Consider this my 12-Step Group intro:
Hi. I’m Deb Elise, and I have a sick penchant for running marathons.
All together now:
Hi, Deb Elise.
I know for many people, running isn’t strange at all. There are people who love running, gazelle-like people built for speed who float out the door and glide along for miles without a care in the world.
I am not one of these people. I come from hardy Russian peasant stock. I’m built for toiling in the fields and popping out children. After ten years in the sport, running is still as much of a hideous grind as it was when I began. More of a grind, in fact, because for the past two years I’ve been dealing with a nagging pain in the butt I can’t seem to shake (insert your favorite joke here). Even a single mile for me is torture without the distraction of very loud music and/or great conversations with my running partners. The truth of the matter is I actually hate running…
…but I love doing marathons. It seems twisted, but my main reasons are pretty simple, and have a lot to do with writing.
1) There’s instant gratification. Everyone who finishes gets a medal. Usually a really cool medal. Writing can be a pretty solitary experience, without a lot of pats on the back. When we do get our work out there, it’s nerve-wracking. I can pour my soul into something I adore, but that doesn’t mean anyone else will respond to it at all. In a marathon, it’s cut and dried: you put in the miles, you get the reward.
2) You can’t give up. Okay, you can, but not if you want to finish and get that medal. You have to keep going, even though you’ll have moments when you dream longingly of cardiac arrest, purely because it’ll get you off the course. You have to fight the pain in your body, the tedium of 26.2 long miles, and the voice in your head that screams the whole process is madness, and if you had half a brain you’d be doing something easier, like bringing peace to the Middle East. For me, writing is a similar struggle. I have to fight against a lack of time, passages that don’t work and need to be wrestled into submission, and the insidious voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough and I should just give up. The beauty of those hurdles is that in both cases, when I do push through and finish, I feel like a superhero.
3) After running 26.2 miles, you feel completely justified in eating whatever the heck you want. This has nothing to do with writing, I just like it. A lot.
So here I am, fifteen marathons down and no sign of stopping. The picture above is from this morning’s (I’m writing this on Sunday) Disneyland Half Marathon. I hadn’t trained, and a lot of it was tough to get through, but in every picture I have a big smile on my face. My next race will be the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World in January (I have a major thing for Disney). Come join me! We’ll absolutely loathe it… and we’ll have the time of our lives.