Get Away to Get It

This past week I traveled to California with my husband. He was there for work; I was tagging along.   This meant I had the days to myself, with new roads to run, shops to shop, Starbucks to drink, and yoga studios to discover. Basically, it meant that I’d do exactly the same thing I do at home during my summer teaching hiatus, but in warm and sunny California. Not a bad deal considering the Wisconsin I left was 60 degrees and rainy.

Being the travel aficionado that I am, a new location makes even the most mundane tasks exciting and adventuresome.  Throw me in a line or traffic jam in my town, and I’m upset and bored; take me to a different city, state, or country, and every day annoyances seem fun to me. Similarly, when mother nature interferes with my regular runs at home, I’m less than amused.  But, on my first day in California, I was so taken by the palm trees and sunshine that I overlooked the intense heat beating on me during my 3:00 p.m. run. As I peeled out of the hotel parking lot, happy to be out of a cramped airplane and on the open road, I noticed the beautiful scenery; not the 90 degrees.  I ran six miles easily, excited to take in all of the new sights and sounds on my journey.  However, had I done that same distance under those conditions on my home course, I’m guessing I would have been focused on the heat, not the landscape.

Similarly, I found that my three-hour stint in Starbucks the next day brought on a huge dose of inspired writing.  Same “venti coffee with room for creme,” same leather chair, same pumpkin bread… but the people and vibe of the place did something to make me want to stay there longer than I normally would. I wrote and wrote, until I finally had to stop when my husband picked me up after his meetings. While I love Starbucks, I don’t love sitting anywhere for three hours… so to accomplish that was significant to this “runner”chica.

Now, note that my novel run and Starbucks experience weren’t so life altering that they caused me to stop in my tracks and proclaim, “Wow! I’m a new runner, a new writer. I could go on for hours, this is amazing.” In fact, I didn’t really notice that anything great had happened in my psyche until I dropped into a hot yoga class towards the end of my trip.

As a self-proclaimed Bikram Yog addict, I was very anxious to get in a little mat time while  in California. After all, it had been four whole days since my last class. Internet research led me to Innerevolution Yoga (if you’re ever in Redlands, CA check it out!)  just blocks from my hotel, where I signed up for the noon “hot yoga” class.  I was hoping it would be comparable to my beloved Bikram, but I’d heard differing accounts.  Friends had told me that “hot yoga” was not the same as the rigid 90 minute, 26 pose, 105 degree Bikram experience. So, while I knew that the hour power hour wouldn’t be exactly the same, I was hoping it’d at least be close.

It wasn’t close.  Yes, the studio was hot.  Yes, the studio had a positive vibe thanks to cool owners that gave the same welcoming feel of my studio back in Milwaukee. But, other than those things, little felt familiar during the hot power hour. Not different- bad. Just different.

You see, with Bikram, the lights shine brightly and the room is filled with only the instructor’s voice.  In this new class, the instructor’s voice was complemented by great music, and the room had high windows flanked by palm trees. And the moves… were completely different.  With Bikram, I had memorized the 26 prescribed moves. I knew what came next before the instructor gave the instruction. This was great, but also gave my mind excuses to go on mini vacations while my instructor told me what I already knew. Here in hot yoga, automatic pilot was not my M.O.  I needed to be fully present in the moment just to keep up.  I focused on the instructions and the examples in front of me. At times, I’d get frustrated, only to have the yogic mind reader say, “Don’t worry about what you can or can’t do today. You’re not in competition with anyone.  Just go where your body takes you and accept that it’s exactly where you need to be.”

This was great advice for me at that moment, because I’m neither flexible nor coordinated when it comes to yoga. I also thought that philosophy made sense in a lot of life situations. Later, while doing stretches on the floor, the instructor provided more thought-provoking material.  As I reached my head for my toes, but instead hit my knees, she said, “Remember, you can’t force flexibility.  You have to take it where you are today and build on it. If you try to force flexibility, you’ll only hurt yourself.” Amen, sistah. I was thinking about how good her advice was when suddenly, the Bikram script came back to me.  I recalled my Milwaukee instructor’s familiar advice for that same pose, “Reach forward. Your goal is to touch your head to your toes… you may not get there today, you may not get there tomorrow. You may not get there in this lifetime. Just keep on trying…”

And then it hit me. So much of what I did and heard in that class that seemed so new, wasn’t new after all. It just seemed new because I was truly listening while engrossed in the moment.  I realized that only by getting out of my element and in a new setting was I able to tune in and truly see and hear the world around me.  The messages, the revelations, the chances to “get” my yoga moves, and more importantly this thing called life,  were being overshadowed by distractions in the form of routine.

