This is the 9th installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.
But first, the NYC Marathon
Last Sunday, NYC held its 46th marathon. It’s the largest in the world (+50K runners) and the course runs through the five boroughs of the city. The first marathon in 1970 ran through Central Park and only had 55 finishers. Paul Fetscher, a 70-year old who’s run the NYC Marathon 45 times, says, “even though it’s 50,000 people, it’s the small, personal moments that define it.”
MasterChef judge and co-owner of Eataly, Joe Bastianich participated, finishing at 04:08:25. He once said, “Quite honestly, it is so easy to overindulge when you are around food all day. You have to find balance. If your work sets you up to consume unnecessary calories, you have to be smart and find a way to burn it off.” He gets me. #Wesleys
The Beirut Marathon
Don’t underestimate our little city. The Beirut Marathon is a silver label marathon which means the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has deemed it as one of the “leading road races around the world.” The IAAF are the UN of sports and started in 1912, the same year the Titanic sank. That’s a completely irrelevant connection but I used to be obsessed with Titanic facts before Leo had anything to do with it. I’m still trying to reconcile that that was not a waste of brainspace. Anyway, Wikipedia calls the IAAF the international governing body for the sport of athletics so the silver label is like university accreditation or our marathon being knighted by the Queen. Now we know who to talk to about a Quidditch World Cup.
Training is Over
We’ve been playing it safe these last two weeks, keeping our blood flowing without stressing too hard before M-day. We had our last 15K run and, in that last loop back from Sporting, I saw what my favorite part of every run is: when I pass other teammates already making their way back to the start. It may have been that mixed with the relief that training was over but I made a new 10K PR, even if just by a few seconds. It was a good day to do so because I feel ready for tomorrow’s 21.
Even though we’ll be together before and after, I’ll miss seeing all those faces on the marathon track; it’s a circle and 21K & 42K start at different times. I’m sure the cheering stations will take over on that front but it’s a whole other kind of warm&fuzzy when your team’s champs are calling you out by name. It’s similar to that 1 person who offers you their hand to help you get up off the ground only multiplied by 60. There’s a bond that has formed, a kind of solidarity between us that can only come from growing/suffering together. That’s what happens when you spend so much time with strangers while you’re in a raw state and they may be the only other people who understand why you decided to sign up for this unnecessary challenge. They see you without the power suit, the makeup, and the bling that makes you your glossy civilian self. They’re not strangers anymore, they’re your podium holding you up. They’re that safety net that will catch you when you fall. They’re the voices cheering louder than the one that’s begging you to stop. They’re your team and they’ve got you.
I’m partially grateful that I had to shift to the half because now I’ll be there to see every pack42 runner, who will then all be marathoners, cross that finish line after I’ve trudged through my own 21 kilos.
I’ve watched you bust your asses every week, pushing through injuries, sacrificing Saturday nights, and drowsily dragging yourselves out to a Mar Mikhael parking lot every Sunday morning for four months. No matter the outcome or the time it takes you to do it, you’ve made it here. The marathon is just another Sunday morning that you will unlock and conquer.
Get your mantras on repeat during those last few kilometers, even the last 192 meters between the 42K pillar and the finish line at Martyrs Square. Fight through the fatigue but listen to your body when it needs fuel/water/encouragement. Conserve for the distance left to go but don’t let it weigh heavy on your chest. Feed off the energy of the crowd to keep lifting your feet up after every step but hold your head even higher because you have fought for this and you’re winning. Unleash the inner beast. It’s one more day.
I agree with our veteran NRC pacer, Moe Marhamo, when he said that it feels like he’s going to cross that finish 62 times in a row. I’m so proud of you, my wou7oush, and I can’t wait for all those sweaty hugs tomorrow.