Mar 27, 2008

the marathon gods

i have gotten really good at wallowing in self pity. first it was missing my BQ. then it was an injury. then it was illness on top of injury. and now, with less than a month to go until i won't be running boston, i'm back to wallowing that i didn't BQ. its just weensy wallowing here and there. but its wallowing nonetheless.

mostly i wallow when i see emails going back and forth about boston plans, restaurants, etc. i tell my friends that if they are going to include me on the messages, they need to at least preface it with: get your tissues and a glass of wine, cause i joked that hearing the fun boston plans were like rubbing salt in the wound. a wound that has gotten fresher now that april 21st looms closer and closer and i still have yet to pick up the phone and cancel the damn hotel. cause the cancellation fee is just like pouring big rock salt on the wound. and the flight too. haven't cancelled that yet. i may as well cut a lemon in half and just rub the salt in with that.

but in the midst of the back and forth emails i get a 'tough love' message from coach - a little reminder that that it took him 17 marathons before he qualified. and i knew this. but i need to be reminded of it now and then. i have a tendency to put coach on a pedestal. i mean, the guy goes mountain biking the day after a hilly marathon. he paces people at half marathons a mere week after running boston. it borders on freak of nature. so i love the fact that it took him 17 tries - it brings the pedestal down just a bit, makes him more human. it keeps my disappointment over missing it in just two tries in check.

after the tough love message came another from my friend who told me what a friend of hers said when he asked her how i did in birmingham: she told him i got a PR, but not a BQ. his response was "she has not knelt at the altar of the marathon gods long enough" - it had taken him 8 or 9 tries.

i have not knelt at the altar of the marathon gods long enough.

i mulled the brilliant statement over. my god. its genius. i mean sure - there are the freaks of nature out there who qualify on their first marathon; no kneeling required. i ran with one of these freaks of nature one day on a big dog run. i was so happy that a new girl had joined the group and because we were running together i think, thank god there is someone here as slow as me. so we run and chat about what the other is training for - i say birmingham, she says boston. a few more sentences into the conversation, i learn she qualified at her first marathon. and then the conversation is over as she too pulls away to eventually catch up with the group. she is so way faster than me. and there i am. alone, bringing up the rear and sucking wind. wondering how the hell someone qualifies at marathon #1. she had to be the exception to the rule. she had to be.

unlike freak of nature girl, i think most people do a lot of kneeling at the altar. and while freak of nature girl just made me feel bad about myself that day, the runners i most admire - the ones who paid their dues, and knelt long and hard are the ones that make me feel better. i love to hear how many tries it took someone to get to boston (unless it took you one try, and then of course, i hate you) it puts two tries into perspective, and serves as the proverbial: "snap out of it" slap across the face - in a good, get over it, tough love kind of way.

its not like i am walking around in a funk anymore. my moments of wallowing are very few and far between. i crawled out of the vacuum of self pity i was in post-marathon and while dealing with knee shit a while ago. today was my last PT appointment. i'm out of the woods, good to go. i'm running, i've started looking up races and i like my bike again. it's all good. that said, come april 21st, i know i'll wallow a little bit. hell, i'll wallow when i finally suck it up, pay all the fees and cancel everything. i mean, i hate missing out on fun. especially if its running fun. running fun with friends. i hate that i missed the opportunity to go and share the whole experience with them. and having to pay penalty fees to miss it? ugh. salt on the wound. with lemon squeezed over it. i wonder if that counts towards some dues.

but i'll remind myself as i sit glued to coachs' every split on the live tracking on the 21st that it took him 17 tries to get there. i've only tried twice. i need to do some more kneeling. i wonder though, how best to appease the marathon gods? a shrine? are there special candles i can light? wonder if there is some sort of offering that might bring the number of tries down to four, six at the most.


Nancy said...

Oh Zanne, you crack me up. You are human just like the rest of us. I envy your speed and your skinny runner body, you envy freak of nature girl. Really all of us are blessed in different ways, but it's so hard when somebody else has what we want (and even worse if they seem to have it effortlessly). Hang in there, Girlie, you will get there. Every failed Boston BQ is just more information on how to get closer the next time. Look how far you came in the last one from the one before. At that rate, you'll be there sooner rather than later. :D (and I'll be way envious but cheering like a madwoman!)

Wishing you all the best.

Anonymous said...

17 tries! There you go, then. If it even takes you 16, which it won't, but just sayin', won't YOU have something on that apparent God 'O' Fitness then. Who's the Big Dog now!!

house on hill road said...

you will get there - i know that. you are one of the most determined people i know. and i like knowing it took the coach 17 tries. brings the pedestal way way down for me.

um, by the way, i have cold feet.

Vickie said...

Yes I like the "kneel at the altar" quote. I didn't want to be the one to say it. And I didn't and don't want you to think I doubted your abilities or desire. And it did cross my mind you were a "freak" of nature. But I couldn't help but think it just wasn't time yet. There were more miles to put in on your feet. More lessons to learn. And how do you know how long these "freaks" waited to try qualifying? You didn't wait. You put it out there right away. That at least gave you a chance to see what you needed to do first. You got farther than I did.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a marathoner. So I don't know the marathon gods personally. But I would have to think, that paying those dues will come as long as you just keep going, and getting better. Which I KNOW you will, because it's part of who you are. You'll get there.

Gotta Run..... said...

That is right.... don't give up on your dream of running Boston. It will happen for you and when it does it will be that much sweeter!!

I will the one glued to the stats and updated cheering you on from SC.....

Keep running girl!

monicac2 said...

I thought of you when I read this:

You will definitely have your day - you deserve it!

Frayed Laces said...

Very interesting statement. In my naivety I thought I could be one of those people to BQ on my first marathon. In a way, I'm glad things didn't go as planned. I think it will mean so much more as a pay my dues to the running gods--mile by painful recovery mile.

Anonymous said...

I know I have said this to you before but I really think you should pitch a book to a are really good at this blogging business, nevermind the running bit.

Holden said...

The marathon gods are very valuable in teaching a few things - respect for the distance, how to handle things when life throws a curveball. As the Dalai llama says, you learn more from your enemies than you do from your friends.

And for the record, it really took me 7 marathons to qualify and the other 10 were for fun (e.g. Ireland) or in support. But I learned a lot from those too.

Anonymous said...

I *think* the focus on completing marathons (popularized by publications like Runners World) has contributed to a perception that marathons are easy. Simply follow a training guide and voila, success. To a degree, that is true.

However, finishing with lofty PR goals is another matter. The freaks aside, most of us need 3 or 4 races to understand the rigors of a marathon and develop the confidence, patience and mental toughness necessary to push a qualifying pace. The training will build the confidence. After that, its stubborness. You're well on your way and best of luck on your journey--just be patience and and smell the proverbial roses along the way (sub-4 is nothing to be upset about)