It’s a sunny day. A little fresh in the early morning, but that’s good. If it gets too warm, I’ll sweat too much and will need to hydrate even more.
It’s difficult not to get overwhelmed at the starting line. Everybody has their neat little dossards. People stretch, jump in place. It’s tense and exciting. But focus is of the essence.
When the gun finally shoots, thousands of feet start pummeling the ground in rythm. Breathe. Take your pace. Empty your mind.
The music in my ears will be my only companion. I’ll have visualized this a million times. A steady pace, a constant look at my feet. Equal steps. Straight legs. Breathe.
I’ll keep at it for an hour and a half, maybe more. It’s almost magic.
The excitement will turn to meditation, then effort, then pain. The wall. I’ll lose my breath, my legs will burn, my back will stiffen. I’ll look at the mileage and completely demotivate. I’ll think there’s no way in hell I’ll finish this.
Then it’ll happen. These images I’m storing every time I meditate will resurface. Hidden pockets of strength and will. Secret mind weapons against the brutality of my undertaking. I’ll clench my jaws for a second, then snap back into pace. Every step will get a bit lighter, up until I’m back to being a constant, steady running machine. That’s it. Keep going.
Mile after mile, I’ll try to glimpse at the surroundings, maybe try and catch a bystander’s supportive gaze, lend an ear to words of encouragement yelled about by the small crowds scattered along the course.
And just when I’m starting to lose hope and fall into despair, when I’m so strained and exhausted that no mind trick or mental strength can keep me going, I’ll see it in the distance. A tall, bright ribbon held up in the air at the end of the course.
From nowhere, a jolt of energy will zap across my legs. An indescribable last resort lift, fueled only by the sight of the finish line, by knowing that if I’ve gotten this far, I can do it. I’ll cross the finish line with a scream, tears in the eyes and a pride no one will ever take away from me.
I’m running a marathon in 2010.