So as I stood in Central Park with my Father, about a quarter mile from the finish, and watched the graceful streak of Grete Waitz flow by me, I was completely ME at that instant, and knew something more true than anything I had (or would) know about myself: I love running, and I want to run this marathon...someday. Now this may sound melodramatic (but, hey, I was a teenage girl. It's all melodrama!) but it was one of those moments where the world seals off all around you, it's you and the world and nothing else exists, and your senses feel hyper-sensitive (like when you're about to pass out and you lose your peripheral vision and the world becomes a tunnel - only better). I don't even know how much time passed. Time froze...
Many years have passed. As it turns out, I was right on Oct 2nd 1978 - the one (and only?) thing I've been 'right' about. I do love running. And I've never stopped running since. And in 2 weeks I'll be running NY. And the thought is making me sick to my stomach...But in a good way.
October and November are two of the 'Big' months for marathons (and racing in general), and so lots of us have either just faced this challenge (and are now probably itching for another) or are about to face it. And it doesn't matter if it's your first or your 10th (in my case) or your 50th (though I can't comment, personally, on this one, yet) when you are standing on that starting line waiting for the gun to go off you just might want to puke.
But here's the thing, Salazar is wrong about us being 'cowards'. We are not cowards. To paraphrase Aristotle: Cowards run away in fear. Cowards feel too much fear, and are crushed by it. Courage, however, is feeling just the 'right' amount of fear, not too much and not too little. You feel fear but you push through it in a rational and reasonable way, facing it and thwarting it! Foolhardiness is feeling too little fear and doing something stupid. So as we stand on the starting line feeling nervous, anxious, apprehensive, excited, etc. we are courageous. We do this voluntarily. No one makes you run. You don't "have to" run. And as we each stand there, wondering why in the hell we've signed up for this anguish, we must make peace and accept that we each have our own reasons for being there. No one is there for exactly the same reason.
And at mile 18 it might be hard to remember why you clicked "register" 6 months ago. But I promise that none of us regret it by mile 26.
For me New York City has special meaning. It comes with a lot of 'baggage', and that's good and bad. When I was told in 2008 that I would NEVER run again, the very FIRST thing that popped into my mind was "Oh my God! I'm never going to run New York!". And that single thought brings me to this point in time. And now it feels like a lot is riding on this run, and I'm a little scared about it all - Okay - I'm terrified!! I planned this year to begin with Boston and end with NY, but NY has always been more important to me emotionally...personally. And this year is special because I've been running for 40 years. Perhaps I'll do it again at 50 years. I hope I still can.