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Wednesday, September 17, 2014         

Marathon Ambition

I'll always remember three things about my first marathon: the people, the pain and the pageantry. The family members, friends, experienced runners and fellow marathoners who supported me through the journey -- because it really is the journey, not the destination -- that makes any experience remarkable; the pain I learned to listen to, power through and dominate; the spirit of those who came out on marathon day not only to run, but to run in glittering, outrageous, beautiful, hilarious costumes.

November is upon us, and the light at the end of the marathon tunnel shines like a beacon through the haze of 11th-hour training.

Music -- the universal, quintessential motivator. It can galvanize a couch potato, inspire a would-be runner and help a struggling marathon trainee maintain faith, hope and a decent pace. Music has the ability to invigorate and the even greater ability to calm. It has the power to rile us up and the power to focus our energy when we are pushing ourselves to our farthest limits.

"I always loved running; it was something you could do under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs." -- Jesse Owens, 1936 Olympian

Training for a marathon has been the greatest metaphor for marriage I have come across since getting hitched a year and a half ago. My husband agrees: Long-distance training has all the elements of a marriage, and some days we can't help but smile (or sigh, depending) at the parallels.

"Top athletes realize that running is a long-term sport," says professional runner Anthony Famiglietti in his blog on www.runfam.com. "It is set up for people who value delayed gratification and who like hard-earned success."

As I write this (with apologies to Robert Frost), the empty space on my couch looks sweet, but I have promises to keep, and six months and hundreds of miles to go before I sleep.


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