The final words of that yoga class brought it all together.  As we sat in prayer position with our eyes closed and “thoughts turned inward,” our instructor asked us to do one thing, and one thing only… that was to “be aware.” Be aware of our breath, aware of where we were exactly that moment.  She reminded us that there are so many times in our daily lives that we are not aware, but rather going through the motions.  It turns out that advice might just be the ticket to making every run, every yoga class, every day… seem like a new adventure, with much to discover and learn.

So, whether today takes you on the same path you’ve run your entire life, or on an entirely new one… today, try being fully present and see what the world has to offer you.  It might just turn out to be pretty cool.

Namaste, friends.

by abbey algiers

copyright 2011

Really, Why 26.2?

Since I completed my first marathon in 2003, I think I have been marathoning’s biggest cheerleader. I can’t count the number of people I have told, “YOU should run a marathon! You can totally do it!” I’ve said this to casual runners, serious runners, and people who would not even run if being chased. The non-runners usually look at me like I am insane, and tell me (quite frankly) that there’s not a chance in hell they are going to ever do this, so could I  (please) shut up now.  Others listen to my marathon pitches and walk away giving it serious consideration.  Some have gone on to run one or several marathons. Still others acknowledge that, yes, they’ve been considering a marathon for quite some time now, and maybe one day they’ll do it.

While on my 26.2-foot -high soap box, I’ve learned to monitor when to stop talking and when to keep on going.  Yet, for the most part, a little resistance from my audience does not slow me down. I am relentless in my marathon promotion. However, after reading, “An Inside Look” one would probably wonder why I push this multiple hour torture session, because the #1 known fact about running a marathon is that it sure ain’t easy.

So, why the hype? Why are marathons filling up at record rates… attracting droves of runners and non-runners alike? Why do people go back to marathoning even after being injured time and time again?  Are all runners basically mad? Quite possibly yes, we are mad. But there’s a reason beyond the madness that draws us in to the allure of 26.2.

The real reason lies in the fact that consciously and unconsciously, our collective human conscience is onto something as far as marathons are concerned.  It’s actually a huge secret that is revealed to us early on in the training phase of marathon preparation.

This secret goes beyond the physical benefits of running – that you can lose weight, lower cholesterol, improve fitness, reduce stress, and feel better, etc. This is what I call the “Well, no duh” benefits to training for marathons.

There is something bigger going on here.

This “something” begins with the training. A transformation of self-discipline and dedication slowly grows as one makes and follows a training schedule. What starts as “How am I going to fit all of these miles in and still get everything else done?” grows into a daily calendar that makes more space for running and eating well, and less space for TV watching, junk food eating, and unnecessary boozin’.  Going to bed early on a Friday night for a Saturday long run isn’t a chore, it becomes a normal part of existence.  In turn, waking early isn’t so bad either. After all, by the time you are done with your shower, your “pre-marathon self” would be just getting out of bed.

As this new lifestyle of scheduled runs, good nutrition, and a healthier outlook evolves, a shift takes place in the way a runner looks at the world. With more energy, better fitting clothes, and less stress, our lives in general just tend to look sunnier. The training schedule that once looked scary and impossible to tackle is in fact proving to be quite gratifying. It starts out with 5-7-9-10 mile distances for  “long” runs, and as you cover each distance your confidence grows. “Damn, I just ran 10 miles today. Who would have thought I could do that?”  Then, you hit 12, 14, 16, 18 miles, and you finish with such self-pride and accomplishment that you want to tell everyone you meet about the runs.  (“Sure, I’ll meet you for lunch. I just ran 16 today, so I’m kind of hungry…” ) And, as you hit each bigger mileage mark, you get there and feel more confident that you will be able to do the 26.2 miles you once thought were impossible.   You also think about doing more in all areas of your life… What else can I do that I didn’t think I could before?  A mental and emotional transformation is taking place as your body physically transforms.

In the midst of this transformation,  you start to think of your new routine as “normal.”  You get to a point where long runs of 12-14-16 seem routine to you, so you say things to people like, “Oh, I just ran 10 today…”  They will look at you like you’re nuts (mad), and reply, “Oh, only  10, huh?”  It’s instances like these that prove you are not the same person who started this whole marathon business.

