I thought I’d share with you an image of the countdown clock that has been haunting, goading, encouraging me for the last few months each time I open my web browser. It seems like only last week that little clock counted over a hundred days to go before I’d stand with my starting group about to participate in my first marathon. As you can see, now I’m down to four days. In the last few months I’ve logged over 700 miles, gone through a pair of running shoes, turned three toenails black, ingested countless energy bars, hit my head on a low-hanging tree branch, and one time fell down trying to avoid a group of pedestrians. But getting ready to run a marathon hasn’t been all scraped knees and mild concussions. I’ve also had the opportunity to run through fog-shrouded Golden Gate Park in the early morning Sunday hours. It’s often so quiet I felt I had the park and the whole city to myself. Running through the park down toward the Pacific Ocean into a not-so-gentle breeze coming off of the water is probably the closest I’ll come to meditation. My mind can become extraordinarily clear and focused when all I can hear is the sound of my own breathing and the steady beat of my feet hitting the pavement.
And while I didn’t take running up to become more meditative or experience that elusive runners high, I do believe this whole process of training for a marathon has changed me. Of course there are the obvious outward effects like engaging in the grind of stretching and gearing up for the almost daily runs (thanks to the Marathon Training web site and its schedules for providing my training regimen). But there are some not so obvious changes, too. Without detailing a laundry list of thoughts and feelings I will say this training experience has made me more confident and outwardly focused. I’ve begun to look at the world around me differently, and I’ve begun to ask myself what I can do to help affect change. I hope I can take the training discipline preparing for this marathon has engendered within me and take up other challenges to help the community around me. I’m not making any promises, but I hope when I cross that finish line this Sunday, it’s not the last one I cross.
And check back after Sunday to see how I fared in the race.