Community A Letter to a Friend Before his First Marathon

    A Letter to a Friend Before his First Marathon

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    How far you’ve come is astounding. In case you forget, I want to remind you: you look great and your journey hasn’t only impacted you. Everyone around you is inspired. This is why we run: to redefine who we are and what we’re capable of and, while it isn’t easy and it isn’t over—the finish line in Berlin is still weeks, however quickly decreasing, away—the journey you’ve been on is already a success.

    By taking the first step, you’ve already won.

    We’ve all taken so much from you. And I wish I could go back in time and fill your virgin shoes: the nerves, the anticipation, the butterflies. . . the long nights of what ifs. What if I cramp out at thirty? What if my stomach acts up or my training wasn’t for long enough? What if I wear the wrong shoes? And what about the weather, the wind, the chafing? What if the course is marked incorrectly or I miss a water station and what if I oversleep or don’t sleep at all or what if there’s no getting over the Wall?

    All of those things could happen. Run long enough and you’ll experience all of that, plus tons more. But here’s the thing and let me remind you: you will do this again, so relax.

    This isn’t the Olympics or the World Series and you don’t have to do anything that you’re not ready for. You’ll wake up in the morning and put on your sneakers and you’ll show up at your race and you’ll run. Then, before you know it, the kilometres will gradually diminish and each step you take will bring you closer to your finish line—which you will cross, and you will be done.

    You can do this and you are ready for this and this is for everyone—for all of us—for the elites competing for prize money and world records and the back of the pack crew just trying to finish before the course is closed. All of us are on our own journeys, and this is what makes our sport so great. So enduring.

    The training, the lifestyle, the friendships, the healthy patterns; what we used to do that we didn’t like about ourselves before we ran: that’s the prize of finishing any race. It isn’t the medal or the T-shirt or the time: it’s the experience of working towards something, and seeing it through.

    My friend, what you’ve done, before you even start racing, has been awesome. And every time someone new gets into our sport it inspires someone else to do the same. Who is a runner? What makes an athlete? What body type, gender, nationality; who deserves the right to say that they run? I think we all do, and that everyone has it in them—whatever ‘it’ tends to be.

    Desire, dedication, a supportive community: in your case, I know you have a partner who already radiates, from your accomplishment, even before you start racing, magnificent pride.

    The marathon is hard. As is work, relationships, parenting, life. But running is something different. Something separate. Something you get to own just for yourself. And all that you have to do on race day is just remember how far you’ve travelled. The kilometres you’ve run and the people you’ve touched. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself on that course and then, sometime later, it will all be over.

    You’ll have a medal around your neck and, eventually, a beer in your hand. You’ll have done something very few people ever attempt in their life. A bucket list thing, accomplished.

    Then, my friend, you will do it again.

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