For the casual runners out there, I recognize running holds less meaning than it does say for those who’ve developed their personal lifestyles around it. Early on, in my own running career, I knew I’d crossed over the threshold from fan to fanatic when I endured an extended period of injury. At the injury’s onset, I’d been running for several years, and thought I’d experienced just about every soft-tissue running malady there was to be had.
This time, though, no matter what I did, or didn’t do for that matter, the injury just wouldn’t heal. Quite remarkably, after several years (yes, I said years), the issue finally began to resolve itself. And, for many months, I gradually built on a developing fitness base. Nearly a year into my resumed fitness regime, I decided a celebration was in order. My treat would be to run another marathon.
In previous attempts (most recently those which had taken place in the final years leading up to my injury) each had ended in a sub-par performance. For this marathon I’d decided to set no expectations. As part of my training I completed a couple of the requisite twenty mile training runs, but overall ran far fewer miles than I had in preparing for other marathons. On this marathon day, and contrary to the other marathons in which I’d participated, I reveled in the experience. I stood waiting on the starting line, surrounded by thousands of others, conscious of the sea of humanity and acutely aware of those waiting expectantly around me. We were all participating for our own reasons, yet all striving for a common goal.
I started the race running leisurely. With far less training under my belt than that to which I was accustomed, I knew I’d need the energy for the later miles. Remarkably, the race transpired without a hitch, and it was only during the final miles that my endurance began to wane. By then the excitement of the crowd and the anticipation of finishing took over and carried me, like it did so many others, across the finish line. As I completed the final steps, I was suddenly overcome with emotion. A lump rose in my throat and tears suddenly welled up in my eyes, as I crossed the finish line. Once again, I was reminded of the amazing gift that running is.