Yes, you’re pushing the boundaries of what you once thought was possible, and you’re winning at it. Not winning in a crazy Charlie Sheen-manic way, but winning in the true sense of the word. And without even really trying, this “win” is spilling into your regular life.  It seems that your  professional, personal, and life goals are gaining new clarity as you move forward in your training program.  You become more productive and goal oriented in everything. It’s pretty amazing.

Now of course, in this land of training, not everything is fun and games.  There are runs that don’t go so well.  While on training runs, you learn about fun things like digestive issues.  You also learn about hydration and lack thereof. You find out (the hard way) about blisters and chafing and toe nails falling off. There are other setbacks too. Muscles become sore, and injuries pop up. A million roadblocks can enter your path, but you don’t quit.  If something is really hurting, you’ll seek out doctors, PT’s, massage therapists, or anyone (I’ve even sought out a body energy worker) to help get back on track.

No, you don’t want to quit, because you want, like nothing else in the world, to make it to race day healthy and ready for action.  By committing to a marathon, you have made a commitment to yourself to test your physical, emotional, and mental limits.  So, with all of this training and growth under your fuel belt, you go to your marathon. And, at the start line, you are full of emotions because you know that you did not reach this place without much, much preparation. It hits you then, that simply being there, in the sea of runners all working for the same thing, is pretty darn amazing.  You know that even at the start line, you have accomplished more than you ever thought you could.

With this little gem, you move forward, realizing that the marathon, like your training and your life, will not be easy. In fact it won’t even be that fun.  But you also know that there is something inside you that will help you get through it, come hell or high water. And this, is why you signed up in the first place; to ignite the light inside you that lets you know that when you put your body, mind, and spirit together, anything really is possible.

Whatever your particular dose of madness drives you to do, pursue it with everything you’ve got, folks… life is full of marathons, just pick the one you want to do, and enter it with spirit and passion.

by abbey algiers

copyright 2011


“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” 

– John “The Penguin”Bingham

An Inside Look… at a Marathoner’s Mind

What goes on in the mind of a marathon runner? Non-runners don’t always understand the logic behind running 26.2 miles, and sometimes runners themselves question it as well. Whether you have run one, many or none… step inside my mind for a bit and see what really goes on in the mind of one marathoner.

Pre-marathon. My running partner and I are at the start line a half hour early. The area is covered with runners hosting various pre-race outfits. Some have hats, mittens, and oversized sweatshirts which they will drop shortly before or after the race starts. It is a sea of nervous energy, with everyone just wanting to get going.

This time must be used wisely, however, so I use it by joining the ranks of runners standing in line for the porta potties. Looking at the number of runners waiting, it would seem that the race director got on a megaphone and said, “Attention runners. This is the last chance in your life that you will have to use a bathroom.” Accordingly, the lines are a mile deep.

I try to get in subtle stretching and loosening as I stand in line. While I may appear quiet and pensive, my mind is racing. Am I wearing the right outfit? Should I wear these gloves? I hate these red gloves, why did I bring these red gloves? I look like a clown. Did I drink enough Gatorade? Too much? Will I run out of energy, get injured, or have a mental breakdown on the course?

Yes, I am officially freaking out. I’d also bet that 90% of my porta potty buddies are head cases as well. It’s all a part of what happens when newbies or veterans decide to tackle the elusive 26.2. All of these people are aware in one way or another of a mysterious entity known only to marathoners and not able to be seen by the human eye. That something is called “the bubble.”

What is the “bubble?”

The Bubble. The Start Line is the entrance to the bubble. Like Dorothy’s first steps on the Yellow Brick Road, runners who enter the bubble know the only way they can reach home and safety again is by following it. The bubble represents The Land of the Marathon. When you are in this land, your mind, body, and spirit go through a series of changes, making you, your friends, your family, and generally everything you know to be real in this lifetime questionable at best.

You are happy. You are sad. You are a raving lunatic one-minute, Mother Teresa the next.

You may remark at the beautiful scenery or a cute child spectator or dog, then turn a corner and declare that you hate everything in your path.

You feel great. You are sprinting to a porta potty.

Logical thoughts enter your mind and future plans are made. Yes, you will enter grad school in the spring, that’s it. Your whole life has now been figured out. Then, 400 yards later, you can’t remember your name or what language you speak.

There are revelations, “Wow, running has really changed my life for the better.”
And declarations, “I am NEVER running again after this *$#@ing marathon.”

At some or all parts of this race, you will stop being an adult and you will reconnect with your 13-year-old self.
It all happens in the bubble.

