There is little that I can tell you which you haven’t already discovered for yourself during your four months of preparation for this race. But I want you to know how much I believe in you, how amazing I already think you are, and how far I can see you’ve already come, even though you have yet to toe the line and stare down 26.2 uninterrupted miles of running.
I remember when your running had been casual. I, too, have lived those days: we ran only because that’s what we had always done, and it’s all we could think to do today and tomorrow. But then, something within you rose up, and you were convicted: I can race 26.2 miles.
And so it begun: The Big Train. Through the glaring sun and oppressive humidity, through the dark and the cold. Your body ran through the seasons, and you saw trees dressed in red and orange before revealing their skeletons; you saw the land shrug off her white blanket in exchange for a green one. You were drenched, buffeted, burned, cooled, and chapped by the elements. You thought, I don’t want to. You thought, I can’t wait.
Through it all, you tended to your body the way you would care for a newborn baby. Every noise, every movement held meaning encouraging or troublesome. The stages where your heart and your legs carried you through the miles effortlessly lifted you, confirmed your theory of I can. Perhaps, though, this hasn’t been an effortless season for you. Perhaps your body has rebelled and protested, leaving you discouraged and perplexed as to why what you could once do with style and ease is now embarrassingly difficult. You learned that running does not discriminate, it points out all the evidence no matter who you are: I am faster than I thought or Something is wrong. Running is the opposite of “There is no try, only do.” In running, you now understand, there is a lot of doing before you get to the ultimate moment of attempt.
Now you are weeks, days or moments away from that moment of attempt. All that has come before is both relevant and weightless: it has gotten you here, but only you can take yourself forward from the gun. I will be there cheering you on, from the curb or my computer. I can’t run it for you, but I’ll run with you for a few miles if you let me. Triumph or failure will be yours alone, but I know the feeling of both and if you want me to, I will sit with you through either.
For good reason, we use words like strong, tough, inspiring, and dedicated to describe you. We hold you up as an example of endurance, athleticism, and force of will. When taking both the long and the short view of what you have already done and what you have yet to do for this marathon, it is difficult to near hyperbole. We are wrapped up in this world of people who run far, who push their limits and set ever-higher standards of success but never forget: it doesn’t get easier for any of us.
So Marathoner, I leave you with my love, my faith, my support. Whatever your race, be it a World Majors or a local course, its challenges are the same. Distance, time, terrain, weather: none of these are new to you. Go now, go and claim what is yours: those 26.2 miles of asphalt, and the moment when you can stop your watch and know with every cell of your body: I knew I could. I did it.
Run strong, run beautiful.