The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is this weekend. As I type this, in about 58 hours thousands of people from all over the world will convene in our beautiful city and run different distances at varying speeds in remembrance of April 19, 1995.
And I will find out if I have prepared well enough for the half.
Honestly, you guys, I am terrified. I am worried that I won’t make it past mile 9 (the longest I have run so far) or that my yoga pants or the elastic of whatever stupid, not matching outfit I end up wearing that day will fail when everyone is looking. I am worried that 6:30 a.m. is too early for my body to do much of anything besides drink coffee, enjoy the sunrise, and watch chickens and llamas do their thing. Will Handsome be willing to have a 4 am Hot Tub Summit with me that day?
I am worried that while running with strangers a big gust of Oklahoma wind will kick up on an unfamiliar urban hill and steal my favorite turquoise beekeeper’s ball cap, Velcro fastener mangling my ponytail in the process, and that I will be so devastated that I exit the race to reclaim it. I will then trample someone’s perfectly designed tulip-and-pansies flower bed and never show my face on the north side of town again. I am worried about embarrassing my little brother and our nephew, who are also running that day, and I’m desperately worried that my beautiful daughters will be there on the sidelines and feel embarrassed of me.
For the past nine months or so I have been “training,” sometimes strictly but often not. There has certainly been slow, steady progress; my abilities today are without a doubt beyond what they were last summer when this all started. But at this moment on Thursday evening before the race, a sort of panic is overtaking my confidence like an ugly oil spill.
No doubt about it, if I can get my thoughts and feelings under control then everything will be fine. The race will be a success. I will come home with my favorite hat and a medal to give my parents-in-law (I’m running for them), and no one will pretend like they don’t know me. At least, not any more than they already do.
Running is absolutely a mental game, and I recently enjoyed some proof of this fact. Would you like to hear a little story?
This past Monday afternoon I went for exactly my second public run since junior high P.E. class. Running in public is a ginormous phobia for me, adding to my building sense of dread and doom for this weekend.
I drove to a municipal park about twenty minutes from our farm, believing the paved track around it to be one mile. At home I am accustomed to running two miles before stopping for water, so at this park I planned to do the same. Two miles, which would be two laps. Right? I listened to the same music, kept my normal pace, and just kind of got lost in the zone.
Back to Monday.
I ran steadily, following this lovely paved path which alternated between sun and shade, semi-private and very public. I celebrated inwardly how friendly people are to runners. Then at the end of two laps I felt thirstier and much looser and more warmed up than I usually do after two miles. I checked my phone and saw that rather than twenty minutes, I had been running for almost an hour! It was shocking. I later confirmed the path I took was three point-something miles.
The point this proves is that my body could fulfill the expectations placed on it by my mind. I thought I was running two miles, which is easy, so I just kept going. Easily. And it turned out to be six. Then grabbing one final three-mile lap was a breeze, and I finished nine miles giggling out loud.
Once my mind was distracted and in the zone, my body naturally followed suit. I have no doubt that if I had been focused on difficulty, that would have been my experience.
The whole thing is flat out exhilarating. The physical, the mental, the emotional… All of it.
So while I cannot predict the exact results of Sunday’s race, I can insist on a return to positive thinking and trust that it will foster a good experience. I can support my little brother and our nephew for their incredible efforts. I can thank my husband for supporting me in mine. And I can love and honor the people for who I am running, the rescue workers and morgue workers:
Thanks for listening to me sort this thing out. The big irony here is that running has become my stress reliever and at this eleventh hour, no matter how stressed I am, I’m not supposed to run anymore, just rest and stretch till Sunday.
Continue to pray for the city of Boston, and when you wake up Sunday morning send me some positive vibes!
“Winning is not bout headlines and hardware (medals).
It’s only about attitude. A winner is a person who goes out today
and every day and attempts to be the best person he can be.
Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism,
and never, ever, ever giving up.”
~Amby Burfoot, Editor-at-Large, Runner’s World