Over the past few months I have been diligently training for the Houston Marathon. My goal... to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I guess it is a normal occurance for an athlete to be sidelined due to illness or injury, but until it actually happens to you, it is hard to relate to just how that feels.
This morning I slept in. My original race day plan had me waking at around 5am for a 7am start with the 3:10 Marathon pace group. Instead, I rolled out of bed around 6:45, poured me a cup of coffee, and walked down my street to watch as the marathoners ran past our street around the 4 mile mark.
It was surreal, watching as those runners I had seen so many times in training past me by with a nod and sometimes a shout. They knew I was in my own silent pain but at the same time I was happy to be standing there. This was the first time I have ever been a spectator at a running event and because of that, I decided to soak as much of it in as I could.
One of the most exciting moments of the race was when the blind runner and his sight guide ran past me. I had seen the both of them on many Saturday mornings and to see their goal race a the start was very inspiring. I decided then and there that I would drive to the finish line and watch that team of athletes cross in victory.
I got downtown with plenty of time to see the Men's and Women's marathon winners. The women broke Houston's previous race record that had been set something like 30 years ago. She was impressive. However, the feeling I got from seeing that record setting run pailed in comparison to the feeling that overwhelmed me when I saw the blind runner and his guide cross the finish line.
I stood behind the barackades shouting at the top of my mucus filled lungs to share in the success the two runners had achieved. And as I began to compare his handicap to my 4 weeks of upper respiratory infections I refused to let my enthusiasm for running, my love for competition, and my overall fitness dedication to be extinguished by a slight set back. My race legs will be back soon and the secret will be smart training coupled with getting my mind wrapped around the fact that I have not lost much over the past couple of weeks. It's all mental.