Some of us don’t run at all, and that’s just fine. Some of us run a 2-mile loop around the neighborhood once a week on Saturday morning to earn permission to binge on a large dose of pancakes, bacon, and mimosas at brunch. Some of us run to stay in shape and go out quite regularly to burn some calories in preparation of beach season. And then there’s nut-jobs like myself who think it’s fun to complete long runs upwards of eighteen or twenty miles on Sundays under the title of “training.” I’m talking of course about training for marathons, where one’s physical and mental boundaries are seriously pushed to the limit.
I’ll always remember the wee and dark hours the morning of my very first marathon when my elite running buddy JP told me, “There’s nothing you can do to prepare yourself for the last six miles. Nothing. You just have to do it.” He was right. I hit mile eighteen and my body started to break down. The pain in my knees and shins had dissipated because, well, I couldn’t feel anything in my legs anymore. They had gone numb. I was moving purely through the will power of my brain sending electronic impulses to my legs to signal simple steps forward, one at a time. I crept along at a slow pace, mile after mile, with each one seemingly longer than the last. And it was during those last few miles as I mentally started to black out that I really started to question life itself and my existence as a human being. (Why does that always happen?)
During the two marathons that I’ve completed I’ve always ended up crying a bit as the finish line was approaching with just a handful of miles to go. Why? I can’t really tell you. I think it’s from the summation of the pain, the fact that I’m ignoring the pain, all the emotions from the struggles of living with and battling my Crohn’s (last year was particularly rough), pushing myself to finish a marathon despite relapsing several times during training, and knowing that completing those next few miles was something so small yet so meaningful to me. Plus I had already been running for well over three solid hours. But finishing earned me more than just a new medal to hang on my wall and a new t-shirt. It proved to myself once again that I really could accomplish anything I set my mind to and really push my physical and mental boundaries to their very limit.
So, you’re wondering what’s next? Well, this weekend I’ll be running the Green Mountain Relay with some former crew teammates of mine at BC (JP, SK, SM, SW, and WW with CR who got sucked in to be our driver). The GMR is a ~200-mile relay race through the state of Vermont and takes somewhere around twenty-four hours to complete. That’s right folks, twenty-four hours. A full day of running between the team. And the best part? Instead of doing a team of twelve we decided to enter as an ultra team of just six runners. (Yeah, because that made sense.) That means we’ll all be running about thirty miles a pop (with JP taking on 40 miles) over the course of six separate legs. While I don’t expect this race to necessarily push my mental limits so much (due to the distance being broken up into several legs), I know for a fact it’ll push my physical limits. It’s going to be intense to say the least. Expect plenty of GMR-related posts right here, and follow me on Twitter for updates throughout the race to stay in touch with how things are going.
All I have to say is the t-shirt better be worth it.