But, let’s begin with…

The Start Line. For those who have run marathons, they know that the moments before the gun goes off are precious. They are your last sane moments for several hours. Here at the start, I know I am about to enter the elusive “bubble,” a place I equally love and fear. I try to take advantage of my time in this safe space, before it all begins.

My friend and I have pushed our way to the 3:40 pace group. She asks me if I’m sure we belong here. She reminds me this is a really fast pace. Silently agreeing with her, I lie and assure her we’ll be fine. Then I look around at a lot of really experienced looking runners, jumping up and down to warm up. I take a moment to jiggle my body around too. At which point I feel completely not prepared compared to all of the fit, buff runners around me. I bet they ran more than two times this past week. I bet they didn’t just get over a cold. I bet they didn’t have a glass of red wine with their dinner last night. Plus, their outfits are much cooler and their shoes appear newer. I am so screwed.

In this completely logical frame of mind, I continue to jump around and assess the crowd until the National Anthem.

The National Anthem. Thanks to the red, white, and blue, my emotions are now reaching overdrive. I am patriotic, reflective, nervous, emotional, and ready to rock and roll. I also feel like I’m going to pee my pants. You’d think I’d get a handle on this whole start line thing by now, but no, every single time is the same. I am scared out of my mind. Yet, as the crowd moves forward towards the start line… I am suddenly euphoric. (Enter manic phase of marathon) Woo hoo, I love marathons!

Miles 1-3. This is easy! This is fun! What a great thing to do on a Sunday morning. I think about all of the people still sleeping in bed, the lazy bums. I will feel so good when this is done! Look at all of these interesting people around me. I should talk to them. There are runners ahead of me who have been consistently ahead of me the whole 20 minutes I’ve been out here. I am beginning to be familiar with their backsides.

Take for example Pink Shirt Girl. After trailing her, I am now beside her and see she has a cool iPhone holder. I guess it’s technically called a case. I should really get a new case, as mine is old and trashy. I think I’ll get a pink one. Or maybe red. I turn to my running partner to discuss. She looks less than impressed with my plan. I guess it’s not that exciting.

Now we are passing a church, and it looks like the entire congregation is outside, singing Amazing Grace. I wonder why they are planted so early on the course, and not later in the race when I really need them. However, seeing so many church people in one big group reminds me to take a moment and feel grateful to be able to do what I’m doing.

Just before we hit the 3 Mile mark, I ask my friend if we hit 1 yet. Her look begs, Are you a complete moron? Yet she simply states, “We’re approaching 3.”

Enter early marathon dementia.

Mile 3.5 I think about how good I feel, and mentally decide to just not let (as if I can ultimately decide this) my body feel any worse for the rest of the run. I am in the portion of the bubble where I still have control over my body and its actions.

At Mile 4, there is a community band.
I think about how this course sure has a lot of music, and how nice these band members are to share their Sunday with me.

Mile 5. My friend is awfully quiet. Dang, I wish I had brought my iPhone because I really would like to play some tunes now.

Miles 6-7. We are starting to pass some of the walking half marathoners. I briefly consider that maybe the half wouldn’t have been such a bad idea, as there are still roughly 20 miles to go. 20 miles. I make a mental decision to take the rest of the marathon mile by mile. Just as I’m thinking this, my friend says, “Hey, we’re almost in the double digits.” What? After miles of silence, she decides to begin a conversation with a lie? In marathon terms, 7 is not that close to double digits, I’m sorry. Yet with my fool-proof “one mile at a time” plan, her proclamation (lie) doesn’t bother me as much.

Mile 8. I realize that mile by mile… is still a lot of miles. Why am I starving now? Oh, maybe because I ate breakfast at 4:45 a.m., and on a normal day I eat at 6 and am hungry by 9, without running 8 miles. Do I eat my Shot Blocks now? Since my friend also ate hours ago, she is apparently hungry as well and is reaching for her gel. I feel better digging in. This is part of my “don’t let your body stop feeling bad” theory. I won’t let myself run out of energy. Ever.

Mile 9. Should aggravation settle in so early in the run? Because Pink Shirt Girl with the cool iPhone case is really getting on my nerves. She is far enough away to remain out of reach, but close enough to be a tempting distraction. I want to pass her stupid pink shirt. I don’t care if she has a cool iPhone case. I hate her.

