When completing races I’ll often see people cheering from the side of the road with signs for their friends or loved ones who are completing the run. Sometimes the messages are more generic rather than giving a personal shout out, like “You’re all Kenyans” or “No matter how slow you run, you’re still faster than the couch.” My favorite sign so far was one I spotted near the beginning of the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in Portland last spring: “This seemed like a good idea 6 months ago.” This sign was being waved on the sidelines shortly after the start, when I still had plenty of energy to spare an audible laugh and wave at the holder. That run was also the first time I had friends along the path who shouted my name when I passed; I had never realized what an amazing boost it could and would be to have someone there, waiting in the rain until I went by (Jim, Patricia, and Beth, Tim, Inge, and Natalie; I am still grateful for those cheers).
As I near the Portland Marathon, that sign from last spring keeps coming to mind. In January 2012, when I signed up for my first marathon, it really did seem like a good idea. I had almost 9 months to train, no seminary homework to get in the way, and stacks of books to tell me how to pull this off. Now as I sit curled up at Barnes and Noble, my legs occasionally throbbing, I’m doubting my definition of a “good idea.”
Yesterday was my last long run in preparation for the marathon. I traveled 20 miles from my apartment downtown, via Division and Burnside heading West and then back via Hawthorne and Division to get home again. I’ve treaded over a similar course 3 times now, and have learned where the good water fountains are and where the evil hills are too (hint: they are not near each other so pack water). I’ve also learned there are a few areas I recommend holding your breath for a few moments because of the piles of trash that have been left by motorists or people living in the area. And I’ve learned to never ever ever ever go into the bathroom at the SmartPark on NE Davis. Ever!
After yesterday’s run I went home to crash on the couch for a few hours, letting my legs be in charge of all decisions for at least three hours. If they wanted to lay down, I laid down. If they wanted to curl up in a fetal position, curled up I went. If they offered a few minutes of quiet, then I would put away a few pieces of laundry or dishes, then back to the couch for more resting and a major Once Upon a Time marathon (I am so excited Belle is a full-time character this year!). It’s actually freeing to put my legs in charge of all decisions for a few hours: I have a great excuse to do absolutely nothing without their say so.
So what’s next in this little adventure that seemed like a good idea 9 months ago? Next week I have a 10 mile training, and then 6 miles the following week. Then I put my already spent money where my mouth is.
Will it hurt? Yes. Will it be worth it? Yes.