There is no luck involved in finishing the Marathon. The ingredients required to tackle this formidable challenge are straightforward: commitment, sacrifice, grit, and tenacity. Plain and simple.
So you set about your training to prepare your body for the rigors of running 26.2 miles. You refuse to compromise, dedicating yourself wholeheartedly to the contest ahead, pouring everything you’ve got into it. But you know the Marathon will demand more. In the dark recesses of your mind a gloomy voice is saying, you can’t. You do your best to ignore this self-doubt, but the voice won’t go away.
The Marathon rattles you to the core. It deconstructs your very essence, stripping away all your protective shields and exposing your inner soul. When you are at your most vulnerable, the Marathon shows no mercy. The Marathon tells you that it will hurt you, that it will leave you demoralized and defeated, crushed and lifeless in a heap alongside the roadside. The Marathon tells you that you can’t. “Ha!” it torments you, “In your dreams…”
But you fight back and try your best. Poised courageously at that starting line, nervously awaiting the starting, you wonder what the day will hold in store. As the crowd surges forward, you put your head down and step into the abyss, knowing honestly in your heart of hearts that you either paid your dues or that you skimped along the way. There is no lying to yourself here, the Marathon sees right through excuses, shortcuts, and self-transgressions. The Marathon doesn’t just build character, it reveals it.
All goes well for the first half. But slowly, step-by-step, the pain mounts and the intensity of the endeavor amplifies. You remain steadfast, knowing that you did not skimp, that you did not take shortcuts, that every footstep was earned through months of rigorous preparation and hard work. Still, with each draining thrust forward, that little nagging inclination of self-doubt in the back of your mind progressively advances into your awareness.
Then, at mile 20, the voice looms louder than ever. It hurts so bad you want to stop. You must stop. But you don’t stop. This time, you ignore the voice, you tune out the naysayers who tell you that you’re not good enough, not strong enough, not made of the right stuff. You listen only to the passion within your heart and this burning desire tells you to keep moving forward, to continue putting one foot in front of the other to the best of your ability.
Courage comes in many forms. Today you will have the courage to keep trying and to not give up regardless of how dire things become. And dire they do become. At mile 26 you can barely see the course ahead, your vision falters as you teeter precariously on the verge of compete annihilation.
Then, suddenly, the finish line looms large before you. Tears stream down your face as you realize that you may accomplish your dream. Now, finally, after years of torment you can answer back to that nagging voice of uncertainty in your head with a resounding: OH, YES I CAN!
You burst across the finish line and all is forgotten. You are eternally liberated from that prison of self-doubt and limitations that has held you captive your entire life. You have learned more about yourself in the past 26.2-miles than you have previously ever known. You have freed yourself from those chains that bind. Even if you can’t walk for days, never have you been so free.
As they carry you away from the finish line, wrapped in a flimsy Mylar blanket, struggling to keep your head upright, you are at peace. That daunting adversary that has forever haunted you is now your liberator, your fondest ally. You have done what few will ever do, you have done what you thought you could never do, and it is the most glorious, unforgettable awakening ever. You are a Marathoner, and you will wear this distinction not on the medal they place around your neck, but deep inside your heart, for the rest of your god given years. Nothing can ever take this triumph away from you. The gift is yours, eternally. You are a Marathoner.
- Dean Karnazes a runner and a writer
- Dean Karnazes a runner and a writer