One Runner’s Road to Race Day
The Lostboys are off to Berlin. Our goals are our own but, as with any Lostboys adventure, there is no chance we would be able to achieve them alone. I for one have run two marathons, both times in cities I lived in at the time (NYC and Boston). I have never travelled internationally to race, and I have never raced a marathon on streets I did not call my own.
The logistics and stress of travelling to and being in a new place are stressful enough on their own! As I sit here on my flight to Europe, I still have no idea how to get to the starting line, what sort of food I’ll seek out the night before or where I’ll be able to purchase my go-to gels.
In a very real sense, I will be able to rely on our crew to navigate this uncertainty. We have many Berlin marathon veterans making the trip out who will know the spots to shake out, know the hacks and the ins and outs of getting to the start line calmly and with everything we can control taken care of.
Some in the crew will be chasing US Olympic Trials qualifying marks, many of us will be looking for personal bests, and all of us will be digging deep for the guts to finish.
More importantly though, the crew will bring familiarity and a sense of ease in the days before the race. As we stare down this insane task of running a marathon, we’ll be able to do so with friends new and old, sharing meals, laughs and ~vibes~. The time together will take the edge off, as it always does, and I’m sure that I’ll remember these little moments with as much, if not more, fondness than the race itself. I know that, regardless of how the race goes, I’ll have a bunch of happy and smiling teammates to greet me at the finish. Ain’t nothing better than that.
Some in the crew will be chasing US Olympic Trials qualifying marks, many of us will be looking for personal bests, and all of us will be digging deep for the guts to finish – which I assure you is no easy task, regardless of your fitness.
I for one am facing 26.2 miles of uncertainty. I’m far less prepared for this marathon than for my other two. That said, I’ll still send it. While I ran just under 2:43 in my previous marathon, I’m hoping to cross the line in around 3:00 this time around.
And while it would be easy (and probably sensible) to have deferred my race until next year, or for just a few months, I don’t know how much time for marathoning I have left in me. In the past year, non-running obligations have continued to take up more and more of my time. I may simply be prioritising them to a greater extent but, regardless, the effect is clear: I am running less and less.
I am not sad or sombre about this, though. Much like we do when the natural seasons change, so too do we see hints when the seasons of life transition from one into another. I see the weeks leading up to this marathon like I do the first leaves turning orange in early September. They remind me to enjoy these moments of running and travelling the world with my friends, grabbing runs before or after work, sneaking out from a family wedding to get a workout done – because I may not have many days of this lifestyle left.
I always thought I could be a bit quicker over 26.2 miles, and I may yet be, but I have no doubt that I’ll be able to step on that Berlin starting line confidently and with a huge smile on my face; there is no other way to be! It is because of this marathon buildup that I have enjoyed every step and moment of running lately. Time is our most precious resource, and I am happy with every moment I spend running these days.
I’m still flying to Berlin, taking my race seriously, adjusting my goals sensibly and sending it, because that is what this athletic pursuit is all about: finding out what we are capable of, finding our limits and asking ourselves to go beyond.
This will be no less an act of self-discovery than a personal-best marathon. Win or lose, I’ll fly the L. And I’ll think of my Lostfam when I’m ripping in the last 5k. Just thinking of their smiling faces will pull me through. See you in the beer tent.