Day 154: The Marathon is What You Make Of It

Well, today is Wednesday, three days after the California International Marathon. I did not run… and that’s ok.

Before I go into that, I appreciated taking four days off from blogging. Especially with the intensity of race weekend, it was nice not having to lay my thoughts down here each day.

Now that I’m on the other side of CIM, I’m glad to say I am doing well. It helped to have a new purpose on race day. When I let go of being a participant I became a supporter for my friend Erik, who was on a mission to complete his first marathon (he did). In the process of supporting him, I got to experience race day without the stress of actually running it!

This was revelatory. Charr and I went out to about mile 15 to meet up with Erik. My wife did a live video on Instagram and I took in the crowd of 4:20-and-slower runners cruising by. There were many people walking, and overall, it felt like I was seeing the relaxed version of CIM for the first time. It occurred to me that last year I spent every single moment of training, and of the marathon itself, pushing myself with an intense and ambitious goal to set a PR (personal record). While this was an incredible experience, looking back on it, I believe I was burnt out afterwards. This is fine, except that my head was such a mess after the marathon that I never got clear on what I wanted next. Instead, I was riddled with confusion, including a lot of anxiety to immediately continue marathon training. Failing to really know where I was at, I impulsively signed right back up for this year’s CIM.

And we know how that turned out 🙁

So anyway, seeing the relaxed version of CIM was like seeing the missing pieces of the puzzle of what CIM can be. As I have written before, my marathon training experience has been a continual process of intentionally slowing down and reducing the intensity of training. Despite these efforts, I was still quite stressed out about this year’s upcoming CIM. It’s quite possible this stress caused me unconsciously to pull the plug on my running the race at all.

With Sunday’s relaxed spectator experience, I now have a new experience of what CIM can be. It doesn’t have to be a super-hard, super-fast, super-stressful fight to the finish line. Later in the morning I went to the finish line and watched the 5 hour finishers. They looked equally happy with their accomplishment as the 4- and 3-hour finishers no doubt were. I saw several other runners I know finish in the 5:10 to 5:20 range. I was proud of them.

And I got a lesson that whether it’s a leisurely jaunt or an intense run-for your-life, the marathon is what you make of it.

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