Strava Marathon (Bellingham, MA)
Finish Time: 3:55
Run For: Holly
For this recap I wanted to share some words from Dean Karnazes, look him up if you don’t know who he is. I’ve been following him since early 2005 and actually met him in NYC at the marathon that same year. In one of his recent books: The Road To Sparta, Dean explores the physical and mental side of what it takes to run a marathon. This is an excerpt that I feel describes things extremely well.
There is nothing easy about finishing a marathon. No matter if you are an elite front-runner or an anxious first-timer, the undertaking is fearsome. And that is because the marathon is not about running; it is about salvation. You see, we spend so much of our lives doubting ourselves, thinking that we’re not good enough, not strong enough, not made of the right stuff. The marathon offers an opportunity for redemption. Opportunity, because the outcome is uncertain. Opportunity, because it is up to you, and only you, to make it happen.
There is no luck involved in finishing a marathon. The ingredients required to tackle this formidable challenge are straightforward: commitment, sacrifice, grit, and raw determination. Plain and simple.
You set about your training to prepare your body for the rigors of running 26.2 miles. You refuse to compromise, dedicating yourself wholeheartedly to the contest at hand, pouring everything you have got into it. But you know that the marathon will ask for more. In the dark recesses of your mind, a gloomy voice is saying, “You can’t.” You do your best to ignore it, but that nagging voice of self-doubt won’t go away.
The marathon shakes you to the core. It deconstructs your very essence, stripping away all of your protective barriers and exposing your inner soul. At a time when you are most vulnerable, the marathon shows no pity. The marathon tells you that it will hurt you, that it will leave you demoralized and defeated, crushed and lifeless in a heap alongside the road. The marathon tells you that it can’t be done, not by you.
You fight back, however, and stand courageously at that starting line, nervously awaiting the gun to go off. When it does, you put your head down and charge into the abyss, knowing honestly in your heart’s heart that you either paid your dues or that you skimped along the way. There is no lying to oneself here. You can’t fake your way through a marathon.
Slowly, step by step, the pain mounts as the intensity of the endeavor amplifies. You remain steadfast, knowing that you did not skimp in your training, and that every footstep was earned through months and years of rigorous preparation and hard work. Still, with each draining thrust forward, that little nagging inclination of self-doubt in the back of your mind grows progressively louder.
Then, at mile 20, the looming voice of uncertainty is all you can hear. It hurts so badly that you want to stop. It hurts so badly that you must stop. But you don’t stop. This time, you ignore that voice, you tune out the naysayers who’ve told you that you’re not good enough, not strong enough, not made of the right stuff, and you listen only to the passion within your heart. That burning desire tells you to keep moving forward, to continue putting one foot in front of the other no matter what. Courage comes in many forms, and running a marathon demands the courage to keep trying and to not give up regardless of how dire things become. And dire things do become. At the 26-mile mark you can barely define the course any longer, your vision faltering as you teeter perilously on the edge of consciousness.
And then suddenly before you, front and center, looms the finish line. You burst across it and are forever liberated from the prison of self-doubt and limitations that has held you captive. You have learned more about yourself in the past 26.2 miles than you have known in your entire life. You have freed yourself everlastingly from those chains that bind. Even if you can’t walk for a week, even if you are confined to your bed, never have you been so free.
As they carry you away from the finish line, you are at peace. That daunting adversary that has haunted you an entire lifetime is now your liberator, your fondest ally. You have done what few will ever do-you have done what you thought you could never do-and it is the most glorious, unforgettable awakening ever.
You are, above all, a marathoner, and you will wear this distinction not only with the medal they place around your neck, but also deep within your heart, for the rest of your God-given years. Nothing can ever take that away from you. As with Pheidippides, you are part of a sacred fraternal order of the few and the proud. You have kindred spirits across borders and across time. Others may admire you, congratulate you, and tell you they are proud of you, but only those who cross that finish line know the true feeling. A marathoner is not just something you are, but someone you’ve become.
This marathon was run for Holly. She has run numerous times with Team Challenge and I initially met her at an event, mid race and ran some miles with her. She was cruising along and even though it was only a couple miles of chatting they seem to fly by in a second. Later she said that the few miles I ran with her were her fastest ones during the race. Time flies when you are having fun and apparently so do the miles in a half marathon!
Since that race I’ve had the joy of running more, fast miles with Holly at events in Savannah, Key West and most recently in Oregon. I’ve also witnessed her set PRs at some of these races as well. She is speedy and even better she is a true IBD warrior running for a cause that means a lot to her. I can’t wait to run with her again at the next one where I know she’ll be hard to keep up with.
Thank you, Holly, for allowing me to share your story and run 26.2 For You. Congrats on your most recent half marathon in New Jersey on Sunday with some other TC alumni. This 26.2 was for you.