The marathon is almost here, and I feel at peace about it. There are many things that could go wrong, some of them actually might happen. I know it sounds a little weird, but I have been trying to think of some of these possibilities, not to worry over them, but to reassure myself that even if ______ happened, I would still be ok. Even if it rains, even if my knees bother me, even if I trip on the clothing or cups that end up all over the ground during the race, even if I catch a cold, even if my ipod breaks, even if I can't finish the race or even if I can't start the race for some reason, I will be ok.
This hasn't been the journey I thought it would be. I thought it was all about the marathon itself. I thought it was about accomplishing this thing I thought I couldn't do. It turns out that the journey has been a game changer. I want to finish strong, I want to enjoy the race, I want to do my best, but even if I don't, I can't be sad. This has changed my mentality. I went from being a person who "could never run a marathon" to being a person who can run a marathon, a person who can stretch the limits, a person who can do more than I had originally thought.
This past weekend I spoke with a man who had recently run his first two marathons. His first marathon qualified him for the Boston Marathon, and his second was the Boston Marathon itself. As he talked about his experiences, his pacing, his times, I began to feel inadequate. I won't complete my first marathon anywhere near as fast as he did. I doubt I will ever qualify to run the Boston Marathon, and that isn't even a goal of mine. Should it be? Should I be concerned about speed? About pace? Will I be the last one out on this course, since it is a small marathon that I am running? I let these thoughts marinate in my head for about an hour.
Then I realized, I need to be true to myself and the things I have learned along the way. I am not running this marathon for speed. I don't run to compete against other people or to qualify for other races. I run for health, for sanity, to learn about myself, and to push beyond barriers that I place upon myself. I run because I like to run. I won't play the comparison game, and I will not wait until I can run faster before I sign up for a race. It would not be pushing my own limitations for me to wait until it is safe to run this, to wait until I am sure I can do it, or to wait until I think my time will be comparable with more people. That is not who I am or why I am doing this.
The marathon course has a number of points where people coming "back" will be passing the people still going "out". I don't know how to say that more clearly, but I will be almost constantly aware of the people who are going faster than me. I am glad that I got this chance to remember why I am running and who I am running for before the faster runners zoom by me. They are an inspiration. But they do not make me less of a runner.