I needed today. This was the worst morning yet, the fall yesterday took a lot out of me. More than the cuts and abrasions, I woke up bruised and sore, wondering how my body would cope today. Ideally you want to show up somewhat fresh at the start of each marathon, not battered and beaten. The past three days had been really rough, so I was hoping today would offer some relief. Thankfully my hopes were answered.
The weather in Florida surprised us all. The forecast was calling for 80% chance of showers, but not a drop fell from the sky. Although it did get a little toasty at times, temperatures actually cooled toward the finish, much to the delight of all the runners. The course was well laid out, very flat (the biggest “hills” were three bridge crossings), and support along the way was abundant. The only slight bummer was a fairly brisk headwind, but if everything was perfect, it wouldn’t be a marathon.
The buzz at the start was electric. Not only were there a dozen first-time marathoners, there were four people celebrating birthdays! One of the guys was celebrating his 42nd birthday, here on the 42nd marathon, and today was his 50th marathon (though, he reminded me, they weren’t all in a row). We had a father/son team running, and the last marathon Dad had run was in 1980. There were a couple ultramarathoners in the group, a couple triathletes, and a competitive limbo dancer.
Several firsts occurred today. I saw the first alligator during the tour. We had our first professional singer start the morning with the National Anthem. And, lastly, as you might imagine, I’ve seen a fair number of road kills during the tour, but today I saw the first smooshed fish on the highway.
The group undulated quite a bit today. The main packed swelled and contracted with every passing mile,some runners dashing ahead, and some staying behind. As the run wore on, people seemed content to find a pace they were comfortable with, and go with it. Nobody was particularly concerned about much of anything besides having a goodtime. The atmosphere today was particularly easygoing. Along with the change in latitude came a change in attitude.
We came around a corner a couple miles from the finish and heard some chanting, “Forty-two, we love you. Forty-two, we love you…” There, waiting for us, was Team Trilogy, a youth triathlon club. The kids were so fired-up to see us, they were in uniform and ready to charge. We all ran the last miles,together. It was a terrific finish to another unforgettable day.
As we sat around eating birthday cake at the finish line, many people asked me what I’m going to doafter the Endurance 50 is over? I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but if I make it to fifty and am having this much fun, why stop? I’ll be officially unemployed, in the best shape of my life, with plenty of time on my hands, so why not just keep going? Until that point, I’m going to continue taking it one step at a time. But if I reach the finish on November 5th in New York City, who knows, the Endurance 50 might become more than that.
When will I decide? Like those kids from the Trilogy Tri team who ran with me today, I’ll just follow my heart and see where it takes me…
All the best from the Sunshine State,