This week Dreamfar Triathlon's Founder and Co-Founder of Dreamfar High School Marathon (DHSM), Coach Vic Acosta writes to the DHSM Team of 2018 who are taking on the 2018 Providence Marathon and Half-Marathon.
There is a period of time after a marathon/endurance/bucket list event in which participants feel a post-race "depression". This may be due for a number of reasons such as glycogen depletion, fatigue, and the concept that you don't have to think about running 24-7. And it also can be due to the sudden disconnect from a group of people who think nothing of running 15 miles on the weekend and that there is no upcoming 15 miler the following weekend. Coaches ofter recommend having a regimen for post race recovery including reconnecting with your running friends, an indulgent diet of all your favorite foods, and getting out there walking and some light running, blah, blah, blah, and blah. Who cares. It's not why I'm writing and frankly you're going to feel what you're going to feel and that is part of your marathon and learning experience. What-evs. I'm sure your coaches have already said all this and they'll say it again when you'll be preferring to have a conversation with a giant Sundae.
Instead let's talk about why you want to get to this post-race fetal position so quickly? Oh yes you are thinking that. Many of you are thinking, "Wow, this time next week I'll be a marathoner/half-marathoner." Let's talk about why when you're at mile 17 you'll be wishing that you were at mile 27 with the 59th bagel of 2018 stuffed into your mouth and a medal around your neck. Let's chat about a finish line that isn't really there yet you want to get to it.
Now the Providence Marathon does actually ave a finish line. It's very festive and there will be many people there. Some will be cheering, some looking anxiously for someone to cheer, and as the day progresses people that will smell like they ran 26 miles (which is one reason why you want to stay on the course and take your time.) There will be a great big "FINISH" banner which means you've reached the other end of the race where medals, the aforementioned bagels, and maybe even some food you may actually want to eat will be. But let me explain why it isn't really there and why you should instead want to feel every minute of the 26 miles instead of want to get to this imaginary finish. By the way that 0.2 miles is fake - you've actually run 26.6 or 26.7 or whatever crazy spaghetti course you actually ran.
They put up this FINISH line because you have school on Monday and people have to go back to work. They put it up so that the police on duty and the road closures both get to go back to what they're supposed to be doing. If not then you'd be running forever. You'd have to eat and go number 2 and sleep sometime ad maybe even finish high school. But you'd run for the rest of your life. And that is the gift of running - you can indeed go on forever. You've been doing it the past 22 weeks or so. And its been hard and fun and a mess and scary and you've been alive in way few get a chance to. You've been struggling and flying, and worried and amazed at what you can do. That FINISH line doesn't end ay of it. In fact I guarantee the following:
- At mile 19 you will hate life.
- At mile 25 you'll be thinking when can I do this again.
- On Monday morning, "It's over. Why can't Dreamfar do other marathon/half-marathons?"
And you don't have to think about any of these things. Really. That FINISH line is a photo-op, a place to meet your friends and family, a place for Jamie to cheer you in. But it doesn't exist in reality. It goes on and on. It's where everyone including DHSM can take a victory lap and say, "We did what we came to do." Bullshit.
When you start that race if it is your first, then it is the first step into a 70 to 90 year run where putting in work means going on (not finishing) and if it is your tenth marathon it means you know exactly what I'm saying here. The FINISH line means nothing.
Don't let that imaginary FINISH line pull you in. Don't wish to be there when you are at mile 14 and don't beg for it at mile 19. You earned the right to be out there on the course and you should take in every foot/meter of the experience: it belongs to you. That ache in your quads, the blisters in your feet, the fatigue: it belongs to you as such or even more than that medal which you'll eventually forget. Yet you'll remember the day you and your teammates went out to do what less than 0.01% of Americans can do and most can't even conceive of. When you're out on the course you are a marathoner. When you reach the FINISH line you will be a finisher and no one, not one person on Earth, ever wants that.
On the ride home you'll know what I mean. After you've taken that first hot shower and had enough fries and shakes you'll see. For 26 mies there was glory and you ain't finished.