The Pittsburgh Marathon, which seemed so far off when I registered for it, is only five days away now. Since I’m not a runner (yet), I signed up to walk the half-marathon, which seemed like a reasonable goal for a healthy newbie pushing 40. After months of training, I’m pretty confident that I will finish, and I can’t wait to earn my participation medal. But what I’m really excited about is that I’ll be crossing the finish line with a friend. Because for me, nothing beats having a wacky idea like having a wacky idea, sharing it, and hearing someone else say, “Hey, I want to do that too!”
Life itself, of course, is also a marathon, but with fewer rest stops and not a single musical group out there to cheer you on. Some people travel alone, others in packs. The course can be steep and uneven, but it can also be breathtaking, and you can go as fast or as slowly as you want. Even if you never get up off the couch–a move experts don’t recommend—you’re in the race. Might as well make it a team effort, right?
And then there’s Midlife , that weird and wonderful time where you start getting serious about your physical health and your inner landscape. You re-examine your friendships. You worry about being a good role model to the kids in your life. The literal and metaphorical race becomes less of a sprint, more of an endurance challenge, as the milestones and checkpoints fly by. If you’re lucky, you have wise mentors ahead of you, shouting back encouragement, and whippersnappers behind you to nip at your heels and keep you sharp. But mostly, you’re looking for people moving at the same pace you are, to help you make sense of the whole experience…and to share cultural references with, of course. Not to mention, to keep you from taking it all too seriously.
Back in the world of the literal, I’m ready to wake up at a ridiculous hour Sunday morning so we can get one of the good parking spaces downtown. My shoes are broken in. I’ve studied the course map. I know where the water stations are. And we’ve walked our regular training route into the ground, building up both speed and endurance over time. Whether you’ll be walking with us, running ahead of us, or wishing us well from the couch, I hope your own race is a good one. For my part, I promise not to litter on the course, and to appreciate every step of the way. Any other advice for the journey you may have is welcomed with an open heart and a grateful spirit.
who seems to have inhaled a philosophical streak along with that birthday cake