Trials and Tribulations

26.

 

If the first thing you think of when you see that number is how many days are in February, well you’re mistaken!

 

If the second thing you think of when you see that number is how many miles are in a marathon, well you’ve once again majorly fuqed up.

 

February is a tricky month because every couple (few?) years it fluctuates between 27-31 days. This is a fact. Leap year happens every four years and it’s when we skip February totally and go straight into March from January. Europeans do not adhere to this rule because of the metric system.

 

You’re probably lookin’ at your smartphone, thinkin’ “why is this bozo telling me things I learned years ago in elementary school?” Well, fella’, I don’t have a solid answer for you.

 

However, seeing as you still think there are only 26 miles in a marathon, let’s talk about your ignorance.

 

A marathon actually has 26.2 miles, and in less than two weeks I will be racing my first marathon at the U.S. Olympic Trials. About nine months ago, I decided I would move to Flagstaff to train for the Trials. When I made this decision, I had never been to Flagstaff nor ever raced more than a 10k on the track. It was a decision based on emotion, not logic. Over my six-month tenure in Flag, I’ve come to realize the decisions made based on emotion trump those of logic.

 

This applies perfectly to running. Logic is useless in running. To be a logical runner means you aren’t fully going after it. Sound judgment is necessary in most situations, but not in running. The sport takes the illogical, the irreverent, and the irrational and rewards them by transporting them from the expected to the unexpected.

 

Training for the marathon required me to be an idiot. The emotion I have invested in this race over the last seven months took control of all my training. Pushing myself to run long, long workouts entirely alone was necessary because I wanted to run a long, long race as fast as I possibly could. Lacing up the shoes for another-goddamn afternoon 8-miler wasn’t probably necessary, but I had something deep inside of me BEGGING to follow through with it. And, in the end, listening to the feelings buried underneath layers and layers of reason and general expectation have carried me along this training cycle.

 

And now, only 12 days away from the race, it’s time to be logical. It’s entirely too easy to start questioning the months of work and come to the conclusion “I CAN GET MORE FIT IN THE NEXT 12 DAYS IF I RUN THIS WORKOUT TOO HARD!” That’s an ALL-CAPS conclusion and we don’t like those! Currently, I’m nursing a bit of an injury and I’m taking these few days I have left with an extremely low-risk approach. Check the Strava profile. I’m fit. Nothing is going to make me question that truth.

 

The time to be emotional will be the last six miles of the race. I imagine I will be experiencing some real foreign pain and I’ll probably want to quit around this time. My body will be giving signals to slow down, to stop, because if I don’t I might die or some other crazy shit. Allowing the brain to govern the body is the best way to be disappointed.

 

I’m looking forward to being in some sort of pain I’ve never felt before. I’m looking forward to testing all the ridiculous training Mike Smith has put me through. I’m looking forward to moments where I have to make some scary decisions.

 

“I like a look of agony,

Because I know it’s true”

            - Emily Dickinson (OG, Triple OG)

Stephen Kersh