Since my birth as a runner in 1998, I have two DNFs (to those unfamiliar with runner lingo, that abbreviation stands for DID NOT FINISH) on my record. The first one is the inaugural Clinton Lake 30-mile Trail Run in 2007 (made it to mile 20). The second, the Waddell and Reed Kansas City Marathon in 2009... and... again, in 2010 (made it to mile 18... both times).
DNF... no runner likes that serving of alphabet soup. PR*. BQ**. Those are the kind of abbreviations I'd rather find in my proverbial bowl.
Oh, sure, that DNF is a great source of anecdotes - usually along the line of what-not-to-do during a race/training for a race (bottom line: if it hurts, stop before you do any real damage... This isn't the Olympics.)
So, much like a boxer who has sustained a couple of blows that knocked her off her feet, I get up again... to face the race. I'm signed up to run the Waddell and Reed Marathon on October 20. Round three... ding, ding.
Unlike my previous marathon (Flying Pig in May 2012), I'm much more subdued. I haven't posted a lot of cheery status updates on Facebook, as I had with Pig. No rhymes, no cutesy pictures of fountains (with over 200 in the city, KCMO is second only to Rome when it comes to having these water structures dotting our landscape). No, training for the KC marathon has taken on a heads-down, let's-get-'er-done attitude this time around. I've been slugging through the miles in relative silence, and fighting the demons of attempts past.
The first mile... yeah, Mile One... is uphill. Part of me is grateful since it hasn't ever felt like the other marathons I've run elsewhere. People aren't necessarily automatically crammed like sardines, running shoulder to shoulder. The climb sorts us out quickly, as we discover we're not taking off like rabbits. Mile 3-4 takes us up Kessler Rd, and subsequently, the bear of a hill on Wyandotte. The next big challenge comes around Mile 11-12, where we make the long climb up Sunset. Miles 21-24 will be a long climb, and though not steep, we'll be truly tested, as our legs have logged in at least twenty by the time we get to Harrison Parkway/Boulevard. The stretch on The Paseo, all the way to 18th Street will provide us fantastic sweeping views of the skyline and, hopefully, provide us much needed inspiration to stay strong and cross the Finish Line.
What the course looks like, in its 2-D glory. Deceitfully benign.
How I see the course, and the subsequent task of taking it on:
And much like Gandalf, I return... and I will be victorious.
Runner Lingo Decoder:
* Personal Record
** Boston Qualifier