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Five Days Out

February 23, 2009
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Apologies in advance for the unique stream-of-consciousness flow of what follows.

Here it is, Monday of Marathon Week. As much as I’ve put in the training, planning, and thinking about running 26.2 miles on Sunday, this is what it comes down to–a few days of eating wisely, sleeping enough, and hydrating well to get to the starting line as healthy as possible.

I looked very carefully at the course map, as it’s unlikely I’ll get a chance to run it before race day, and noted bridges, sharp turns, moments when we’ll be in parks and more urban areas. I noticed the great straightaway from miles 13 through 26, just up and down Bayshore Boulevard.

I wish I could bottle the sensation in my heart and stomach right now. It’s not fear, exactly–though there’s certainly trepidation mixed in with the excitement. I’m trying to keep my head in the game, busy with other things. Twice this weekend I had to take migraine attack meds, so sleep is part of my recipe for preparation.

I’m considering my future, too–putting some summer 5Ks on the calendar and encouraging other runners to consider training for our local marathon and half, which are run in December. Even if I don’t race them, it would be fun to run with some of these other runners who are me two years ago–who don’t think they could ever string together thirteen running miles.

Me, I’m thinking of stringing together twenty-six running miles. As the day gets closer, I find I’m less inclined to think of the clock, and more focused on reaching the finish line. The last two weeks have left me little to rely on in the way of pacing, and until I reach the starting line I’m not sure I’ll know what I have in the tank.

Maybe that’s part of what I wish I could capture forever–the unique excitement of your first race, something I fear I’ll never quite get again. It’s the untested waters, the wide openness of distance, the wonder of testing the training against the very definite possiblity of failure. It’s that electricity in the corral, bouncing in tight corners, checking your laces again, shaking out your limbs and pulling up your ponytail, then hearing the gun and shuffling, then walking, then suddenly your feet are striking out in that drumbeat of thousands of runners–all sizes and speeds but you’re one for just a minute as you spread out into an ocean of movement and color–

For twenty-six miles.

I don’t know. I’ve done the 13.1s and loved them, the fun and uniqueness of that long-distance “I’m going to race this in a measured, calculated way.” But not having tested myself at the marathon, there’s a fresh sense of respect for the distance, maybe especially when I see the course laid out.

All the same, I’m ready to try it. Not so ready I wish tomorrow was race day or anything, but ready.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. run4change permalink
    February 23, 2009 6:42 pm

    You are going to do great. And you will get that “first race” feeling back again at some point. I do now and then still get that feeling. Good luck but I don’t think you’ll need it. You will be blessed all 26. miles of your fun adventure

  2. February 23, 2009 8:27 pm

    Hi Karina,

    Sounds like your training has prepared your legs. Now finishing the race will prepare your mind! I enjoyed your “stream of conciousness”, and loved to hear that you’re feeling lead to encourage others to follow your path. That’s a ministry for sure.

    I’ll be our there at Gasparilla wearing TNT purple as one of the run coaches for the marathon. You’ll finish long before I do. Have a blessed race and enjoy Tampa.

    And thanks for reading my stuff!

  3. February 24, 2009 9:55 pm

    Rooting for you. Looking forward to the report.

  4. the Zookeeper permalink*
    February 25, 2009 6:56 pm

    Though I’ve been late in saying so, and apologize for that, the encouragement that each of you has taken the time to verbalize has meant much to me over the past few days as I fret over how terribly tired my legs feel . . . just a few days from my first 26.2. Probably just taper madness, right?

    I know . . . that’s another post!

    Many thanks, each of you, for encouraging your sister in Christ as she pursues this ultimately silly goal of finishing a road marathon.

    I’m turning my attention and prayers to being able to glorify Him in my race . . . all else is hay and stubble . . .

  5. jhike permalink
    February 25, 2009 9:39 pm

    Not a silly goal at all…an admirable one for sure!!! I am SO PROUD of you! I will start praying specifically over your tired legs…but you ARE ready for this…don’t let yourself get tripped up now…physically, mentally, you have done what you need to do, and you are going to be FABULOUS! I only wish I could be there when you cross that line! I will be praying all morning and waiting for the phone call.

    I will talk to you on Saturday for sure…and btw…thanks for not mentioning any names of people whose arms you are trying to twist into 13.1! lol

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