Friday, September 26, 2014

What if?

Saturday night, I was hanging out with a bunch of really old people. I was at my 40-year high school class reunion. (Class of 1974, Chippewa Hills.)

Then I got in the car, drove to St. Charles, Illinois, for the fifth annual Fox Valley Marathon. I snoozed a couple times on the way there for a half-hour, then rolled into the race site at about 2:15 a.m. Dave Sheble and a couple of his crew were there, still working. 

Normally I would go down the day before, but I wanted to see my old friends. Then again, I couldn't miss seeing my guys in Fox Valley. In early 2010, when they were thinking about starting a marathon, they called me for a conversation. That event turned into a great friendship. I'd really hate to miss their event.

But in my haste to get there on time, I neglected to take my race pouch with me that had my Chapstick, my anti-friction stuff and where I usually carry my phone. As I got ready for the race Sunday morning, I discovered that my stuff wasn't in my backpack. Darn.

Then this morning, I got this question in my email. It seemed appropriate to discuss for a couple minutes:

"Got a question for you. With less than 30 days until the marathon, my nerves are kicking in, playing the 'what if' game. What if I forget to bring something? What if I start too fast? What if I get dehydrated? Blah, blah, blah. You've been through this process before... how do you silence those voices, reassuring yourself that everything's going to be just fine?"

Remind you of anybody? I dug a little sample-size of Aquaphor out of my backpack and lubricated anywhere that might chafe. I was running on about three hours of sleep, all of which happened in my car. 

How do you silence the voices? I have a rule: IF YOU DON'T HAVE IT, YOU DON'T NEED IT! You will adapt - your brain is very resourceful. I got through the marathon without the usual stuff. No tunes. No glide products, no Chapstick. Aquphor on my lips and stuff. Silence the voices? Screw that. Just sing along with them. They're coming from your own head anyway. And if you don't like the tune, change the channel.

Friday, September 19, 2014

One month to go!

THIRTY DAYS! The countdown. Too early to taper. This stuff is getting serious! The Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon preparation is in full swing.

Yesterday we got the order for Clif Shots in. Clif is our official energy gel sponsor this year. I ordered another 2,000 Heat Sheets as well. We get them on rolls because they're a lot easier to handle than boxes of flat sheets. 

Night before last, we had a kids training run. Every year we set up an obstacle course at John Ball Park and before you know it, the kids have run another of their 25 miles without even realizing it. They'll be running the last 1.2 miles the day before all you big kids run your race.

Then last night it was staff meeting night again. With a month to go, the meetings are well attended. The buzz is that of a whole group of people working toward only one purpose - to give you the best-ever racing experience. 

Staff meetings are magical. People on our staff are nearing a count of 800 marathons at this point. They know what a marathon should be - then they set out to make it even better. They're people who don't need to be micro-managed. They're all leaders. They aren't afraid to make things happen. I really love these people.

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's not just 26 miles

Before too long, many of you will once again complete the magical distance, 26.2 miles, that has come to be called a MARATHON. 

The distance is arbitrary really. Modern-era marathons started at more like 25 miles until the 1908 Olympics in London moved the starting line at the order of the queen. It's been 26 miles, 385 yards ever since. And that's if you run all the tangents and ignore the "short course prevention factor" that those of us who measure courses are required to use to make the course a certified distance. In other words, you'll never run ONLY 26.2 miles in a marathon. It will always be a little longer. (And don't even get me started on some of Randy Step's trail marathon distances :-) )

All that being said, what you may be about to undertake is SOMETHING BIG. And it's more than just running 26.2 miles. It's a big plan. It's persistence. It's sacrifice. It's seeing something through all the way to the end. 

Your life will never be the same after finishing a marathon.