'd have to run a lot more and be more strict about my diet. And Lauren has been running a long time, but I can't help but it ever too late?

3. Sometimes, I feel like a pro. Everytime I run a faster 10k, or pass someone, I get a cheap thrill. When a non-runner friend compliments me in awe of my (albeit minor) running accomplishments, my runner's ego soars--even without an Olympic record. I have a competitive edge that creeps out when I hit the pavement.

I guess it just goes to show that you don't have to be a pro to feel like an athlete.

Good luck everyone!