I’m on the plane heading to Cleveland as I write this. Go ahead and tally “redeye cross country flight two days before the race” to the list of bonehead things I’ve done this training cycle. Mid-packer life, man.

These last few days have been a complicated mess of thoughts and feelings. There’s been bailout strategizing interrupted by stars-align, miracle run daydreaming. Fiery eyes and furrowed brow give it all the hell you’ve got determination slowly softened by the idea of a casual stroll through the city on two feet, full of high fives and selfies and maybe stopping for a beer along the way. Imagining the feeling of fresh legs and then the crushing pain of what’s beneath the surface of the injury iceberg I haven’t scratched yet.

*remembers that thing about manifesting your own destiny, steers around injury iceberg*

I wanted to run this marathon because I wanted to make amends with long distance running. Over-training, racing, and chasing arbitrary goals left me bitter on running, and the marathon in particular, which is why I haven’t attempted the distance in almost five years. Truthfully, I’ve kind of avoided starting lines altogether. I didn’t want that gnawing at me anymore – I wanted to be part of the sport, both recreationally and competitively (for me), without some old baggage from unfulfilled goals tarnishing every step. I was ready to move on, and my hometown race – the one that started this whole running thing in the first place – seemed like the perfect place to make it happen.

Getting injured was certainly not part of that plan, and really ruined the whole romantic Hollywood movie script thing I saw unfolding in my brain early on. Just imagine… steadily pounding the pavement, supreme focus broken only to wipe the forehead sweat and acknowledge a familiar face in the crowd… watching the ebb and flow of struggle and strength… the triumphant fists up finish line, Rocky style, but instead of the Philly Museum steps it’s the Blue Angels flying over the Cleveland skyline, all my friends and family cheering me on with tears in their eyes and beers in their hands, and maybe the Cavs stopping on their way to pre-game shootaround to congratulate their fellow NE Ohio athletes on a job well done…

*wakes up stretched all the way across row 15 to the news we’ve landed in Cleveland*

*casually wipes drool off face*

There’s still hope for that goal, the marathon reconciliation one. Maybe the Cavs at the finish line one too, but that might be a stretch. So what if it’s not head over heels back in love right away. I’ll take slow baby steps, as long as we’re going in the right direction.

If I make it through all 26.2 miles they’ll need to be slow anyhow.

 


Week Twelve:

THE WORKOUT RACE PREP

I’m no expert but I’m guessing I lost a decent amount of fitness not being able to run for more than 20 minutes at a time this last month. My hip’s still pretty naggy and all the body work and pt exercises have me sore and a little jacked out of what I’m used to running feeling like, but hey! Fresh legs?

Old Sarah would’ve been real butt-hurt about the lost potential and “wasted” training in getting injured – I know that because Old Sarah has done that before, and she’s a real whiny bitch about it. New Sarah is bummed because more than anything else in her runner heart right now, she want to run 26.2 miles happy, proud, and without wanting to chuck her Brooks in the river immediately after crossing the finish line.

New Sarah also likes talking in the third person, and long walks on the beach.

However Sunday plays out and regardless of how water-logged my shoes get (it’s supposed to rain, so odds are in favor they’ll be pretty damp no matter what) I have some mooshy gratitude things to get off my chest.

To the people who’ve gotten me here…

Fleshman for your guidance, endless inspiration, and funny workout names. Your ability to disguise a barn burner of a workout as approachable and non-threatening is an overlooked item on your long list of impressive traits.

Friends who shared long runs, workouts, or easy run miles with me. Your company was integral in rekindling the run-love spark, plus you’re more fun to talk to than Spotify.

You reading for following along, sharing your own stories, and unknowingly holding me accountable each week. Aint no way I was skipping a rep knowing I’d have to tell you all about it.

Lastly, my mom for being my virtual training buddy, using the east coast/west coast time difference for motivational “just finished my long run!” texts as I was heading out, and for strong-arming me into coming back for this race in the first place. Wanna share a few miles on Sunday? I’ll race ya to the beer garden…

– Sarah, the Mid-Packer