Training for the marathon is about getting out of bed at 7AM on a Saturday to run a 15-miler.
It is about seeing the pouring rain outside and knowing that this can't deter you because the other options of deferring until Sunday (in which case you know you probably won't end up running) or running on the treadmill are even more non-ideal.
It is about ignoring the initial twinges of pain from knees and ankles, which, by mile 14 have turned into strong protests from your body to stop.
It is about logging the miles alone and knowing that you could stop early because no one would ever know. But in the end, you would know, and to stop would be to fail, so you keep going.
It is about working towards covering 26 miles and 385 yards in under four hours.
It is about making a plan and adhering to it.
It is about experiencing pain and pushing through it.
Finally, it about setting a goal that once would have utterly unthinkable and overcoming enough self-doubt to accomplish it.
Honestly, I think that training for and running the marathon is going to prove to be the hardest thing I have ever done. Earning my two black belts in Tang Soo Do was hard, of course, since I had been training for them since I was seven year's old and each test was 5-7 hours in duration. But back then I had something to work against. From the age of nine, I was constantly told by my teachers that I would never earn my black belt. I was 'too fat, too lazy, too unathletic' to do so. And, being as stubborn as I am, I decided that I would show them. So I earned my 1st degree black belt in March 2002 after a 7 hour test (literally) to prove a point. And in March 2004 I went back and earned my 2nd degree.
This time, however, the only one pushing me towards achieving this goal is myself. My friends and family think I am absolutely crazy. '26.2 miles? Are you mental? Don't people die in the marathon?' are comments that I frequently hear. When WMAR ABC2 news aired 'Running to Death' about 2 weeks ago, I received numerous emails to the effect of 'Look! I told you so!' I think my parents would be more than a little relieved if I admitted that I couldn't do it and switched to the half marathon. But I want to do this, and so the push to succeed has to come from within myself. I won't be trying to prove a point to others on May 8th (well, other than that running 26.2 miles will not actually kill me), but rather to show myself that I can do it. I am still not entirely convinced that I can...especially after a very hard run like today's. But if running a marathon were easy, it would not hold the social importance that it does. The emotional and physical toll may end up being great, but, as the old adage goes, 'what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger'.