SO… Mile 23
My Granny sent me an amusing article from the Daily Telegraph earlier this week. It was by columnist Bryony Gordon, and she writes about her training for the London Marathon this coming April.
“This might give you some inspiration for your next blog post!” my Granny exclaims in her email.
I will also be running the marathon in March later this year, in Washington DC. And if anything, the article although comical, only made me feel worse about my current training situation. I think I have about 8 weeks until the big day. However, I’m already “carb loading” as I dig into my pasta dinner, and I’m thinking of tapering pretty soon. Which for the non- runners reading this – “tapering” is the act of not running in the lead up to a race to save energy. I’ve been tapering for weeks!
I first got into running when a good friend of mine decided to do a challenge and run 30 races within one year in the lead up to her 30th birthday that December. Crazy I know. Almost all of her weekends were filled up with race after race, which involved eight half marathons, two full marathons, and numerous fun runs, one which included running down the West Side highway in only our underwear, in Mid February. Can you believe I got roped into doing that one? It was only a matter of time before I got hooked into the running world, and my week nights soon became gym sessions of running on the treadmill for 30 minutes, and then meeting the girls on the stretching mats to talk about our day, and gossip. Now that definitely got my heart racing.
You see, I think running comes naturally to me. I am pro at running for the N train in the morning, as I hear it approaching on the tracks above, I have a large coffee in hand, and the latest Time Out magazine scooped under my arm. Or how about running to pick up fabric on 38th Street when the new intern decides to take a long lunch, and I have no choice but to dash out so that production doesn’t stop. Or not to mention this morning, when I woke up and realized we were out of ground coffee, I’ve never thrown on my sneakers so fast to run to the store to stock up. It’s all part of the training.
The race in March will be my second marathon. Once a runner, always a runner, right? I completed the race in Queens last year, and well, it was far from easy. Especially that damn Mile 23. Oh Mile 23. It was straight after my friend Audra (another power runner I look up to) met me at mile 22 with chopped up banana and orange slices. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her in the distance, I wanted to hug her, but then feared of stopping incase I didn’t start again. The fruit she was feeding me was just the icing on the cake.
“Almost there, almost there!” I remember her cheering.
But then it started. The water works. I remember passing the “Mile 23 sign”, blurry, and I just started balling my eyes out. Yes, I was in pain, literally everything was in pain, drunk with tiredness, and I was far beyond “the wall” that runners always talk about; in fact I couldn’t even see that damn wall I was so far past it. Why was I not prepared for this feeling? It was some kind of overwhelming sense of me being in that moment, that I was actually running the race, and that feeling of accomplishment so close, but so difficult to catch. For goodness sake, I only had three miles left, which at that moment I turn the corner to my surprise to see my friend Rita, standing by the Mile 24 sign, and she’s waving her arms in the air with a huge bouquet of flowers, screaming my name. My other two friends Stephen and Augie are there with her, and they start jumping up and down also. It was at that moment the tears stopped, and it was then that I knew, “I got this.”
For some unknown reason, I am not worried about this race coming up. Okay, so of course I’m training, but why am I so cool about this race? Maybe because I have more self-belief this time? Or maybe because I’ve done it before, so I know I can do it again. Even if I do have that fear in the back of my head of that tortuous Mile 23, which until this moment, I have not shared with anybody.
When I have a bad day, I compare it to Mile 23, with that feeling of being lost, perhaps the thought of giving up, or just loosing hope. But then I remember, it doesn’t last forever. You see it was only for that one mile, before my friends met me the other side, and I realized that I am surrounded by the people I love. And suddenly it all makes sense again, and well, you just keep going. Because you know what? “I got this.”