Friday, October 31, 2008

And it begins

This morning I packed my bag. And, following the John Bingham method, I have four pairs of shorts, 3 shirts and 3 pairs of socks -- along with a pair of running gloves. You know, just in case. Why I would need gloves while wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts is beyond me. But it COULD happen =0) I do also have my running jacket in the car, but no current plans to use it. 

Next to my bag of clothes is the pile of other things I'll need -- Body Glide (to prevent blisters on feet), bottle of Tropical-flavored Hammer Gel and gel flask (for quick-acting carbs along the run), couple packages of Recoverite (right carb-protein ratio for better recovery AFTER the race), a couple of Espresso-flavored Hammer gel packs in case Tiffany wants them. And, of course, hair ties to pull my hair back. 

In my car, I have the running cap I got at the St Louis half -- in case I need shielding from rain. 

Over lunch, I plan to visit the grocery store and pick up bananas, kid's clif bars and more pasta. 

When 5 hits, I'm out of here -- on my way to Springfield for race weekend. 

It is absolutely amazing how quickly all this has gone. Last night I realized one of the lessons running has taught me is that those points in the distant future come all too quickly. And that there is always something beyond that point. For the last 6 months or so, my mind has been on this marathon. It has been my focus. In two days it will be over, and my focus will shift to something else. Strange thought.

I've also come to realize that Paul knew nothing about long distance racing. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24). 

In truth, all those who have put in the training and run with the finish line in mind receive the prize. Of course, now adays, that is just about literal, since all those who complete the race receive a finisher's medal. But while I intend to wear that medal proudly, the prize is far beyond it. 

I was explaining to a friend that the non-elites run races to have a shared experience. We could run 26.2 miles on our own, but there is something about joining together and experiencing the run as a community -- encouraging each other to continue, reminding each other of that prize ahead. In some bizarre way, races are like the kingdom of God -- it isn't just about getting to the line, it is about getting there together. There is a "cloud of witnesses" who cheer the runners on and offer beverages to help ensure a well-run race; who tell you "you're almost there, the finish is just up ahead."

Fellow runners who share some of the burden by sharing lives and miles. Everyone believes in the other's ability to finish -- even when believing in your own ability is tough. And through that shared belief, we somehow make it. And when we do, regardless of how long it takes to get there -- we have won the prize. 

And this proves there should be some law prohibiting marathoners from blogging before heading off to a race! See you on the other side =0)