An inner athlete's manifesto.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

No Baggage

As many of you may have already heard, the New York Road Runners announced their new, no baggage policy for the ING NYC Marathon last week. As you can imagine, thousands of runners are pissed. I, myself, was livid for a solid five minutes, and then I shrugged my shoulders and decided to leave a backpack with a bartender I know near the finish line so I could change clothes later. I'm lucky to have the option.

What does the new, no baggage policy have to do with this blog post? Well, it has everything to do with my training, for one. For about a week, I have struggled on the simplest of runs--peetering out during six milers, and taking walk breaks on hot and humid four mile, what should have been tempo runs. With the marathon barely two months away, these workouts should be a cakewalk. Yet, every time I've struggled, I've failed and struggled more. What the hell am I holding onto?

A few months ago, I had someone tell me that he didn't think I would know what to do with myself if I didn't have my running shoes. He didn't mean it in a complimentary way, and I knew it. The truth is, he is more than right, and he is completely wrong--I am everything because of what I've accomplished in these shoes. I'll explain:

Not everyone decides to run a marathon. Its appeal lies amongst the strangest of people. Some may call us a sadistic bunch to want to get black toenails and put our bodies through that amount of stress. I've had several friends call me crazy when they see I am up at 5 am on a Saturday to run half marathons in Brooklyn, when they are just ending their Friday nights. I won't deny it. But I will say that before I ran NYC in 2010, I was holding onto a lot of self-doubt in my life, a lot of negativity, and a lot of "I can't". Running that distance was freeing to me; it was like adding years of therapy to my life, when in fact, all I did was physically release any doubt I carried. Finishing is the ultimate icing. Think of the most difficult task you've ever had to complete in your life--now imagine hundreds of thousands of people, holding up signs, chanting your name, cheering for you until you finally complete that task. That's the marathon. Strangers, friends, and family--heck, an entire city--rooting for you to finish, even though your body says differently. And the only way to finish is to forget the pain you've endured, forget the struggle, let go of the baggage, and run.

In reality, letting go is the only way to make room for the fresh goods life has in store. It was a struggle, but I finally was able to finish a decent ten miles in the heat with a friend on Sunday. After two days of rest and some time to think about my new plan of attack, I say, bring it on, Marathon Training. My heaviness is behind me.