This is it, folks. Three days until the 2009 New York City Marathon. I leave tomorrow morning (I'm leeeavin'...on a jet plane...dunno when I'll be back again...actually, that's not true, I'll be back in Michigan on Monday evening).
After 18 weeks of training and hundreds of miles of road under my feet, what are my goals for this, my third marathon?
1. Have fun
2. Have fun
3. Have fun!
That's it. Seriously. I put down "3:55" as my projected finish time when I registered. I'll aim for 4:00 or so, but if I miss it, I won't be upset. This time it's all about relaxing and enjoying the moment. I am thinking of this race as a really long run with 42,000 friends.
At Detroit in 2008 I was a ball of nerves, frightened, clueless, and anxious. It was my very first marathon and I had no idea what to expect. At Cleveland in May of this year I had set such a lofty goal for myself (BQ OR ELSE!) that I was focused to the point of obsession on reaching it and I couldn't let myself enjoy the race.
This time, however...it's totally different. I know what it feels like to run 26.2 miles, so I'm not scared of the distance. I know I will be able to run the entire way. I already qualified for (and was accepted into) the Boston Marathon, so I don't need to freak out about my splits. I'm excited, of course, but I'm primarily very...calm.
I'm taking my camera, my iPhone, and my sense of adventure. I'm going to walk through the water stops, visit the port-a-potty as many times as I need to, find my friends in the crowd, wear my name on my shirt so people yell at me. I want to high-five little kids, take pictures of everything, boogie to the music. I am going to have the BEST RUN EVER.
According to those In The Know, my spot in the Blue bib corrals means I will be on the upper deck of the bridge after the start, and therefore I will avoid being pissed on, unlike the unlucky bastards in the Green corrals who have to run on the lower level of the bridge. This is good. Being sprinkled with other people's whiz is not how I want to start my day.
If anyone is really, really interested in following my progress on race day, there are two ways you can do it. One is to sign up for Athlete Alert, which will deliver my 5K splits to an email address. Additionally, you can also use the Race Day Tracker, which allows you to look at splits on the NYC Marathon web site the day of the race. My bib number is 24783.
I would like to tell y'all a funny story about a long run I had last month. I went out for 18 miles one overcast Saturday morning. I decided to run 9 miles out and back from my house. It was a pleasantly cool day and the first blushes of fall color were beginning to appear on the trees. I was rolling along at about a 9:00/mile pace when I passed a couple of guys who were digging a post hole on the side of the road with an auger. I waved to them and the little kid who was with them for no reason other than I was feeling fine and frisky at mile 4.5 of my run.
I meandered through the countryside, reached the 9-mile point, and turned around. Around mile 13.5 I saw the post-hole-diggers again, who had managed to install a mailbox while I was gone. It had been nearly an hour and a half since I passed them the first time. When I went by they were staring at me with disbelief. I could tell one of them was saying something, so I yanked my iPod earbuds out of my ears and said, "Pardon me?"
"Were you running...THE WHOLE TIME...since we saw you before?"
I chuckled and said, "Yes, I was...well, I'm training for a marathon, and today is my long run day. I'm doing 18 today."
The two men exchanged looks and then one of them said, "I just...can't...I can't even begin to imagine. Well, training for a marathon, I guess that's what you gotta do..."
I laughed again and said, "Yes, it sure is. Fortunately, I love it. I'm at 13.5 and I've got 4.5 more to go!" I waved again, jammed my headphones back in, and moseyed off down the road.
I'll never forget the way that guy said "THE WHOLE TIME." It was priceless.
Edited to add: I still have to pack...