26.2 On My Mind | A Timeline Of A Marathon Day

The stages of a marathon day.

3:30 am | The wake-up call.

Sure it’s race day and there is a lot of excitement, but you didn’t realize your adrenaline would surge before you even stand up.  You tell yourself to calm down. Good luck. Find your legs and start thinking about food.

 

4:00 am | The breakfast of champions.

Early to rise, early to eat. There is nothing like forcing calories down when you’re not hungry at all in the dark while trying to be quiet for any sane person in your house who is absolutely still asleep.  So there you sit in the dark, eating in silence. Totally normal behavior.

 

4:30 | The pre-race ritual.

Maybe you stretch. Maybe you pace the room. Maybe you watch some TV and pretend not to think about the race.  Whatever your thing is, this is the antsiest part of the morning, because it’s too early to get started and too late to go back to sleep.

 

5:00 am | The nerves of travel.

Okay, so maybe the nerves aren’t done.  Roads are closed, duty calls, and you’re pretty positive you missed the race. They obviously changed the start or location and didn’t tell you.  Getting there is such a mental battle. Once the crowd is in sight, the anxiety goes down quite a bit.

 

6:00 am | The final countdown.

Time to hit the bathroom and pray that your regular routine stays...err regular.  We’ve all been there. It’s a long journey out there and a bathroom break, though routine for some can spoil the best of races in a hurry.

 

6:30 | The start of something great.

Anthem. Bang. Go. Go. Go.  Stay relaxed. Don’t trip. Dodge the hero who started way too fast.  Wave to Mom. Smile at the wife. Relax. Relax. Relax.

 

7:00 | The easy part.

Cruise control. Cool weather. Loads of fans make your adrenaline surge as they scream.  Out a little fast, but it’s sooooo easy right now. Man the training has paid off. I'm basically the fastest person alive. Probably going pro. 


 

7:30 | The race begins.

Has it been an hour already?  Talking to friends, taking in the sites, and enjoying the moment have really made the time fly. You finally realize, this kind of hurts. Running isn’t this easy, is it? I guess maybe, I'm better than I thought this time. 

 

8:00 | The halfway point.

Halfway there!  Here you think one of two things and two things only.  1) I feel pretty good still and we’re ALREADY halfway done. Or 2) Everything hurts, I’m dying, and how are we ONLY halfway done?  There is no in between. 

 

8:30 | The lonely part.

Where’d everyone go?  Some speed by. Some fade away and all that’s left is you and the road.  Oh and the sun. Holy hell, when did the sun get so hot? Thoughts start to wander.  I wonder what my family is up to? Do I smell? If I quit right now, would anyone know? Tacos sound delicious? I already hit 2 x goal for steps!

 

9:00 | The really seriously can’t understate how terrible this is part.

You’re alone. You have never sweat so hard in your life.  Your legs are screaming in a chorus with your shoulders, abs, toes, arms, and yeah okay, you get it….everything hurts.  You’re approaching the end. Your body pleads to stop and walk. Your mind fights for every single step forward. Is that the crowd I hear? Probably not. Everyone probably left because you took too long...

 

9:30 | The part where you get to stop.

The finish is within reach.  You find another gear. Sometimes that means you start running instead of walking. Sometimes you’re sprinting. Either way, you can’t explain where it came from.  You cross the line and emotions wash over you. Somehow, despite the complete dehydration you’re crying. Am I smiling and crying? Who am I and what did this race do to me? Everyone is so happy here. Can't they see I'm in literal hell? 

 

11:00 | The part where you can’t function.

Getting to your car is a blur. Getting showered is impossible. Eating is treason to your stomach.  Your high of finishing is long gone and the aches of the battle are starting to present. From here, it’s all about sleep, eating as much as you can, and…

 

12:00 | The part where you do it again.

...planning for the next time you’re stupid enough to do this all again because you will.  You'll say you won't.  You may swear it off for an hour, a day, or a week, but you’ll be back.  

We as humans will never stop pushing ourselves to do the seemingly impossible. There is nothing better than doing something your body tells your mind you can’t do. Only those who have pushed their body this far will understand.  You feel invincible and completely defeated.  I did it.