A couple weeks have gone by now, and I still really haven’t stopped grinning over how much fun I had the morning of the Missoula marathon. I wrapped it up in 1:47 or so, and I felt like a million bucks as I was crossing the finish line. The shoes (http://themissoulamarathon.blogspot.com/2009/04/brians-blog-new-habits-old-friends.html) held up throughout the whole four-month training schedule and came through for me on marathon day. The iPod (http://themissoulamarathon.blogspot.com/2009/06/dead-air.html) was cranking out one winner after another. We couldn’t really have asked for much better weather, and the party at the finish line was pretty boss. Mental note: Find a way to bring a wallet next time so as to get a crack at that massage chair. Goals for next year: Do the full; where a silly hat.
Eva Dunn-Froebig, who’s sort of the Steve-Jobs-hipster-genius-manager-character of Run Wild Missoula, asked me a few weeks ago for a “testimonial” explaining why I became a member of the group. I told her it was for the discipline and camaraderie, etc. The truth, though, is that I joined Run Wild Missoula back in March in order to support my then-wife, who had trained for the half-marathon in 2008, but was sidelined with an injury just weeks before the run. Our marriage this winter was in a pretty rocky place, and I was really keen on finding activities that we could do together on a regular basis, the sort of things that would provide opportunities for growth. Training together for the Missoula Marathon seemed perfect.
We were only a few weeks in, though, when my wife decided she wanted to be divorced. Needless to say, I was pretty devastated. There was a sense in which I had been running primarily for her, and so I wasn’t sure initially that I’d keep it up or even stick around Missoula to run in the race come July. But I’d gone and joined the group. So I kept attending the training sessions twice a week, and I stuck with the additional days of running on my own time. It didn’t take long before those runs became pretty important to me, and hitting the pavement definitely helped me through a few lousy days this spring.
One thing that I really liked on race day was seeing all the signs and sidewalk-chalk notes that friends and family had left for runners along the route. Eva asked me the other week what I was running for. One thing I did while running those thirteen miles was to pick out a name from among those on the signs and then sort of mentally dedicated the next mile or so to that person. If the sign said, “Way to go Theresa,” I’d give her a mental high-five, then spend the next mile running for Theresa. If the sidewalk at mile 10 said, “Go Bob!”, I’d spend the next mile running for my man Bob. It was a good mental distraction.
I remember being kind of shocked when I saw the chalk marker saying I was already at mile 12. There was only one more to go?! I felt unstoppable right then, and the sidewalks along the route were more and more crowded with cheering well-wishers. A Weezer song I really like came on the iPod, and I sped up my pace. I know I was wearing a pretty big grin at that point, and it’s possible I pumped my fist a couple of times. For that last mile of the race, I stopped picking out names from among all the sidewalk signs and chalk-mark encouragements. The last mile I just ran for me.