See this cute, little map? It is the course map for the NYC ING Marathon which is certainly not a cute, little race although the simple, cartoon-like graphics imply otherwise. I just posted it on the wall next to my office computer. 219 days to go and I have now begun the next level of mental training to run 26.2 miles.
Longest distance I’ve run so far is 13.1 miles. That distance would take me to the edge of Brooklyn. I know all these roads. I’ve driven them for many years. Until now, they seemed impossible, unfathomable to run. They’re major streets and highways! How can anyone’s legs take them across those roads when they were built for the speed of a car? Oh, but I will do it. My running brain will not turn off until I cross that finish line. This I am most certain and confident of achieving.
Every time I drive across the Verrazano Bridge, which is often as a Staten Islander, my mind sees myself at the start of the marathon. I feel my body bobbing in a gentle trot, surrounded by thousands of other runners from around the world. I imagine my feet hitting the black top road that my car is zooming across, and I see my head turning right to look at Sandy Hook and then Coney Island and left to see the NYC Skyline and the growing NJ skyline. I wonder what I will notice from this unique perspective that I have never noticed before while driving across the bridge.
I’ve already decided the first 5 miles don’t count because I’ll just be settling down into my pace and bubbling with excitement at the start of the race. I know the challenge of a marathon really starts when you hit around mile 14. That’s the true test on the body. So as I stare at this map on my wall, my eyes are drawn to Queens (mile 14, 15) and then the Queensboro Bridge that takes you to mile 16 in NYC. I am going to memorize this map. And as I am crossing the lonely, quiet Queensboro Bridge before hitting the roar of the NYC crowds, I will picture in my mind that bold little red star that marks the finish line in Central Park. I need to keep that image in my head and keep running towards it until I cross it. SEE IT, RUN IT, FINISH IT…with a smile.