Exactly 6 days from today, I am going to run a half marathon. 13.1 miles.
There is absolutely zero humor in my voice when I say that I am scared shitless.
Okay, that’s not completely true. On a cognitive level, I am totally ready for this race. I’ve been doing Hal Higdon’s Novice Half Marathon training program for 10 weeks now, and I’ve completed every run successfully. Just yesterday I did 11 miles. Re-read that and digest what it means. I. Ran. 11. Miles. That’s almost the length of Manhattan. Sure, there was about a mile near the end where I was not feeling so great; my shoes may or may not have been filled with cement, I didn’t stop to check. And my feet were (and still are) pretty much a giant ball of blisters. But I finished, and I felt good. If I can do 11 miles without throwing up or crying, I know I’ll be able to do 13; the excitement and adrenalin of the race will take me those extra two miles.
Besides, this course is in my town. I’ve run portions of the course three times now. The only part of the course I haven’t run during a trial is the first two miles of the race, which run the length of downtown and down a popular wooded path to the state park. You guys, I have run those two miles a billion times. They are a part of my everyday run. For fuck’s sake, there is not a single run in my repertoire that does not involve me traveling the length of downtown. Those sidewalks are saturated with my sweat, and I’ve pounded them over and over. These are my motherfucking streets, and I will tear them apart.
But on an emotional level, I am terrified. Here’s the thing. I’ve been training for this race for 10 weeks now, but I’ve been thinking about it, dreaming about it, and pushing forward towards it for at least six months. This race has been the Twinkie on the end of my stick for so fucking long. And when you’re doing three mile runs and Tweeting victoriously about 4.5 miles, 13.1 miles sounds like a insurmountable mountain. It sounds like the kind of thing only superheroes can do. Superheroes who have 6-pack abs and always eat smart and nutritious meals and are never tempted to skip a run by a Hoarders marathon. I knew I’d one day run 13.1, but I always imagined that I’d do so as a better, more badass version of myself. As a superhero.
But 6 days out, I don’t feel like a superhero. I don’t feel better or stronger or faster. I just feel like me. The same exact me that has been slogging away for six months, mile after mile. The same exact slow, squishy, sweaty me that regular me has always been. And regular me? Is nowhere near strong enough physically or mentally to run a half marathon. Regular is not a superhero. Regular me is just that idiot in her underoos with a towel tied around her neck, running around the house going, “WOOOOOSH! WOOOOOOSH!”
Which is why I turn to you. You dear, wonderful, amazing people who share a little (and sometimes big) piece of my life. So many of you are my superheroes for so many different reasons. Some of you run actual marathons, some of you have crazy amazing careers that take you exciting literal and metaphorical places, some of you have a wit that is so biting it actually has fangs, and some of you bring so much joy to my life that I’m pretty sure you shine sunshine from your asshole.
I need my superheroes.
Give me your confidence. Give me your mantra. Give me those words that have helped you finish your own literal or metaphorical marathons. Or, if encouragement isn’t really your style, give me all the things that could be way worse, and why I should be grateful do be doing something so easy and painless as running 13.1. The best of both varieties will be written on my arms with sharpie and referenced during the race.
And maybe, through your words, some of your amazing super powers will be transferred to me.