The alarm rings. You wake up. It’s dark out. You’re in New York City. You have a marathon to run.
You can hear intermittent car horns and a light early morning breeze against the window. You’re dressed up warmly.
Then you begin.
You have a queasy sense that there is no turning back now. You are about ready to picked up and dragged through five boroughs up and down bridges and up and down bridges again. The Verrazano-Narrows, the Queensborough, the Brooklyn…wait, “do we even run over the Brooklyn bridge?” you ask.
You put one foot in front of the other…26.2 miles…don’t forget that 0.2. You need the crowd for those last few hundred meters. Sure, you’ve run around a track before. But as soon as you start this sprint, you know you are going to expire. But you can’t quit with all these people watching. If you turned back now it would be soooo embarrassing.
You replay all of the motivational running quotes you’ve read over the past 4 months…”pain is weakness leaving the body”…”difficulty is the excuse history never accepts”…”obstacles are what you see when you take your mind off of the goal”…
You sing all those “running” songs to yourself, played on a loop in your head. You know the ones – the songs that have nothing to really do with running but have the word “run” or some other motivational phrase in them. “Born to Run”, “Don’t Stop Believing'”, “Runnin’ Down a Dream”, “Run to the Hills”…
There are people all around you but you don’t see them. You are solely focused on the race.
It’s crowded and noisy. You have no idea where you are so you just blindly follow – like a lemming off a cliff.
“All these groups…” you think to yourself. There’s the Italians, decked on Azurri blue. Then you spy the Dutch contingent, whose strides are double the length of your’s because they are all 6’13” it seems. “If I was that tall, I would be able to run so much faster,” you say to no one in particular. Old people, young people, pretty people, ugly people…all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities.
There are countless drink stations, myriad food stations, medical tents that remind you that this race could literally knock you off your feet for many months.
You remind yourself that you’ve done the training and they say if you do the training you will be able to complete the marathon. Yeah, sure. I don’t see “them” in my shoes right now. Who are “they” anyway? Some random ex-marathoner who thought they could make a few bucks selling advice? “They” don’t know my body, my temperament, my personality.
Still, you are a marathoner, which means you’re self-confident, right? Or do you just say that in order to mask a deep-seated insecurity of your ability. The thoughts swirl, the mind wanders, you have been going for hours, you hear that iconic Frank Sinatra anthem “New York, New York”…
And then you get to the start line.