Sometimes I feel like running this marathon is fate. It is a fate I have tried to deny, but in the end it won out.
And, like everything for people of my generation, I waited until the last minute, until the window of possibility was almost closed, and now I am going to try to tinker with nature and sneak through that closing window...
I waited until the last possible minute to get married, and the last possible minute to get pregnant. I have tried to leave every option open for as long as possible, until the option itself is about to disappear.
I am the daughter of a a man who ran before running was hot. My father started running in the early Seventies so he could eat butter. He wore flat shoes that wore out fast. He has had yellow runner's toenails for as long as I can remember. As a child I rode beside him on my bike as he ran through Mystic. He would push me up the hills when I got tired.
Amby Burfoot, the legendary runner, whose words now appear as a blurb on every real runner's book, used to run by our house in Mystic when I was a child. He had won the Boston Marathon and he would sprint down Noank Road in bare feet, with nothing but a pair of skimpy seventies running shorts, with a big beard. He looked like the Indians we heard used to live in the woods around our house. He had a long, beautiful stride and we would rush to the edge of our yard and watch him go flying by. A clump of slower runners, less beautiful, with shoes on, would come huffing along behind him.
When I was still in elementary school my father decided he would run a marathon. He was still on a submarine, on land for only three months at a time. So he started training on board the submarine, running in place in some grey corner on his submarine. I imagine him trying not to bump his head or his six foot frame on the pipes and doorways inside the ship. When he got home he trained for three months, then ran.
I did not go to the marathon itself. But I remember my mother driving him home. He lay prone in the back of our Vega station wagon, his legs sticking out the back like a big corpse. He could not walk for days. He is in the camp that believes if you cannot run a marathon in the threes, why bother.
Then there are my Ironman Aunt, Uncle and cousins. My Aunt and Uncle co-created the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. Doing grueling long distance events seems to be normal for them. They are slow. But they keep pushing it.
Every cool friend I have known, practically, has done a marathon.
And Wellesley, my alma mater, was the half way point for the Boston Marathon. On the way to college my mother and I sat beside a man on our transcontinental flight. He asked where we were going.
I said, "Wellesley. You probably haven't heard of it..."
And he said, "Wellesley.." I thought he would go off about the brilliant women who had graduated, how his mother had gone there, all the things that people who know Wellesley say.
But he said, "I love Wellesley. It is the half point of the marathon and those women have saved my life. They are young and beautiful and at mile 13 they surround you and cheer for you and it is so incredible it keeps you going to the end..."
I ran the half marathon for two years after that, just to experience that Tunnel of Love. It was like a hallucinogenic experience. One year I was on such a high after the screaming, beautiful women that I kept running and forgot to stop for two more miles.
I digress. But the point is, though training for this marathon has taken far too much of my time and life, to the point that I am ignoring some other important things--I do feel like I have been working towards this point for a long time. A lifetime.
And it feels so good to be back at the top of my game, doing something I have never been able to do before. At 44.
Whatever happens now, and I pray my body holds strong, already this training, these miles, have been a victory, a gift.
1 year ago