from mile to marathon

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.
Lao-Tzu

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

the last six miles

When I first embraced the idea of smiling at mile twenty, I had no idea what that implied.

I had not yet run ten miles. A year later, when I ran my first marathon at Shiprock, I was just as clueless. I hit the wall at mile twenty, without any inkling about the wall awaiting to be hit. Only afterwards did I learn that muscle reserves get depleted thereabouts, and from then on, unless you fuel wisely, you are running on empty. Yes, I was that ignorant.

I thought the smile at mile twenty bloomed from the twenty miles left behind. With so much terrain already covered, the last six miles would inevitably follow, because it did not make sense to falter at that point.

Now I know that is the point where one is prone to falter.

Only now I know that the smile at mile twenty arises from the anticipation of the territory ahead. With a little bit of judicious training, twenty miles, more or less, are a given. It is the stretch beyond this virtual breaking point that we cherish. At the core of our being, the prospect of running further is not what we dread. It is what we relish. It justifies why we are there, on track, undeterred, running. It is what we run for.

The pure motivation to smile.

5 Comments:

At 8:44 AM, Blogger Backofpack said...

I find the miles from 12 to 18 to be the hard ones, I smile at 20 because I know no matter how awful I might feel, I can knock out six miles. It's the middle, the "will I ever get there" middle, that is my struggle.

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger Annette said...

Smile big, girl! You are an awesome marathoner. I imagine you laughing at mile 20 soon. :)

 
At 8:51 AM, Blogger robtherunner said...

I hope you are smiling at mile 20 and 26.2.

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger Black Knight said...

I agree with Rob, the best smile is at mile 26.2 Here we call the crises of the 32nd km, from there the braim becomes the main "actor".

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger Darrell said...

this is one of the best explanations of the last 6.2 I've read. I hope you can relish the last 6.2 at Shiprock once again.

 

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