The times of your life they come and go
Today is another chance to make someone smile
What if you took the time to share and laugh
Would it be so hard if it took an extra while
Each of us go on and on; every day a journey
Looking back way too much and worrying time away
Rather; Live this moment and breathe the air
You'll never regret the time you've shared
Today i awoke and remembered all my friends
Each one a blessing from above and beyond
Caring and laughing; through love and pain
Is it really so bad if nothing can ever change
Go forth my fine child and forage your will
Nothing on God's green earth can match your desire
You will reach the top; I believe in your skill
Let your mind be free and your soul shall never tire.
This is my hometown marathon. Because further west in Washington County & Hagerstown we have not managed to secure a race. Can anyone out there hear me? How about you "Hagerstown Runs" ; anyone? This was Frederick's third year. And they have come a long way and done a terrific job of organizing this one. It is destined to become a classic. The pre-race organization is impeccable. Packet pick-up was painless. The environment and support is overwhelming. Many of the older runners like myself can well remember old races falling through the cracks as R.D's age, or lose interest. I predict this one will continue to succeed and grow. I've never been a fan of integrated relay runners but Frederick makes it work. They pin "relay" signs on the runners backs, so at 22, as the marathon runners are being passed (and quite quickly by those on fresh legs) we are clearly able to see the folks blowing by us are relay runners. All marathon runners know how scattered a minds' thoughts become at 22-24 miles. It can be psychologically devastating if our stressed out minds can't rationalize it. However, no matter how tired we are, we can read the relay signs. So it makes it OK.
The morning of the race was nearly perfect weather wise. Sunny and mid 40's with a nice late spring breeze. Runners were everywhere as the Frederick Keys Minor League Stadium lot quickly filled. Inside my van I was struggling with my toes. Yesterday I ran the "Trail Dawg" Marathon in Newark, DE enjoying seven and one half hours of mud, rain, and hills. Today my feet reminded me that wet socks and pounding create big juicy blisters. I was sore, and tired. And, better yet, I was just 20 minutes from doing it again. The crowd clustered into the starting area as I reluctantly crawled out of my cozy van and joined them. In the back of course. I saw several old friends at the start line and spent the first several miles with them sharing past misadventures and laughs. So many runs with so many friends.
Olde towne Frederick is historic. And pretty. And a bit hilly. But on this day it was dry and sunny; and that made it a great day. Incredibly as my legs loosened up i began to forget about my tender little piggies. The endorphins began to play their old magic on this old man. Suddenly I was cruisin again. Pickin em off...one at a time. And greeting everyone of them. Offering encouragement and gracefully accepting it. "Gee, you look great." We all tell the same old lies. Isn't it wonderful? Don't you just love this time in the marathon? You feel so powerful and mighty the first half; don't you? Well normally yes, but today with just 16 hours between marathons, i was a bit tired. Not exhausted tired, but rather up and down. The good times would come and then my mind would be determined to remind my body of what the heck was going on. And I played that game for miles. It was nice to run upon a Team Slug t-shirt out there. Another old-timer and F.O.C who continues to grind em out. We just smiled at each other. Life just can't get much better than this.
As the fatigue gently shrouded my fading reasonability my feet started to rebel. Suddenly and without warning my toes felt like I was on the Canal at JFK at 40. Concentrating on how pitiful my toes must be looking allowed me to forget how tired i really was. Coming into the half i was fortunate to fall into the Mudd Puddle herself. We chatted the next several miles and the slower pace allowed me to pull my head back on straight. I knew staring down that 9 mile country loop i'd need to get focused. Either that or it would be "Death March City." And i personally wanted to be done. So I bid her farewell and plodded over the bridge out into the farmlands of Frederick County.
I walked over the bridge and tried to remember why i wanted to do this second marathon this weekend. I couldn't remember and it didn't matter. Off the bridge i broke into a shuffle and by 19 miles i'd gotten it back together. It was that "good" painful feeling when the stride holds together though the mind wants to shut it all down. It is a powerful feeling, and i had it. Now i was mowing em down again, on cruise control, repassing all those who had expended way too much energy, way too early. I focused on the solid white line on the edge of the road. I ran through aid stations and kept moving, just glancing up long enough to check the runner in front of me. They were now my prey. Til i caught them of course, then i would smile and offer the only positive words i could think of. My favorite too use is, "See you up ahead!" Folks seem to accept that. Though we both know i would not be caught on this day.
By 24 miles i was in a different zone. My toes were now numb, but i could feel my feet burning. No matter at all. They would not slow me down. I would pay later. This moment was mine. I ran hard all the way in (in relative terms) and circled the outfield warning track inside the Key's Stadium. The finish inside on the third base line capped off an incredible day for me. One step over the line and I stopped. Accepted my baubles with gratitude and climbed the steps out of that stadium. By the time i reached my van i was too tired too pull off my shoes. So i sat there until i could put on dry clothes.
My training is progressing. I've had my eyes on JFK for six months. Get ready T, i need you there. This weekend put me one step closer. I popped the blisters on my toes on Monday morning. I'm gonna lose a toenail; and in a disturbing way it pleases me. My body is again changing. The hardness is slowly but surely returning. My mind is stronger. I am happier. Finishing two marathons in one weekend may not be for everyone. Still, there is no doubt in my mind anyone could do it. Just like the 100...we all have an athlete inside us. Mine now wants OUT. True success in the marathon is not the finish. Don't kid yourselves. What we gain is not obvious to the naked eye. The friendships we treasure and nurture and believe in are only a part of the riches that running brings us. True success is being content with who and what you are, and accepting and understanding your place in this incredible world that we all share. Friends, it is a great blessing for me to have spent time on this planet with you. By God's grace, i'll be seeing you at a marathon....real soon!