Monday, December 20, 1999

Do you remember when we used to sing?

What ever happened to Sundays so slow?

There are two sides to hubris. The first is the wax that binds Icarus' wings; the belief that there are no limits to the human spirit or the bounds of the human body. It is a fickle glue.

Somewhere along a long, straight road spelt with the usual Hawaiian ratio of consonants to vowels, it melted. After four months of training, a week of hydrating, and a careful pace at the beginning of the marathon, I found myself stumbling slower and slower past the endless water and first aids stations. 8 miles left.

I guess I have been abusive as any on using running as a metaphor for life. But not many things in life are this painful. Few are voluntary. A marathon is a brutal brown-eyed monster. Hats off to anyone who can run them quickly.

Sometime in the aftermath I tried to figure out where I made a mistake - eating gummy bears with a frizzy hair woman on the plane over, trying to sleep when somebody was defacing Van Morrison and Buffet with a ukulele in the hotel lobby the night before, or being woken up by the Japanese jumping jack squad. Probably should have drank two waters instead of one at each stop - used chocolate power goo instead of cinnamon apple power bars.

There was also the weather. Most people go to the islands to wade in sun tan lotion and gulp mai tai's. The place has more macadamia nuts than health nuts.

The rain had started the night before sometime after ukulele guy closed with "Cheeseburgers in Paradise" and kept going for the first portion of the race. To the extent that it kept things cool it was a blessing, but the humidity was cranked up to heavy sautŽ. Although my cotton socks absorbed a small lake and the mass of roughly 30,000 people had to squirm around puddles, the real difficulty with the rain was that it drove home the point that it was a far better day to stay inside, drink mochas, and read one of the last Sunday morning Peanuts strip than to test the resilience of my knees.

But to blame things on the weather is like Icarus blaming the crash on sun spots. The damage was done because of arrogance.

There is a flip side of pride. It is part that gets you out on the road in the first place; it is the belief that you can stretch your limits; and it is the hope that there is something beyond the road.

It was time to down shift. Too tired to moan, I lowered my gait to a condemned man's shuffle, picked points on the horizon and tried to run through them. 8 miles including Diamondback hill. Note of caution: be careful of things named after poisonous snakes.

I had not lost all of my senses though. I still could notice the cheers of the Team in Training folk and the bubbly assurance of my running mentor. There is no better sound track.

I would like to thank those who helped with the last desperate miles and those that gave me the faith to be out there in the first place. To my mentor Corrina, a huge gold star. To the fellow runners, a well earned purple heart. To Coach April, a thanks for not pulling me off of the road at mile 24 even though I was in a different time zone. To Kristin and the other organizers of so many of our activities a huge smile.

The time spend this fall training on buddy runs, waking up early on Saturday mornings for the Coaches workout, and eating brunches afterwards to offset the calorie burn was one of the best times of my life.

I did finish and was asked by five different people whether I needed medical attention. ( I gather now that is not the same thing as being asked whether I want a t-shirt. ) I slowly healed myself by drinking bottled water and clutching a TNT tent rope.

In the end I feel I neither conquered nor surrendered a marathon. But there is valor in survival. As much as I enjoy the puka shells and pin from finishing the race, the real trophy was spending time with good people for a great cause.

My muscles are almost healed now and the blisters and chaffing will soon fade from memory. In that quiet time, I will decide whether I want to try once again at that brutal brown eyed beast.