A lot of people say that running the New York City Marathon was the best experience of their life. I hope this is true, because it would be really awesome to wake up tomorrow and have the best thing that has ever happened to me happen to me. However, I doubt that this will be my case, because I have eaten tacos al pastor from a street vendor in Mexico City after drinking mezcal all night and woken up fine the next morning. This, to me, is a more impressive physical feat than any number of miles ran. I have ridden on a 18-hour bus to Guatemala, during which I saw a dead body and got robbed; I think, again, that this was more exciting and terrifying than the five-hour slow jog I’m going to slog my frozen ass through tomorrow. You know what would really impress me? Getting a 25% tip on a table of seven half-black half-Indian retired teachers from the Midwest who were eating an early Sunday dinner after temple. That’s something no one has ever done.
In any case, regardless of your opinions of marathoning, and running in general, the fact is that the New York City Marathon is literally hours away. Regardless of your opinions of adult bowel movements, I’m literally about to shit myself. This is what seventeen weeks of pent-up stress does to you. (Of course, I’m not actually going to, because all I’ve eating for the last two days is pasta and Gatorade.) Let’s not even mention the fact that I’ve just started watching Game Of Thrones, and there’s a distinct possibility that I could be up until 5 in the morning dealing with the Season One GOT Marathon, and could just end up sleeping through the entire Actual Marathon.
So in every article or story or memoir about writing, there’s some part about The Why: Why has this particular person decided to take on running? The sense of accomplishment, they say. Overcoming a personal struggle. I get this time alone to clear my head. Do something scary. Be strong. Make life worthwhile. Focus. Passion. Concentration.
Me? I personally can honestly say I have no idea why I started to run, and even less of an idea why I decided to run a marathon. If anything, it’s made my social life essentially nonexistent, and my travel life a distant memory. I’ve ran in two half marathons, one eighteen-mile race, relayed two triathlons, and participated in a handful of five to ten kilometer races. I have not left the country a single time. If I put the miles that I’ve ran in 2014 in a straight line, I could probably be somewhere in Central America by now. This is inexcusable, and makes me really depressed: “Plane fare was $400 round trip to Managua, but instead I bought really expensive sneakers that I can’t even wear out to a restaurant, and a shit ton of sugary gels masquerading as food.”
I’ve mentioned before that running, due to being an sport in which anyone with two functional legs could technically partake, begets a lot of unsolicited advice.
“You’ll fuck your knees up for life,” a friend of a friend will say to you, while sucking on a Parliament Light and being overweight.
I recently slid my last 20 mile run before an appointment downtown. The receptionist, after making the knee comment, asked how long it had taken me.
“Three hours and forty five minutes, with only a little bit of walking,” I said proudly.
“You WALKED?” He spat out, aghast, as he reclined comfortably in his rolling desk chair. “That’s, like, not allowed.” Funny, I wanted to reply, I didn’t know answering the phones in a fingerprinting office meant you were qualified to do, well, anything.
Point being, it would seem the general American populous, only 0.17 percent of whom have actually run a marathon, has plenty of advice for those of us who are about to take the plunge into the 26.2 mile abyss. It’s akin to an unmarried disgusting friend giving relationship advice.
“Women’ll rip your heart out through your eyes,” he’ll growl, that same Parliament Light now singeing his fat, untrimmed fingernails. “Give ‘em an inch and they’ll have your dick skin in the back of their molars by sundown.”
“Look at your training log to feel motivated by all the hard work you did,” is a common thing people tell you when you’re expressing doubts about your capabilities to complete the race. Yeah, that’s a stellar idea. Let me whip out this notebook where I periodically annotated small distances over the last five months. Oh, I’ll need some time; it’s hard to find the numbers in the sea of red X marks denoting all the days I didn’t run.