Mile 10. Double digits— excellent! I turn to my friend and say, “Hey, now it’s just like we’re going out for a 16 mile long run.” I know this is a ridiculous thing to say, yet for the moment we both feel as if it’s the best revelation I’ve had all year.

Plus, Pink Shirt Girl is nowhere to be seen, thank God. Maybe things are turning around. The spectators around me are all so nice. My new favorite person in the world just handed me a piece of licorice. It’s like all of mankind is working together to help me finish this run.

But… who is the mad clomper behind me? Seriously, how can one person make so much noise running? I glance back to find a boy who appears to be about 12. Okay, now I feel bad. Cool that he’s here. He must be doing the relay.

I try to calm down about the noise.

Okay forget that, this kid is making me nuts. Didn’t anyone teach him how to run properly? Who are his clomper allowing parents and how can I get away from this kid?

And hey… isn’t there an age requirement for this race???

Mile 11. My friend and I really haven’t talked much during this run, which is pretty normal for us. During marathons, we are silent, with each of us residing in our own 26.2 bubble, facing our demons as we go. Right now my demons are asking why the hell I am out here. I’m not sure what to tell them. While I wish this were more like mile 21, I still feel pretty good and look forward to the half mark that’s coming up.

Mile 12. I feel great as we near the halfway point. In fact, I am feeling so great, I am extra ecstatic and turn to my friend to share the moment. “ALRIGHT! We’re almost halfway done! That went pretty fast, didn’t it?” She looks at me as if I have just told her that I was going to pour oil on her retina. Oh. I see we are in the predicament where one partner feels good, the other not so much.

I must tread lightly and encourage her gently. We know this about each other, each having been in this place before.

“You okay?” She nods, then asks me not to talk. I get this.

Mile 13. It is amazing how the tables can turn. Silent Sue has apparently been overtaken by her cousin Chatty Cathy, just in time for my side stitch’s arrival. What the hell, I haven’t had a side ache since the shuttle run in 7th grade. Breathe. I must breathe through the pain like a mother in labor. I pretend to listen as my friend talks about what race we should do in the spring.

Mile 14. I’m not exactly sure how or when, but my side ache has gone away, only to be replaced by a pain on the top of my foot. Hmmm. It appears as if all of the bones on the top of my foot have somehow broken. I think about when my PT roommate in college was having me help her study the foot. There are a lot of bones there, and I wonder how many of mine hurt… for no reason at all. Is this a stress fracture? I am going to try to focus on something else; maybe the pain will go away.

Mile 15. Well, I’ve got something else to focus on:  finding a porta potty. It seems like the company who dropped all of those units off early on in the course must have thought this was a half marathon, because I have not seen a potty for miles. With two things now to not think about, maybe I’ll talk to my friend. Just as I think this, I notice she is breathing in a way that indicates talking is probably not top on her list right now. I try to go to that meditative state where you don’t think about anything.

Mile 16. I begin to go for that meditative state when I first see the Mile 16 sign. But here’s the thing- it’s not exactly easy for me to achieve that blissful state of no thoughts when I’m in a candle lit room with Enya softly playing. It’s even more difficult to think about nothing when you’ve been running for two and a half hours, need to use a bathroom, have an aching foot, and legs filling with lactic acid. Try that on for size, Buddha. So, I decide to use my meditative powers to manifest a bathroom. Bingo, I am granted that wish just before Mile 17.

Mile 17. I think a great fundraiser would be to charge runners for bathroom use during a marathon, because I would have given up my automobile for this one. Feeling like a million bucks, I have a renewed sense of hope as I continue on my journey. My running partner looks all right as well, and I debate asking how we are doing time wise. What the hell, I’ll ask. I tap my wrist and she tells me we are still in the running for 3:40. This surprises and energizes me. From 14-17, I didn’t know if I’d make it; now I feel like picking up the pace. My running partner tells me she’s feeling okay as well.

Mile 18. This mile passes rather quickly, and I look around to see how the people around me are doing. Pink Shirt Girl is still ahead of me, and suddenly my one goal in life becomes to take her down. Forgetting that my friend has not been in my evil head this whole time, I turn to her and say, “Let’s get her!” She promptly asks WHO the HELL I am talking about, and I don’t have enough energy to explain, so forget about Pink Shirt Girl for the moment.

Mile 19. My friend has the weird breathing again, and I know it’s my duty to offer more gentle encouragement. It can’t be too nice, because we both know there’s nothing more annoying than someone being really nice to you when you are beginning to struggle.
“Hey another mile and we just have a 10K. Right?” If I could close caption her look it’d go something like, “Right, b$#@$. Now please shut the hell up.”
I silently proceed.

