Pre-dawn, the day of the race, we were taken by bus from the finish line to the starting line. As we got out of the buses and felt the 5-7 mile wind blowing in our faces, my thoughts turned dark. Thirteen and a half miles on the Bay Bridge Tunnel against a head wind. The only respite was going through the two tunnels.
Wow. It seemed more than I would be able to stand. I decided, then, that I would do the best I could. If I failed, I would fail. The wind was not what I wanted, but it was what it was. I had prepared myself as well as I could. Onward. As it turned out, the head wind undoubtedly cut into my time, but it didn't beat me.
As the race started, many runners took off. I held back and maintained my pace. The timer was at the end of the race, not in the beginning. As it turned out, during the last 10 miles, I passed dozens of runners. One "old-timer" who I was running next to in the beginning had said, "Think how satisfying it will be when you pass runners at the end." He was right.
As well, I learned the value of setting and keeping long-range goals. More than ten years prior, I had written in my Daytimer that I wanted to run a marathon. Four years prior, I got a knee injury that lasted for three and a half years. Had I not kept sight of the goal through those years, it would have faded in oblivion. The worst thing about letting our goals fade is that we "teach" ourselves, over time, not to dream, as dreams never come to fruition. This is a tragedy that we must guard against.
During the race, I kept a clear picture of myself running through the finish line. I was particularly clear in my picture that as I finished, I would be running in good form, not struggling, but running easily and smoothly. This helped and I was able to sprint (or as close an approximation as I could muster) through the Finish.
Finally, during the race, pains appeared and threatened to cause me to quit. I would look at the pain and ask, "On a scale of one to ten, where eight and above is debilitating, what level is this pain?" A three was nothing to worry about. Toward the end when the intensity grew to a seven, I was glad it never got to an eight. Maybe I changed the grading scale a little to suit my purposes. Who knows, eh?
Running the marathon made one thing clear: nothing worth doing comes easily. But making a plan and executing it sure feels good deep down inside.