“Dedicate every mile to someone or something you love,” is a twee-ass Pinterest-douche idea I hear quite frequently. Marathon mile dedication?? That’s almost as mean as asking someone to be in your bridal party. “I’ve spent the last half of a year complaining about and dreading this moment, Dear Relative and now I pass that evil Mile 20 energy unto you.” That’s fucked up. Now, if we were dedicating Hate Miles, that would make more sense. “To the ex-boyfriend who was a stallion for the first five months, and then never lasted more than two minutes, I pound the pavement of Mile 17 in a way that you never did to my vagina.”
Now I’ve certainly never ran more than 20 miles, let alone 26.2. But I do think my training qualifies me to give a little more advice that, say, 82 percent of the population.
At this, the eleventh hour (or twelfth, what with Daylight Savings Time – thank the seven gods for that one!), there’s no sage running wisdom I can impart that would do anyone any good. However, as a former undergrad and grad student, not to mention relative rapscallion, I do have some non-running-related ideas that could give you that last-ditch push towards the finish line.
1) The Cheat
It’s dirty, it’s dangerous, and it’s pretty disgusting, but if you skipped a couple of long runs in favor of long nights out, and are feeling like the adrenaline isn’t going to be enough, you’re going to have to get your boyfriend or girlfriend to cheat on you. Just do it. Hire someone, start a fight for no reason, let your best friend do what she has been wanting to do since that fateful night he chose you. Instigate. Salt wounds. Do whatever you need to do to get the SO to fuck someone else. Even though you orchestrated it, you’ve still been cheated on! The relationship wasn’t as strong as you thought! That (man)whore! Use that passionate rage to break personal records.
2) The Not-So-Neat
The aptly named number two suggestion is also dirty, dangerous, and disgusting. When I ran the Grete’s Gallop Half Marathon, as I rounded Central Park South, I saw a sight that had previously been running lore: An old woman who had not eaten well the night before, as evidenced by a mudslide provening in her asshole and terminating at her left and right ankles, traversing everything in between.Let’s get it out of the way before I go on: She had a shitty day; she ran the shit out of this race; talk about going for a run; she’s going to mark this one as a success in her running diah-ry. Moving on, I am convinced that it is the sight and presence of this woman that propelled me into my fastest half marathon to date. I ran 18 minutes faster than I had in the same race in 2013. Knowing that someone is covered from waist to toe in their own feces is not something you need to keep seeing, as the image will be burned into your brain. Knowing that, if I slowed down slightly, she would be there, in all her brown glory, kept me on my toes. Do you want to be running next to a human sewer for the last 14 miles? I wouldn’t either. Stake out the person who’s eating a bacon egg and cheese in the Starting Village and you should be on your way to a successful run.
3) The Winter Sweet
Candy for those long nights locked inside with nothing to do with term papers. Take Adderall. Seriously. And energy drinks. Stop at every cafe on the way. Have people stationed throughout the course with shots of espresso. Mainline Red Bull. You’re not Lance Armstrong, you have no companies drug testing you – dope yourself up. Just do it. Chug whiskey, take morphine pills, get yourself into a state that makes those 26.2 miles feel like 2 and a half. You ever wake up the morning after a night of pill popping and vodka swilling and realize that you walked halfway across the island in heels so tall that even a drag queen would be scared of heights? That’s where I’m going with this.
Admittedly, I don’t have much advice to impart, which is fine, considering I’ve never done this. They say it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. But what if you go into something knowing that you and thousands upon thousands of other people are going to lose? Do you win by default? They say that everyone who finishes the marathon is a winner. It would seem, honestly, they have a lot of things to say about sports. So tomorrow, as I lose gracefully, or maybe not, considering the mileage, will I be winning? We’ll see. My best bet now is to slowly eat an apple, foam roll a little, and hope I can sleep for more than thirty-six minutes before my alarm goes off tomorrow.
And ladies, please: if you happen to have sex with a guy who’s dating me tonight, make sure you put that shit on Instagram. Me and my eleven minute miles are gonna need all the help we can get.