So here we are….48 hours away from a Marathon. I’m reflecting on the words that a friend of mine offered me on Monday of this week after discovering that I had signed up for the Lansing Marathon: “What on Earth made you think that this was a something you should do?” A fair question to be sure. This particular friend hadn’t seen me in over 3 years. He was with me during the period of my life when 2AM Friday nights, 4 martini lunches, and 2 packs of cigarettes per day were the norm. I’ll admit to the fact that if I were him, my thinking would have been much the same. By all accounts, the idea of me being at the start line on Sunday doesn’t make sense. Maybe the 5k, but the full 26 point freakin’ 2 miles? There is a glitch in the Matrix here.
I’ve already posted why I started running in the first place so I’m not going to rehash here, but for those who don’t know, I’m hardly the poster-boy for what a runner should look like. (previous post link here) The weirdest part about this whole journey is that I didn’t see it coming. If you had come to me one year ago and said, “you’ll run a marathon next year. And you’ll have fun doing it.” I would have cocked my head to one side, lit a cigarette, and calmly asked what mind-altering substances you were on. One year ago there was no way I could ever have seen myself running this. One year ago I would have said there was no way, NO WAY, I would even casually entertain the thought or doing something like a marathon. Why would any sane person do something like that? What kind of a crazy person would look at 26.2 miles of road and say, “F#$@ the car, I can totally get some gym shoes out and run this!”
And then I went running with my friends Jojo and Justin. (see first post) And then Schmitt joined us. And then we did a race and Andrea Poole joined us. And then we started meeting every Monday night to run. And then we moved up from 5ks to 8ks. And then Tim Davis came along one Monday night and has been there for nearly every run since. And then Dishaw joined us for a run and we saw what a real runner looks like. And then we signed up for the Capital City River Run Half Marathon and conquered it (and then conquered more than a case of beer afterwards). And then Holly started running and became faster than we could have ever imagined. And then Barb showed up and brought friends. And we did some more races. And then we kept running every Monday night despite the fact that the temperature was 28 degrees with snow and ice some nights. And then Craig, who I hadn’t seen since High School, joined the fray and I got to reconnect with someone who I always admired. And then it seemed like running was something that I was SUPPOSED to do. And then it didn’t seem so crazy to sign up for something like this……and then I asked myself, “Why WOULDN’T you do this?”. And by then, the credit card was out and I was signing up.
My decision to go down this road wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment impulse. It was a product of everything I’ve experienced in this running group. The longer the 4 Founders met up and ran, the more people joined us. The more people joined in, the more fun it was. The more fun it was, the longer we wanted to run. So 3 milers became 6 milers and the 6 milers became 10 milers, because you’ve got to see if you can last that long…because you’ve already done 6 miles and you KNOW you can do that…..
I looked back on “Quit Smoking” date, and realized that it synched up with the Lansing Marathon day, and it was fate. I HAD to do this, if only to prove to myself that I was capable of doing it. It’s what I’ve learned from the last 10 months of this group: the fact that I’ll never be mistaken for an elite athlete is no reason not to push myself towards something worth reaching for. In my own case, better fitness, less weight, no more smoking, an improved outlook on life, and a sense of accomplishment that I never thought would be mine. The rally-point here is that you should be moving forward in life towards something….otherwise you’re just marking time and taking up space.
And then Monday happened. And my whole running group watched the news from the Boston Marathon. And we posted on Facebook that we were all in each other’s thoughts on that day. And then we met up and went running, as a group and as a family. We made plans to honor those affected by the tragedy in Boston in our own way, and, separately, pledged to go through with our Marathon plans because that is how it should be. Then we took some time out of the next couple of days to support one another and wish each other well. Much like the entire nation is doing for Boston and the community of runners affected by the tragedy there.
The race, the Human Race, will go on. And on Sunday, we plan on being the part of it that RUNS…..that runs because it’s something that feels good; because we CAN. Because it offers us the freedom to test ourselves and accomplish something that (one year ago in my case) we could only dream of.
April 21st will be one year to the day that I quit smoking. This marathon was supposed to be a symbol to myself of how far I’ve come in a year. And yet that doesn’t seem to matter that much to me now. The Lansing Marathon has now become a very personal undertaking for the entire Monday Night Hangovers crew; whether Half-Marathon, Relay team for the Full Marathon, or helping the Heavy-set-yet-still-incredibly-sexy former smoker out in his attempt to run the full 26 point freakin’ 2 miles. We’re headed out there on Sunday to run, because we want to cheer and support one another. We’re headed out there on Sunday to run, because life demands that you test yourself every once in a while. We’re headed out there on Sunday to run, because life is way too short to take it slow.
Speaking personally, I’m headed out there on Sunday to see if I can do this. I want to see if I can push myself through something that I would have thought impossible one year ago. And while I’m doing this on my own two legs, I’ve got a big group of amazing people who’ve volunteered to run a couple miles with me to help get me to the finish line. A family of runners, if you will, that’s rallying around one of their own who is going to need some help. As we all need help from time to time to get through challenging moments in life. As Boston needs a little support and help right now.
When I look at the number 26.2 on a piece of paper, I’m totally convinced that I won’t be able to do this. And then I remember that I won’t be running it alone. Schmitt’s with me miles 1 to 3. Andrea is there from 3 to 4. Craig will be there with water and a slow and steady pace from miles 5 to 9. Holly’s waiting for me at mile 10 to 15 (which will be when I need her the most). Jess is going to “suffer” (as she puts it) with me through miles 17 to 21. And Jojo (who started this whole crazy thing) will be there with a smile on her face and a bottle of Powerade at mile 22 to take me to the finish line (picking up a few people along the way at miles 23 and 24). With this much support, I can’t possibly fail. With this much support, NOBODY could fail.
The Marathon’s coming. And this ex-smoker is going to toe the line and slay this, but certainly not by myself. I’m coming for that finish line, and my family’s coming with me. And when we get there, it’s going to be one helluva party!
See you on Sunday.
(if you’re curious, I’ll be the guy who crosses the line around 1pm with BEER written on his socks…._)
Post by Tim Nester. Father, Husband, Broadcaster, Cook, taster of many beers, lover of life. Senior Founding Member of Monday Night Hangovers. Follow On Twitter at timnester.