Mile 20. Now I’m the one wondering why it was so great to “only” have a 10K left. 10K my ass, it’s still a long way. The good news is, I think the “stress fracture” from Mile 14 is gone. The bad news, my legs are starting to feel like lead weights, a normal occurrence around this time. I’m never sure if this works, but I pound on them with my fists like an alchemist… to get the lead moving.

Mile 20.5 ish… I ask my friend if 22 is next because honestly I can’t remember what the last mile marker was. I *hope* it was 21… but I fear that I am wrong. My friend tells me it was 20, so of course I am mad at her for sharing this truth.

Mile 21. Part of me thinks it’s my friend’s fault that this is only 21. Like, if she had said we just passed 21, somehow magically we’d be at 22. This is the point of the marathon that’s similar to a patient post op…no major decisions should be made at this time because the mind just isn’t rational or logical.

After what seems like 4 hours, I see Mile 22 in the distance.

Mile 22.
I want to cry now, and think to myself that I always want to cry at mile 22. Why is this, I wonder? Oh, wait, I know… it’s because I want to be done. I want to be done, or I want to turn into one of the polar fleece wearing, coffee drinking spectators, sitting on their lawn chairs cheering me on. I want to STOP MOVING ALREADY. Yet… I have four point two miles left. I think this explains the tears physically. Emotionally is a whole other ballgame that I won’t even begin to psychoanalyze at this point.

All I know is that I have four point two of the most challenging miles of my life left, where a series of things could happen. My legs could stop working. My bowels could explode. I could pass out. I could trip, because my legs have stopped working. Or… I could choose to talk myself off the CLIFF I am on, and realize that I need to relax, breathe, and take it one step at a time.

I remember my holly jolly “one-mile at a time” theory. Just make it to 23. 23 is all I need to get to, and when I get there, I will take it to the next mile, and so forth.

But, where in the HELL is 23? Was 22 a joke? Did I even see that sign? And, if one more spectator tells me that I am almost there, I may snap. Mark my words.

Mile 23. I can see the sign. Unless it’s a mirage. I think I see the sign, and I think after it, there is a water stop. Crap. Suddenly, it’s not about the sign and more about the dilemma… do I get water or do I get Gatorade? Or do a I nothing? I don’t want to consume anything for a very long time, yet I have three point two miles remaining, and I don’t know if I will need this last burst of Gatorade.

I decide to wing it- see how much I hate the teens distributing the drinks. If I can find a teen that doesn’t anger me right now, I will take water from him or her.

A nice boy with glasses gives me a cup and says, “Good job, Abbey! Have some Gatorade.”
Okay, #1, he reminded me of what my name was, which was questionable for a while, and #2, he seemed really polite.

I decide this is a universal message to drink the Gatorade. I do, and instantly regret it.

I now hate the boy with glasses, as I spend a half-mile with stomach pain and pure hatred.

Miraculously, Mile 24 pops up much sooner than I expected. I no longer have stomach pain and I no longer hate glasses boy. I am energized thinking that I have two point two miles to go. I have run two miles before. I pretend I am in high school again, doing the two-mile event.

Mile 25. While YES, I wish this were the finish line, it is the next best thing. I pound my legs a few times to charge them up. I soak in the crowd. Focus on the mile ahead, and tell myself that soon it will be over. What, am I going to stop now? Hell, no! My friend and I, still unable to really converse, just look at each other with mutual “almost relief.” We can do this.

Mile 26. Even though the “mile” from 25 to 26 feels like ten, we make it to 26 and turn it on for the last point two miles… and wouldn’t you know it- pink shirt girl is in my direct line of vision. I look to my friend and signal a full-out sprint. With the crowds cheering us on, we bring it in, just a bit over our goal time.

Enter the next phase of oblivion where walking is challenged, food is needed yet not exactly welcomed, and friends and family are met with a sort of “Hey, I know you, but I can’t really spell my name right now. Talk to me in a bit when I come to my senses…”

And then, when my friend and I both do come to our senses, are hydrated, and changed into warm, dry clothes, we get in our car and talk about our next race, because after struggling through the marathon and finishing, we know…

“There’s not a better feeling than when you have found that moment of balance and harmony when both running and life come together. Then you know why you run and that you couldn’t live without it.”  -Joan Benoit Samuelson

copyright 2011

by abbey algiers