I've been spending some time on my long runs lately wondering what’s going to happen at the Boston Marathon. My past 2 marathons haven’t gone exactly as planned. In each, my calves were left shredded like Dolphins in a tuna can. (Save the Whales! Yes, I've chosen a side.)
With each race, I've cautiously approached the start like a kitten tiptoeing to a saucer of fresh milk.
What’s going on here?
My main metaphorical artery is clogged. Cripes. I need 40 cc’s of Shel Silverstein STAT!
I've determined that my marathon experience usually travels a range of emotions starting and ending with happiness. Those middle areas? Well, they’re like…like…bad…or something. (I’m going to need a booster shot of Kafka also.)
So, I’d like to relive these stages for you now. Here in my forum. Perhaps you stopped by for more discussion on Huey Lewis and have no interest in running? Perhaps you are now considering leaving. Perhaps, you know, you should just shut up about it and read on. There is a lesson to be learned here whether or not you are a runner or baker or needle pointer or reality TV star or, anything, really. The lesson? Nitmos don’t like miles 18-22. Take that and apply it to your own career or hobby. And you’re welcome.
With the metaphorical medicine working its metaphorical magic, I wish to liken each stage to that of a metaphorical relationship. **
My typical marathon in 5 easy to read stages.
Stage 1: Dating
The first few miles are exciting. Lots of new people. Lots to see and do (again, metaphorically, as really, you are just running). Everything is new and fresh. Hope abounds. What could go wrong? Depending on the size of the race, this is also the closest anyone will come to being part of an actual stampede.
Stage 2. The Honeymoon
Somewhere around miles 5-11, you've chosen your mate, er, pace. You are feeling pretty strong. The world is your Hello Kitty purse (let’s not get into this issue here). This marathon thing isn't so bad. The aid station water even tastes like a Bahama Mama served at a poolside Jamaican all-inclusive resort. You can imagine the stunned looks on your friends’ faces when you sprint out that 26th mile in 5:30, grab your banana (maybe a Fig Newton) and circle back to the start shouting over your shoulder that your are “going for a second lap”.
Stage 3: Career
In these middle miles, time has flown by. Where did the time go? Here you were savoring every mile just a short while ago and now you have become so distracted by career (the first signs of exhaustion) and family (my legs hurt) that you barely notice your sagging gut (knees hurt) and serious demeanor (serious demeanor). You've settled in now. It’s a haul but you are still up for it.
Stage 4: Trial Separation
At some point after mile 18, all of the aches and pains suddenly hit. I hate this marathon. Where did the marathon I was dating go? You're thinking you don’t want anymore to do with it. The water now tastes like the collective spit of the aid station workers rubbing their hands together with a chorus of mwahahahas. Also, somewhere in this range, you typically fight the urge to punch a smiling spectator in the throat (at least, I do. I don't want to speak for everyone else.)
Stage 5: Renewed Vows
By mile 22, the worst has passed. All of those problems you had in the last stage were merely symptoms of a mid race crisis. You worked through it. You're looking forward to the finish now. Of course, since this is a race and not an actual relationship, you didn't get to own a Corvette, get a Gold’s gym membership, and wear gold chains and a muscle shirt during the last stage. You did, however, lose all feeling below the waist. So, in some respects, it’s the same.
By the time you cross the finish line, you're once again exhilarated and content. It was worth it! Now comes the post-race stage (Kids), where you’ll find non-stop aches and pains for the foreseeable future.
I expect to be in mid-race crisis somewhere in the Newton Hills of the Boston Marathon. If you are there and see a half crazed, Dolphin-hating runner, with an angry look in his eyes, cover your throats. Fair warning.
** I realize some of these “metaphors” may actually be “similes”. If you noticed, this is another thing you can shut up about. **
** I also realize I have been using footnotes way too frequently. Guess what? I’m going to continue to use them starting with here. **
** Here **
** And here.