If someone had come up with a Marathon-a-Month Club for 2005, I figured I would knock last month off early by doing the Big D Marathon in Dallas TX on Sunday, April 3.
(It turns out that was to be only the first of three marathons in April – the others being New Jersey Shore and Oklahoma City, but those are other stories!)
With my now being a Team in Training Coach for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, going to events for myself on week-ends has become a bit more problematic. Since TNT meets every Saturday morning at various SoCal locations, I do my very best to be at every early session then fly to my race destination in time to make the Sunday start. Either friends have been kind enough to pick up my race materials at the Saturday Expos or Race Directors have made extraordinary efforts to allow me to pick up my packet on race day – especially since they all know that the reason I will be arriving late into their cities is for a very good cause.
One benefit I have found with my arriving late, however, is that I rarely have time to get nervous before the run! Dallas was no exception because I got into town at about 1:00 on Sunday morning so it was just a short wait until race start time.
Unexpectedly, I ran into several friends before the run began - some Texas locals and others from further afield - so we ran the race together. We even hooked up with a true Dallasian who was doing her first marathon and seemed eager for company. Faith told us of many of the landmarks we were passing and pointed out the local running routes as we continued our trek around White Rock Lake and other scenic venues. So overall even the running part of the day went well!
The weekend did not go quite as planned, however, as some people I knew who were supposed to run did not yet another friend who I did not expect to see was there and we were even able to finish together. So even after completing the marathon distance more than 180 times, it is interesting the lessons that I still learn from participating in events such as this. Even more curious to me is that many lessons truly have absolutely nothing to do with the actual running!
I have found that whether events are “redos” to get previous bad experiences out of my mind (like the Catalina or Palos Verdes Marathon Fiascos of 2004) or great new events to look back upon with fond memories (such as April’s Big D and Oklahoma City Marathons), each event teaches me something about the folks (sorry, it IS a story about Texas!) involved. I am constantly reminded that, to me, the actual marathon distance is just a part of the experience and that the people I meet and the relationships fostered along the way are truly the important aspects of my running.
At a recent marathon, I was once again asked during an interview if all I ever did in my life was running-related activities. What I responded seems to be my now-canned reply: “No, it is for the people and related experiences, both good and bad, that I am involved in the sport. The events are one way to continue to make good memories and grow as a person”.
So whether it is an AREC run or your first organized race, continue to get out there and participate. Don’t let a bad experience, personally or athletically, cloud the true reason for being there – the great experiences which are possible and waiting for you through the great sport of running!