"What I mean is that someone sees a race, and they think that's what you do. They sort of know you had to train, but they weren't watching then, so they don't understand how incredibly much of it there is. But to us, it's almost the whole thing. Racing is just this little tiny ritual we go through after everything else has been done. It's a hood ornament." - Again to Carthage; John L. Parker Jr.
As I sit here trying to figure how to get 600+g of carbs into me in the next 12 hours, I began to think about how important both today and especially tomorrow will be in relation to the 18 weeks of training now complete. How so few individual days seem to play such a vital role in the success of but one event lasting only a tiny fraction of the time that went to prepare for it. Training is what we do, it's the essential process lasting weeks, months and perhaps years. The race/the result is what we see, it's how we're judged and evaluated. Validated. It's the consequence, the outcome, the performance that is valued. As so the process, the preparation, the training is all but forgotten. One day out of hundreds determines the quality of our efforts. This almost seems unfair, unjust. Some will look forward to the end of the race, imagining the number on the clock, a job well done, a medal, a prize, a placing. I look forward to every second of the race: the experience, the act, the effort and energy. The emotion, the concentration, the pain and exhilaration.
18 weeks. 126 days. 13 days off. 113 days on. 10 x 20+ milers. 80 x 10+ milers. 2134km total. 17km/day. 5 tune-up races. 5 PBs. 4 pairs of shoes. Early mornings. Early nights. Hills. Intervals. Pick-ups. Tempo. Strides. Blisters. Bandages. Bleeding. And way too many beers.
And it all comes down to tomorrow. One run. One race. 42.2km. 26.2 miles. The Toronto Goodlife Marathon. 160min? Or less!
In many ways, tomorrow represents the culmination of a dream. A dream that began the minute I crossed the line at Scotiabank (16 October 2011) and saw that time on the clock: 2:49:55. Pretty damn good for my first result at the distance and one I will always remember. But it was barely over and I was already thinking about the next one. Thinking about how much better I could be; how much faster I could go; what that would take; and how good it would feel once again.
So I set my sights higher and started again...
I rested, I recovered and I got ready to do it all again. And I did. And now the days, weeks and months long past all fade together and become but details and digits. But in those individuals runs, races and workouts; the recoveries, the easy days and the days off; the pre and post-run chatter, the socializing and the strategizing; the pre-race planning, race revisions and post-race dissections... that is where the true meaning of it all emerges. That is where the passion ignites, the flame is fuelled and the love of it all burns brightest. This is where it ceases to be about me as an individual but becomes about us as a collective. It becomes about you, my closest friends, my mentors and my family. None of this would matter if it weren't for those with whom I share this incredible journey. To my most amazing friends: None of this means anything without. And no matter what happens tomorrow, I'll be glad for the time we spent in getting there and the process by which we prepared. Thanks a million.