In order to qualify for guaranteed entry into the New York Marathon (I'm sorry, the "ING New York Marathon"), one must either run a qualify, aka superfast, time or run 9 of the New York Road Runners qualifying races in the year prior. Naturally I went with the second option, being as the first wasn't a realistic choice. (I mean, come on: they want you to run like a 90 minute half or something physically nearly impossible.)
Today was my 9th race.
I woke up in a foul mood about it. I haven't been running enough and my times have been getting consistently worse, not better, over the past year. I've registered optimistically for a bunch of races that I've ended up not doing and I'm totally burnt out on racing. The races are meaningless - they're often even on the same course in Central Park, and it just doesn't excite me. So I was bitter to begin with and frustrated and I left a little late so I had to race to get there and everything was conspiring for me to be having a crummy day.
I started talking with this woman at the start, and before we knew it we'd flown through the course (well, flying sort of like turkeys or penguins, but hey). I missed setting a post-illnees PR at the 4m distance by 2 seconds. And I had a great time! Apples have never tasted so delicious as the one at the end of that course.
When I started, I was texting a friend about how I think I'm over these races and I'll take my chances on whether or not I even want to do the marathon in 2011. But now... well, I've already (tentatively) added a half-marathon to my schedule for January.
On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"