My confession that I had a complete breakdown while watching a “Reasons to Run the Boston Marathon” video last week sparked a very lively discussion on my final long run this past Sunday. It went something like this:
Ms. D: So, I take it you like the video I posted on Friday?
Me: Liked it? Are you kidding? It was amazing! Talk about motivation!
Coach (in the most adorably obstinate British accent that I will never be able to replicate): What the hell are you two talking about now?
Ms. D describes the video, and I explain that I started crying when I saw “Three words every runner lives to say: I FINISHED BOSTON.”
Coach: Are you kidding me? I don’t want to hear that s@#$! Have I taught you nothing? Get out of my class!
Me (thinking I’m being cute and sassy): Oh, so now would be a bad time to tell you that I’m totally going to be the dork crying on the finish line, huh?
Coach: Yes! I mean it! If that happens, I don’t want to know about it. I had a girl two years ago who PR’d in Boston and told me that she cried when she finished. I’ve never been more disappointed.
Of course, Coach didn’t let it end there. His weekly letter to our class went something like this:
Well, after today’s run I’m completely discouraged. One of the questions you have as a coach is did you have a lasting influence on the group. After today’s 12 miler with the Boston group the answer is an overwhelming NO! . . . [Among other things] I listen to tales of weeping at work while watching some clip about the greatness of running Boston & a conversation on what we’re wearing without one reference to the weather.
I laughed so hard that I started crying. Again. (Sorry Coach. I’ll save you some misery and not even mention all the other emails that have been flying around this week!)
But, then I began to wonder :: What’s so wrong with being emotional about my goal race?
The first 20 miles of a marathon are all about your training. Have you put in the base miles necessary to maintain an even effort? Did you learn to pace yourself? Is your nutrition plan working? Are you running the tangents? Are you maintaining good form?
The last 6 miles of a marathon are all about heart. How bad you want this? Are you willing to dig deep? Can you force yourself to go into the pain locker and stay there for 45-50 minutes? If you aren’t emotional about the race, then the answers to these questions will be “No.” And, you are destined for disappointment.
There is a whole host of reasons why people start running :: Fitness, weight loss, health, boredom, a boy, a girl, a dog, the list goes on and on.
There is only one reason why people keep running and, especially, training for marathons :: Passion. Passion for the sport. Passion for the camaraderie. Passion for the competition. Passion for the selfishness of training. Passion for the personal triumph. And, many more.
I am proud of my passion. I am not at all ashamed that the thought of my upcoming race moves me to tears. If I didn’t care so much, I have no idea how I would have completed the last 15 weeks of training.
I hope each and every one of you approaches your goals with the same vigor, excitement and enthusiasm. The nerves, the self-doubt, the pain, the joy, the disappointment, the relief and the satisfaction that accompany training, completing your goal race and realizing that the goal is now over are all part of the experience.
P.S. While I suspect Coach knows this already, it is worth repeating that this training class has had more of a lasting influence than I can even describe. The knowledge I’ve gained about training and about myself will stay with me for many years to come as I tackle new running challenges. I just hope that I’m able to do it all again someday.