I had two goals going into the 2012 Fargo Marathon, 1) make it to the start line, and 2) make it to the finish line. I'm delighted to report both goals are accomplished and I feel good. My time is not stellar, not even close to a PB, but considering the 4 week down-time as a result of a pesky calf, I'm over the moon just to have made it to the start line, the finish line was a sweet bonus.
Yes, I had a closet goal (4:10 - 4:15 always sounds reasonable in my books) but that started to smoulder at about mile 18. Up until then I was strong and on pace for a 4:10 or better. Over the course of 3 miles, starting at mile 17, my speed collapsed and exhaustion set in hard. By mile 22 it was full-on painful. Each step hurt and my mind pleaded with my legs to stop... to walk, to curl up in the ditch, to share a beer with those friendly college kids. My Garmin conked out earlier in the race so, but I'd be surprised if I was maintaining even a 12 m/m pace by this point. I was drop-dead tired, but I still had a little slow dance left, a little soft shoe, just enough to waltz over the white line.
From mile 20 onward I had a vision, not the kinds of vision you might expect. I didn't see my life flash before me, I didn't see the Almighty, I didn't even get messages from the great beyond. Nope, my visions were pretty darn mundane as visions go... a cup of hot coffee and a small bag of McDonald's fries. That's right, a small bag of fries, not even super sized. That was my vision. I could see it plain as day, and right next to it a small black coffee. Small fries and a small coffee, no cream, no sugar. Pretty pathetic vision I agree, indeed a waste of a good vision. It's my vision though and it motivated me to keep moving forward so I am grateful for it in all its pithyness.
Once back at the hotel I showered, long and hot, and slipped into my pyjamas. I then fell into the deepest REM sleep that I have experienced for quite some time. The sleep of the long distance runner is a beautiful thing, simple, elegant, and wonderfully satisfying. Two hours later, refreshed, I was ready for the evening fun. I met some running pals for supper; actually the world's best running pals, all 50 + of them. Big ones, small ones, fast ones slow ones, all of them beautiful people. All of them positive and brimming over with buoyant energy and support. We marvel at the diversity of our backgrounds, we're all so different, and yet we all share common goals and a love of running. This is an amazingly supportive group of people, my friends, my support team. I like to hang out with winners and all of these people are winners in my eyes. Life is grand, but it twinkles a little brighter in their presence.
I ran 26.2 miles on Saturday, May 20 2012. I was in pain, a blissful pain, but pain nonetheless. I trained 500 miles for the pleasure of running 26. They call it a marathon. So what? It means nothing really. Most people can do it if they put their mind to it, If they want it bad enough, but most people don't and that's ok. It's the people who do not have the option that makes it worthwhile. It is for those people that I run. Those people who would give their eye-teeth to stand at a line of peers and join in the fluidity, join in the surging rush of forward movement, join in the wonderful slow dance, the life dance. Those people that are sick and tired, those people who have lost so much and suffer so deeply. They are the reason I run. It's simple really.
I have found what I am looking for... who would have thought it was hiding along the tree lined streets of Fargo?
It is a good day to be alive, a wonderful day to dance.