Today was one of those days that makes me love being a runner.
I woke up to crazy bright skies with all the trees outside my windows ablaze with oranges, yellows, and reds. My teammates came over to the house and we piled on the sofa to watch the NY Marathon, delaying our long run for the occasion. I followed all the media leading up to the event this year, so I felt like I knew each American athlete’s personal goal, which made the race far more interesting beyond the front pack alone. I had context, and empathy, and having run NY Marathon myself, an intimate knowledge of the experience. And now I had a teammate in it, Kara Goucher, someone I’ve “known” for years but never really knew before she joined Oiselle.
Kara’s goals were no secret, and watching them slip away via an athlete tracker app filled me with discomfort. I squirmed in my seat imagining what she might be going through, trying to hold it together as best as she could, keep the emotion bottled up so that finishing the race would remain a possibility. It’s so hard to be tough when things aren’t going well. When the camera finally showed her coming towards the finish line, the emotional pain from deep down was finally visible on her face. One moment it was hidden, the next moment it was released for all to see. I felt a pain in my heart in that instant and my eyes welled up. All my teammates looked like they were feeling it too, a familiar sensation for anyone who has put their hearts into something fully only to have it go unexplainably in a different direction than you dreamed.
There are some races you just so badly want, even need to go well. We need the occasional external confirmation that yes, we’ve made the right decisions, we’re living and training where we need to be, and our future goals are in fact realistic, so go forth with confidence. But we don’t always get it. In these cases we have to look even deeper inside ourselves for internal confirmation, which is more difficult. It’s like faith vs proof. Proof is just so much more convenient.
After watching Meb lead the Americans with a 4th place finish and seeing our guys come through, we hopped in our cars and headed to Drake Park for our long run. The colors were incredible as we made our way along the river trail. We ran five miles before anyone really spoke, and then Kate brought up Kara’s race and how moved she felt. It was like we were all carrying the marathon in our hearts as we ran. It felt heavy and light at the same time. We passed back through Drake Park at 7 miles to drop some clothes off and hydrate before doing a 5 mile tempo for the last part of the long run. My stride was smooth and strong as I pulled ahead to lead the team towards First Street Rapids, and before too long I couldn’t hear anyone’s footsteps but my own.