The Central Park crew and the New York Road Runners are preparing for the NYC Marathon this coming weekend. As I round the corner each morning at Columbus Circle and start up the hill, I see the finish line as it takes shape at Tavern on the Green. Trailers. Bleachers on either side of the street for the crowds. Barricades that daily more clearly define areas. Television crews interviewing runners. And intense people huddled with clipboards and cell phones. As their excitement builds, I’m completely tortured and angry with myself.
This is yet one more year that I’m not running the marathon. The finish line is a monument to my stupidity. Why did I stop running?
I love that marathon. It was once mine. It was the centerpiece of my year, the driving motivation of my workout program, and the source of enduring friendships. It defined an important part of me. I have completed thirteen New Yorks. Never placed up with the big dogs, but never failed to finish. And then one day, I walked away. Not sure how that happened or why.
But of this I am sure: Once I quit running, nothing was ever right again. Worse, accustomed to being lean and fit, I have been unable to figure out how to take this older, expanded muffin body and shift it out of “lumbering” gear and back into overdrive. Rock hard discipline has been replaced by something corrosive and debilitating.
I was inspired today to try again for the gazillionth time. My body knows how to run and it wants to. I turned it loose. Just for a little while, I was running. To be frank, I was running away from the finish line at Tavern on the Green. I just couldn’t face it.