Get a healthy dose of inspiration at the Two Cities Marathon

  • This was printed in October of 2013 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 24th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

I’ve read in fitness magazines that the best way to reach goals is to announce them.

Tracking your progress publicly makes you accountable, and hearing or reading

encouragement from friends keeps you motivated.

There’s no doubt that I’ve announced my goal, time and time again, in this column

and on social media sites and in person. I’ll say it again: I want to qualify for the

Boston Marathon by running the Two Cities Marathon in less than three hours and

35 minutes.

Sunday is the big day, and 8:12 is my magic number. (I must run an 8:12 per mile

average pace to qualify.)

I feel like there is a lot of pressure on me to qualify, when in reality there is none. It’s

all self-inflicted pressure that I’m feeling. Through this column I’ve met great friends

and acquaintances who’ve told me that I can do it. There are people who’ve told me

they started running because they were inspired by “Mind Over Miles.” Some people

have told me they set bigger running goals or have signed up for races because of

my column.

I feel like if I don’t qualify for Boston, I’m going to let each and every one of those

people down.

I had the same goal for my first marathon, which was 10 short weeks ago. When I

didn’t qualify for Boston, I wrote a column about how great it was to just be able to

call myself a marathoner. I’ve written about setting huge goals, because even if you

fall short you’re still bound to achieve something great.

Well that’s all fine and good, but frankly, I want this story to be different. I don’t

want to miss a BQ (Boston qualifying) time by mere minutes and say “Oh well,

better luck next time,” or “At least I ran a PR (personal record).”

Nope, that’s not good enough. Not this time.

I’ll be genuinely and thoroughly disappointed if the time on that clock at the finish

line says anything greater than 3:34:59.

My coach said he’ll ride alongside me on a bike for the last 15 miles of the race to

keep me on pace and ensure that I qualify.

“I’ve been known to be overly enthusiastic and a pain in the (you know what),” he

told me.

Hopefully his enthusiasm will help me bust through The Wall, should I encounter it.

Every marathoner and even non-marathoners know about The Wall. It’s that place

somewhere between Mile 20 and Mile 23 where physically, mentally and

emotionally you can’t go on. The weak can’t seem to climb over The Wall. They give

up, they drop their pace, they walk, they may even stop altogether.

But the strong know that some walls have doors. Some walls have windows. Some

walls have tiny cracks that, if you hit them with enough force, can make the wall

crumble.

If your wall doesn’t have any of the above, you had better find a ladder, a pole, or a

grappling hook to help you get over that thing.

I’ll be armed with months of training, salt tablets, energy gels, and sheer will. My

friends, family and coach will help me with their arsenal of cheers, signs and

noisemakers along the 26.2-mile route. If that isn’t enough to push through The Wall

and continue on to the finish line, only God can help me.

My best bet is to use the strategy I relied on for my first marathon: If you don’t

believe in The Wall, there won’t be a wall.

For those of you who would like to witness — and be a part of — something

inspirational, head out to Fresno and/or Clovis on Sunday morning. Bring your lawn

chairs, some blankets and your coffee and watch this crazy subculture of long-

distance runners pound the pavement for 13.1 or 26.2 miles.

Make a few witty or encouraging signs. Bring the cowbells, horns and whistles. We

love and appreciate the support.

Visit http://www.RunFresno.com and click on Spectator Info under the Event tab to learn

about road closures, view the course map, and decide where you want to park and

watch the race.

By mid-morning Sunday, I’ll get to call myself a two-time marathoner. Better yet, I’ll

get to call myself a Boston qualifier.

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