We’d been waiting weeks for New Year’s Eve to arrive. Talking about it. Planning it. Making sure our schedules were aligned. Big plans out on the town? Hardly. At midnight on January 1, race registration opened for the Air Force Marathon, the event I’ve had on my calendar since September 16, 2009. When I decided to devote two years to getting into the best shape of my life, I chose this marathon to celebrate the effort. And I picked the Air Force Marathon for sentimental reasons.
- It’s on September 17, the day after I turn 50.
- September 17 would have been my dad’s birthday.
- My dad was a proud member of the Army Air Corp, which later became the Air Force.
My workout buddy, Lynn approached me several months ago to tell me she had decided to help me train. She has lots of experience training marathoners and half marathoners. Lynn assures me that on long-mileage days (18-22 miles), I’ll be tempted to throw myself in front of a moving car, so she’ll running the last five or six miles with me to keep me company…and sane. Later she told me she’s going to run the Air Force Half Marathon and afterward be my Sherpa as I finish my event. So on New Year’s Eve, Lynn and I had a phone date to register. (This was of course after we had New Year’s Eve dinner with our respective hubs.)
A few days prior to December 31, I realized registration was on Eastern Time. I’m on Central. Had I not figured that out, I would have been an hour late logging on. Then two days later the Air Force Marathon announced on its Facebook page that Facebuds were going to be allowed to register one hour ahead of everyone else, meaning this old girl only had to stay up until 10 p.m. or so.
At 9:55 Central Time, Lynn and I were on the phone, in front of our computers, credit cards in hand. A guy on the marathon’s Facebook page was making all kinds of funny posts about the excitement and tension mounting. FINALLY it was 10 p.m. and Lynn and I clicked through links until we arrived at the registration page. I nervously entered all of the requested info. Then I hit the SUBMIT button. I was registered! For my first full marathon! I was excited! And scared!
After making hotel reservations, Lynn and I ended the call. We had a New Year’s Day 5K in a couple of hours and needed to get some zzzz. An hour prior to registration I was nodding off in front of the television. Now I was finding it difficult to wind down. My mind was racing, no pun intended.
While my official training doesn’t begin until May, I’m now in a conditioning period to prepare for the high mileage. I remain “trained up” so that I can complete a half marathon, but I know I’m about to enter unchartered territory and I want to do everything I can to make sure this is a great experience. I anticipate a lot of pain along the way. I know there will be days I’ll wonder why in the world I set this goal. But I also anticipate feeling an incredible amount of joy and accomplishment when I cross that finish line.
And I know I wouldn’t want to trade that feeling for anything.