Within days of the NYC Marathon — my thoughts are busy studying the weather forecast for Sunday Nov 2, 2014 (currently predicting wind chill at 23 degrees and 30 mph headwinds!), wondering if I have trained enough, wondering if the “taper” concept really works, and examining that elusive question – “Why run?”. For the longest time, I sought out a sole answer to “Why run?”. I’ve read countless books and running magazines that try to make sense of that question with sensible answers. Answers that range from “it’s childlike and adults need more childlike”, “it’s playful and adults need to get more play time”. There are more answers too — from feeling a sense of accomplishment, to having a gym the size of mother Earth, to not needing to pay a monthly membership fee, to leaving your responsibilities behind — to just plain “me time”. All of these make sense, and all of these I can resonate with at any given moment.
Yet, something was missing. I needed an answer that would make sense of running days that felt more like agony than pleasure. An answer that would finally put to rest this question – with something more meaningful and insightful. An answer that would stand the test of time, and could resonate regardless of the running experience. An answer that would link the satisfying running days with those less satisfying, the link between the mind and the body, the link to the soul.
Perhaps I have been consumed with discovering the needle in the haystack – when the answer is the entire haystack. Perhaps there is no one answer. Perhaps there is no one size fits all. Perhaps every runner who ponders this question, discovers their own answer(s) which may be distinctly unique from other runners.
Time will likely shed more light on this subject, but for now, I run….
To discover my Times Roman 9 voice. I am both my advocate and my enemy. When I run, my two voices (critic vs advocate) go to battle, and my run becomes the battlefield. If my self-critic voice was a font, it would be bold. Bold, bright red, extra large Broadway size 72. Using a lot of energy, screaming at the top of it’s lungs, waving it’s arms erratically – saying anything to get my full attention. Relentlessly casting judgment.
My champion voice on the other hand, is easily Times Roman size 9 – standard black. A nothing fancy small print – easy to miss. Easy to go unnoticed. Truly ‘Plain Jane’. A consistent little bugger, with a small unassuming voice. The “little engine that could” type of voice. The calculating analytical voice that forms a steady baseline to the noisy fire of the critic. The voice with the low murmur you can’t set aside – because this voice is your advocate, your friend, your cheerleader, your champion.
For each moment, for each mile, for each distance – one voice will dominate. My bold extra large font may be screaming “are you listening to the pain in your knees?”, “don’t you have something more important to do?”, “you’re sounding out of shape today”, “if you lost 5 pounds this would be a lot easier”, “a stray dog is lurking around the corner” and so on. And yet as easy as browsing to a different website, or channel surfing on TV – the other voice takes back the microphone. My unassuming Times Roman font voice says “you’ve got this”, “you’ve gone farther than you thought you would today”, “what a lovely driver for letting me cross the street” and “I’m feeling good today”. The font wars dual for the microphone. It is this the classic “can do” versus “can not”. The one where my champion voice (“you can do this”, “savor this moment”) duels it out with my self-limiting voice (“you know this is going to hurt”, “why are you doing this”, “maybe you should stop”) – and only at the end of a training run, or the end of the event — will I know which voice dominated my attention, made or broke my run.
The longer I run, the more tired my Broadway 72 critic voice becomes. It takes a lot of energy to stay red. To be screaming in my face for hours at a time. Broadway 72 represents wasted energy. Energy I need for my muscles. Energy I need for my mind and body to finish what it started. My unassuming Times Roman 9 champion voice is just “there”. Present at all times. Waiting for me to listen. Not making a fuss, not getting in the way of my run, a steady voice that builds strength. Especially over time. Times Roman 9 talks to me from the belly, deep into my core, where my pilot light of strength is permanently lit.
Each run is a new battle of these dueling font voices. It doesn’t matter if the run distance is short, medium or long. It doesn’t matter if the terrain is hilly or flat, desolate or filled with humanity. It doesn’t matter if the route is ‘same-o’ or filled with new twists and turns. What matters is how long it takes for Broadway 72 to tire, and to notice that Times Roman 9 always has my back. Times Roman 9 is my champion, my advocate, the voice that will encourage me to finish what I start – especially when I listen. NYC Marathon, Nov 2, 2014. Times Roman 9 and I are ready.
Join with me, and bring your Times Roman 9 voice – on November 2, 2014. 10:30AM start.