I'm not quite there yet, but for all intents and purposes I'm on the starting line for the 2011 San Francisco Marathon. At 35,000 feet of cruising altitude I'm on my way to the west coast.
As I left home this morning, Sally reminded me that my training had gone well. Indeed, it had. I missed only a single run of 3 miles, and that happened very early on. I made a couple schedule changes to work around busy weekends, but those went smoothly, too. In the end it went 99.7% well, from a mileage standpoint.
My 53 year-old body held up okay. As I age I have noticed that no two days feel exactly the same way physically. The first few steps out of bed give me an indication of which muscle, bone or joint is going to bark: hip, toe, back, neck, or shoulder. Yes, all gave me a twinge or two over the last 4.5 months of training, but none stopped me and I have no complaints. I am running, and I know that others cannot.
Remarkably, I can only remember one really rainy day during this time around. It was a hot Wednesday morning as I "commuted" to work. That particular route is hard and virtually shade-free so the drizzle kept me cool and comfortable. But, most of the time my training was done in dry, hot conditions. Dry--being a bit of a relative term during a Northern Virginia summer--only means it's not raining. Humidity, though, was almost always my running partner.
As with any long term activity, I did hit a motivational snag or two. I'm good at setting goals and plans and sticking with them, but I'm human, too. There were days where I wanted to turn around and go back home. There was one 20-miler that tanked at 14. There were more than a few days where my stomach wouldn't cooperate.
Am I confident? Well, I absolutely know I will finish unless something out of my control happens. There are variables, of course, to contend with, and big hills on the San Francisco course. Sometimes, you just have an off day. But I can deal with that because so much of the marathon is done before you ever take a step on race day. I'm planning to bring home a medal, but if I somehow don't, well, I'll be okay with that.
Through it all, I had my vision of what it will be like to step on the finish mat and register my time. It's that last step that matters to me, though, not the clock. I will be thinking of Sally at that moment. She is the reason I have done all of the bike rides and runs over the last eighteen years. Her love motivates me, and I hope that these things I do help in some way to secure a healthy life for her long into the future.
I'll meet you at the finish.