OK, folks, I’m writing drunk. Abstaining from alcohol for the month leading up to the marathon has made me a lighter-weight than I ever was, and tonight I had one glass of wine with my mom and ended up fairly schnockered. (Is that how you spell that word? Is that word even real?!)
Anyway, here’s what being quite tipsy is good for: it gives you perspective. Tonight, for the first time, I was able to really admit that I don’t care one jot what my time turns out to be when I run the Chicago Marathon next week. And it’s not because I’m lazy, and it’s not because I don’t push myself to succeed. It’s simply because for me, in this case, just doing the thing is enough.
I could go into it all fire and piss and vinegar and declare that if I don’t run it in under five hours, I’ll be disappointed. I could jump into the fray with my much more competitive in-laws and boast about who I plan to beat and fret about how my aching hip might slow me down… but the real truth – as I finally saw tonight – is that I. Just. Don’t. Care.
I never planned to run a marathon. And, having trained for this one, I know I’ll never do it again. Along the way, there were moments of glory. I pushed my body far beyond what I thought its limits were, and I got braver. I finally experienced a runner’s high, and felt blissful – as present yet peaceful as I’d ever been. I shared gross blisters and deep muscle aches with my husband, and we made each other laugh/cry as we used a foam roller to work out kinks in thighs and calves. I brought together $1,275 for the Red Cross; the first time I’ve fund raised of my own accord in my entire life. And hell – all those things? Those were what I wanted from the race.
As I got stronger than I’d ever been, I started raising my expectations. How fast/long/hard can I go? I’M AMAZING!! And I was. But then I completed my 20-mile long run – the apex of my training plan – and since that day, my hips have HURT and my knees have tweaked at every step. I’ve had to totally back off my training schedule just to loosen my muscles enough that I could fall asleep at night. And I fretted. I’d gained so much, only to lose it. What would people think of my inevitably slow time? What if it takes me six hours to run this race, what if all the senior citizens beat me, what if my in-laws say I didn’t take it seriously and prepare, when I know I did…
And now? Now, I just don’t care. I have nothing but admiration for runners who give everything to make themselves faster and stronger, and fight right through the pain for a better personal record. But me? I’ve already gotten everything I wanted, and have nothing to lose. I get to be there on October 13th, running with my family. I know new things about my body – and yes, corny though it may sound – about my mind and soul. I’ve been training almost as long as I’ve been writing this blog, and they’ve both been amazing journeys.
So on Sunday – knowing this is the only marathon I’ll ever run – I plan to enjoy it all. I won’t grump myself into an anxious ball, worried about my pace. If I need to walk, I’ll just walk for a bit. Instead of turning completely inward, I’ll listen to my story-telling pod casts, high five supporters with signs, and look for the faces of my loved ones at the finish line. The running? It’s gonna hurt. No doubt. I fully anticipate spending the week after limping and icing my parts. But the experience? It’s gonna be a touchstone of my life.
It’s going to be the time I just stopped caring, and not caring made me HAPPY.