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Showing posts from October, 2010

Baystate Marathon

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The usual race report begins at the beginning of the race, and it tells the race in chronological order. But anyone who has raced hard and raced well knows that a race does not unfold chronologically. The beginning of the race happened long before the gun. But it also happened at mile 21. And it began again at somewhere between mile 24 and 25. Or did it begin long ago, with that very first race, or that first 6 minute mile, the first time I dreamed of being fast, faster, the fastest?

The beginning of the race is multiple, really. Each race has many beginnings.

The beginning at mile 25.2. There was a clock there with a mile to go, and it read 2:30:00, as I passed it. Anyone who has been reading this blog with consistency knows that this is a number with great weight for me. All runners have their totemic numbers. This is one. Another is 6, as in 6 minutes, the pace I had been struggling to hold since mile 20. At mile 25.2, I raced to run the last mile under 6 minutes. This would keep ali…

Anticipation

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One more cup of coffee for the road,
One more cup of coffee before I go,
To the valley below. -- Dylan

The anticipation is both sweet and sickening, and it colors the normality of life with a kind of filmy sheen. I'm not just talking about tapering, which is known for inducing madness in the marathoner. The cutting back does cause a strain, to be sure. A mind accustomed to pressing, focused intently on a goal, freely working as hard as it can, suffers a bit when asked to pull back. It tugs like a dog on a short leash.
But to identify a change in training as a source of madness is to miss the madness entirely. The key to understanding it is the fact that the madness is worst when everything has been done well. You've got these legs like coiled vipers, a heart thumping deep like a cantaloupe. You inhabit a world that spins about blissfully ignorant of the singular powers you have created. It's out of that peculiar dissonance between the ordinariness of life and the extraordin…