We’re on the road driving down to St. George. Erik is full of nervous jitters and I’m feeding him all my best advice, “don’t go out too fast, watch your pace, feed off the energy of the crowd and watch the miles fly by.” It’s his first marathon and he’s going to love it.
Earlier this week I made the hard decision not to run. It shouldn’t have been a debate at all because I truly haven’t trained, am not ready. But I had a secret fantasy that I’d get out on that course that I’ve covered so many times before and suddenly feel like myself again, that the old magic would come back and I’d be able to click off the miles one by one.
Besides being unrealistic, it was a selfish pursuit, one that would keep me from cheering Erik at the finish line and would strand the kids at the hotel until after the race (Ben, my only driver, is staying home for a viola gig).
But as I told Erik, I wanted to ride the bus with him, stand in the port-a potty lines and shuffle to the start with him. The starting line of a marathon is magical— it’s the culmination of months of preparation, hopes and dreams for thousands of people. It’s intense in a way that the finish line never can be, because all the runners stand together. And the rush of those first miles running with the pack!– your feet scarcely touch the ground, pure adrenaline carries you forward.
I’m jealous in a crazy sort of way of the women who will run alongside with him. I know better than anyone that a marathon is about the least romantic spot on earth (sweat, digestive issues, general ick) but in some way I’m afraid he’ll meet the old me, the 31 year old me before my last two pregnancies broke me down, the girl who could RUN.
And of course he reassures me that he’s more than content with the current version, but I miss that girl, I really do.
But as the week has progressed I’ve become increasingly content with my new role on the sidelines. I haven’t had to watch my diet, deal with nerves or stop running. Non-runners might be surprised to hear that the tapering days, the save-your-energy days are almost torturous. As Erik complains, “It makes me sore NOT to run.” And yet I’ve been able to run nearly every day this week and go to my boot-camp class this morning without worry.
I have lots of other friends to cheer at the finish line too–Taylor, Lisa, Ruth, Julie, Shelah. Julie, my Monday running partner (she uses it as a slow day; for me it’s speedwork), is predicted to win the women’s division. And you know, I’d really like to see her break that finishing tape.
Running the canyon this week I passed a man limping along the trail. Our eyes met and he said, “I wish I could run like that.”
“Yep,” I replied, “I’m pretty lucky.”
And I know I am.
So, I’ll be there, freshly showered, my morning run behind me, 5 kids in tow, ready to cheer until my throat hurts, take photos and get sweaty hugs.
I won’t be jealous. I promise.