Exactly how does one prepare for a marathon?

You review you training logs and gain confidence from the hours and miles you have logged over the last few months…..or you could be like me and throw in a few miles in the morning as a penance for blowing off one too many long runs, cross your fingers and hope for the best.

You carefully select clothes that have no seams to irritate you, shoes that are broke in, but not too worn and plenty of body glide…….or you can be like me and pick up a pair of on sale Saucony’s tonight at Rack Room and wear them over the next 24 hours including a short run in the morning ( the one that is a Hail Mary for your lack of long runs and let it double as a new shoe break in run). I will however have my stick of body glide…lessons learned the painful, blistered way.

You analyze the layout of the daunting 26.2, noting water stations and planning where to use your GU……or you could be like me and throw some candy corn in your pocket and wait until the 11.5 mile split to see how much I’ve got in me before I commit to all 26.2 miles.

You call ahead to see what  restaurant has room for all 15 in your party and is serving a carb rich meal like vegetarian pasta primivara…….or you could be like me and pick up a Lunchable at Kroger and wash it down with a  Diet Pepsi and ibuprofen.

You can make sure your watch is set exactly  to go off when you cross the start line and time each mile pace so you can keep an estimate of your finish time….or you can be like me strike of conversation with other middle-aged runners as we amble 4 blocks to the start line, forgetting to check your start time. You could try to mentally calculate for the first few miles, then just screw it by mile 4 and enjoy the ride.

You could stay focused on each upcoming mile marker as a goal to accomplish….or you could engross yourself in your audiobook on iPod and hope that the suspense of who killed Mr. Dudley in your James Patterson book keep you from noticing that your legs are cramping and you are nauseous at mile 17.

You could finish and feel the pain and fatigue and swear you will never do it again….or you could be like me, find your pals, who finished long before you, and are now laying in the park listening to the bands, stretching their muscles and drinking their chocolate milk.  You could sit with them and laugh and cry, and tell each other how awesome it is that you ran that many miles. You could let the fatigue wash over you but not before you make plans to eat somewhere good….really good….after you all nap.

Marathons are about goals and preparation, but mostly they are about enjoying your gift of running. It’s about friendships with your running pals, and the guy at mile 19 that talked you into walking for just a minute. It’s about knowing that you are strong. It’s about wanting to do what not everyone else does.  It’s about knowing that your best thinking is done when your brand spanking new Saucony’s are hitting the pavement. It’s about watching the sunrise, and not letting yourself stop just because you’re tired. It’s devastating and exhilarating, and only runners really understand it.

So tonight, I wish the best of luck to those fellow runners, my princess warriors who understand it and love it and curse it in the same breath. Cason, Angie, Leah, Bonnie, Lindsey, Tina, Courtney and those two fearless  fellows that we let join us, Scott and Jason….I’ll see you at the finish line.

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