This weekend was the Super Clinic for my marathon training program. I was originally going to just pick up my information packet and goody bag and leave (ok I did want to hear Hal Higdon speak) but I got hooked. The place was packed, standing room only and buzzing with excitement. I ended up standing in the doorway for a lot of the presentation, but I was hanging on every word.
Hal Higdon, for those unfamiliar, is a running god. The man is nearing ninety I think? And still running. He ran six marathons in six weeks for his sixtieth birthday. He has run 111 marathons total to date and he wrote the book they gave us in our training packet. He looks like everybody’s grandpa and was just really down to earth and approachable and nice. Oh! And he created the training program we’re about to embark on. So- yeah- pretty inspiring to hear him say we could do it. And great to hear CARA’s success rate is 99%
I am scanning the crowd at this point looking for other people in my size range. I’m kind of worried about this point. Most of the crowd is young, well-dressed and pretty damn fit-looking, although this session is for first-time marathoners only. I spot a woman who is bigger than me. It relieves me immensely for some reason. Maybe we'll run together. Then again, at the half-marathon I ran with a woman who looked in far better physical shape than me, but ran at my twelve minute pace. Looks can be deceiving, I should know that by now. I just have to keep reminding myself.
The next speaker gets me really pumped up. He’s one of the head guys at CARA and gives the details of the training while talking about how incredible it is to finish a marathon. He tells his own history of being un-athletic and nerdy. Bless him. Now he looks pretty buff. He says when you cross that finish line, “You feel like Michael Phelps. Like superman. There’s no feeling like it.” That’s exactly what I want- that picture –arms raised up in victory. The look on a runner’s face at that moment can only be said to be exultant. Glowing. Radiant. My heart is pumping. Let’s do it!
The next speaker is the Chicago Marathon event manager. He is a bit of an ominous figure to me. Kind of like the Ghost of Marathons Past. There is a big yellow flag in the room with the words “alert level Moderate” printed in black letters. This system was developed in the wake of the 2007 Chicago Marathon debacle. If you don’t know what happened- briefly- there were record temperatures and not enough water or communication. The race was called but not before a lot of people ended up in the hospital. There was one death, but they determined it was from a heart condition. Anyway- 2007 hangs in the air still and I’m pretty much terrified about the weather. I didn’t hear any horror stories about last year, but it was also hot. I’m just really really hoping for cool weather in October.
The charity presenters are up next and the woman who founded Bear Necessities, a charity for pediatric cancer, practically has me in tears with her story of running a race in memory of her son who was nicknamed “Bear.” She wrote “Bear” on both of her hands and held them up as runners do when they cross that finish line in the ecstatic victory pose. But she really had a motivation to cross the finish; she was raising money for the fund that honors his name. I’m still thinking about the charity portion of running. I agree it would really be meaningful and add so much to my motivation but I’m not sure what would be the best charity for me. I like the mission of Girls on the Run. I think running is incredibly empowering and more girls should be encouraged to do it.
Stretching and nutrition follow as well as a shoe clinic that I missed (I'm not too worried about missing the shoe clinic- I plan to get professionally fitted sometime this week) because I had to leave early for my niece’s Moon Party. It’s Chinese tradition to celebrate a baby’s first month, or full moon, with a feast. And oh did we feast! Here’s to my niece! Here’s to the start of my marathon journey! Life is delicious!