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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Mantra for a Marathon Implosion

Time spent on book: 5 hours
What I did: Heroes
Grade for the day: B-



Almost done.. almost done... almost done... FINISH ALREADY!

No annoying "earworm" for the Erie Marathon this weekend. That was a relief. 

But I did have a marathon mantra, which isn't a bad thing. I pilfered it from Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run. At one point, the infamous Caballo Blanco is giving McDougall some running advice when he says... 
Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a shit how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one – you get those three, and you’ll be fast.
I always liked this progression of words. They feel like they match the ideal rhythm of running. So this weekend, I started deploying this mantra at around mile 6 or 7. 


Easy. Light. Smooth. Fast.

This is the point in the race where  the euphoria wears off and I'm just running. It's also the place where the gambling starts. In my head, I'm making a bet that my present pace is the right pace. So the currency of my marathon wager is carbohydrates, electrolytes, and fatigue. 

Once I reached halfway, I decided that it was time to open up a bit. I had been running 5 to 10 seconds per mile off of what I thought I could do. So I pressed onward.


Easy. Light. Smooth. Fast.

Then at mile 19 I could feel my pace slowing slightly. I didn't have that extra gear anymore. By mile 23, things began to unravel.

Suddenly, my mantra just changed.  

If You're Moving, You're Finishing

Over and over again, I told myself this as I squinted to see the next mile marker. But I didn't intentionally change my mantra. It just happened. It's as if the mantra gods knew exactly what I needed to hear. 

If You're Moving, You're Finishing

I refused to glance down at my GPS. I didn't want to know my pace. I didn't want to know how much time I had been running. I just wanted to be finished. To take a shower. And to not be running. 

If You're Moving, You're Finishing

I got passed. A lot. And there wasn't a damn thing that I was going to do about it. When three or four people passed me in the final quarter mile, I didn't even bother trying to keep up. "Good for you," I thought. 


If You're Moving, You're Finishing

Finally, the finish line appeared. My mantra proved true. 

This was my fifteenth marathon finish. I can't complain with the result, even though the time wasn't what I had hoped for. It's been nearly three years since I completed a marathon. So my first goal was to finish. 

Mission accomplished. 

In a few days, I'll be back to running. And I suspect that in a few weeks, I'll be signing up for a spring marathon. The goal, again, will be to finish. Doing this is no small task. To prepare for a marathon and to keep healthy and happy takes discipline, focus, and good luck. 

But still.... having the same mantra for the entire race would be nice--preferably the one from Born to Run, of course.

Happy trails, friends.

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