Yes, dear readers, it’s happened: the marathon letdown.
I’ve met the letdown before, but never this bad. Then again, the marathon I completed last Saturday was like no other I had ever run.
I’ve competed in marathons with 5,000 athletes and thousands of spectators cheering us on, in cities, on trails through wooded areas, past skyscrapers, rivers, oceans, over railroad tracks, on bridges, in rain, snow, stepped on autumn leaves or morning frost. I’ve received finishers medals of all sizes and shapes, been saved by volunteers handing out water and other replenishing liquids including beer! I’ve run entire marathons talking most of the time with friends — either partners I’ve met on the course or those with whom I’ve trained for years — or in complete silence.
So having run miles of all kinds in a dozen different places, why is part of me on Wednesday still with the 40 or so athletes on that difficult course in Hawaii Kai from last Saturday?
Because even though my legs are still tired, I rediscovered an idealism about sports and perhaps life that I thought had maybe faded away like so many dreams we believe in as children or even in the heady years of young adulthood.
Most of us who ran last weekend in the dead of summer in Hawaii Kai were probably in the 35 to 55 age range. Many of us showed strain on our faces as we climbed Heartbreak Hill to complete the next mile. And yet we all shouted encouragement to each other wherever we were on the course, smiled past the pain, lifted our heads to nod to each other, used dwindling reserves of energy to give each other high fives. And when we finished we shared our relief, properly introduced ourselves and even our families who came to support us.
I likely won’t see a lot of friends from last weekend again, many of whom traveled a great distance to Hawaii Kai. But I won’t soon forget this marathon that has made me embrace anew the many miles we run together.