Saturday, November 20, 2010

A real test.

I just finished stretching.
I'm feeling pretty good.
There's a big race tomorrow.
It's the Philadelphia Marathon.
26. something miles of agony.
Hell no, I'm not running it!
I was just stretching.
My oldest daughter is.
This is her second foray into
experiencing hours of self inflicted pain.
Judging from her last marathon
the pain only lasts for about a week.
My wife and I cheered her on the first time
and she'll be there tomorrow.
Let me just say this to any marathoners
who may be reading this.
Standing alongside the road watching the hundreds
of runners struggle to the finish line
is actually heart wrenching.
These big races always draw
the world class runners.
Watching them finish is like watching
your neighbors who are out for a jog.
No big deal.
They cross the finish line, glance at the stopwatch
on their wrist,
drink a Gatorade and go home.
But for the thousands of participants
the part time runners
the accountants, lawyers, mechanics, doctors and secretaries
who participate because they still have the need to feel the juice,
that competitive buzz
the run to the finish line is often painful.
I mean painful for me to watch.
No one runs a marathon to reap health benefits.
There are no health benefits
to pushing your body
to the brink of exhaustion.
I know why you do it.
You're competition junkies and this is your biggest test
Everyone standing along the road near the finish
claps and cheers each runner that limps and struggles by.
Runners with leg cramps look forward
praying the finish line is near.
Runners limping, weak and nauseated, their bodies
screaming at them to walk.
They don't.
They run on.
I look at the determination in their faces at mile 25
and the hair on my arms stands up.
Each of these runners are impressive.
The runners who finish near the back of the pack
may be more impressive than the world class runners.
If you have never seen a marathon in person
you should put it on your bucket list.


Jerral Miles said...

The spirit and the form of this post are perfect... It moves like a marathon... but no exhaustion.

Karen said...

As one of those who doesn't have a competitive bone in her body, I have never had the desire to stretch my physical being to that outer limit. IT takes amazing stamina and discipline to get to that finish line.

The looks on their anquished faces make me want to say "are you having FUN yet?"

Good luck to your daughter! Great post as always, Mark.

cschneider said...

I love this post, written beautifully, and good luck to your daughter!

beth said...

i'm glad you got your stretching out of the way....

and to run a marathon....not even close to my bucket list....but now because of you, maybe someday i'll watch one !!

tell your daughter that a bunch of us strangers are cheering her on....

(a girlfriend of mine just ran the new york city marathon....she came in 17 thousand something and ran just over 9 minute miles the whole way....craaaaazzzyyyy girl} but i'm so impressed)

but she can't sew the way i do :)

dcpeg said...

Oooo -- you nailed it, Mark. I've watched 7 Marine Corps marathons and each one left me (who did NO running) feeling exhausted and hoarse.

The cruelest part of the run is the last few yards up a steep hill to the Marine Memorial a.k.a. Iwo Jima. Watching the wheelchair entrants is excruciating. It's almost as bad as trying to catch sight of my honey coming back in!

I hope your "little girl" survives!!