Monday, July 25, 2011

The End is Near

I can see the camp. It hit me this morning on my “easy” five miler. My shoes squished with each footfall over the last mile. The sun began to peek through the tree line and I wasn’t sure whether it would burn off the drape of humidity or steam the air even more. Whatever the case, I dropped the pace because I didn’t want to stick around and find out.

It was in that last burst somewhere in the middle of the steep rise that gives Ox Hill Street its name that it struck me: this is week eight, only 52 miles to go, and in 6m45s, it’ll be 51 until the tally reads 400.

Oh, how I longed for this week to come! After four weeks, I was bumping into walls. I couldn’t get enough sleep no matter how hard I tried, and the grocery bill seemed to double. “Four more weeks of this?” I questioned.

But then it started happening. The fatigue left (my legs at least). It seemed no matter how many miles, no matter how many times a day I ran, I couldn’t get sore. All those articles, all the experts’ words…it was working.

Make no mistake, though. The base phase is not glamorous; in fact, it’s pretty downright ugly. It’s the foundation of the house, the part that gets buried beneath the ground. It’s the hilt and “blade” of the sword, though that blade is just a crude hunk of metal, dull, blunt, and unrefined.

That’s where I find myself now, just six days and 43.4 miles (after tonight’s 7.6 miler) away from having built my foundation, having forged my sword.

I called this challenge "base camp" for the play on words as well as the metaphor for what a base camp is: it’s the launching point for the summit attempt. In this case, a marathon finish time that starts with a 2 on a clock in Central Park.

What I didn’t realize was that getting to base camp can be a haul in and of itself.

Just as the base phase is unglamorous in the middle, so too is it when it comes to an end. There’s no start line to toe. No finish tape to break. All that waits is more toil. 
When you arrive, the real work begins.

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