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Monday, April 18, 2011

Pay Per Mile

It's pretty late right now.

In fact, if all goes according to plan, I'll be awake again in about 6 and 1/2 hours to go for a five mile run, which doesn't really seem like enough time.

Still, I wanted to write this post before I went to bed so that the general idea of it could sit in my brain overnight and maybe, just maybe, motivate me to get out of bed and put on my shoes in a few hours.

I did a lot of reading today, and I found that most of it had a similar message. It started early this morning, when I woke up in plenty of time to complete my scheduled four miles, but chose instead to lay on the ottoman with the dog and think about all the ways in which I didn't have motivation. I contemplated all the reasons and excuses that you could imagine and found multiple ways to apply them to myself. I did this fully aware of self-pitying nature of it. Quite simply, I didn't want to run today.

And I haven't wanted to run for the last couple weeks. I managed to tell myself I did, but even then, I spent the entire time waiting for my leg to hurt. It was a pessimistic mindset, and I have no doubt that it contributed, step by step, to the resurgence of my injury.

Killing time before the workday was to start, I got onto Twitter to the fastest flood of tweets that I have seen in my few months on the site. One after another, they kept loading, many with repeating information, all with one excited voice. Patriots Day had arrived. The Boston Marathon was on.

Really, this is the Holy Grail marathon for me at the moment. It's my next big challenge, which means a serious drop in time. In fact, if I qualify for Boston after this year (when the qualifying times change), I'll have to run a time within 10 minutes of the first ever Olympic champion. That's just nuts. But I really, really want to qualify for the run. Sure, if I can't qualify, then there's always the possibility of getting in through a charity or something, but let's be honest; that's not what I want to do. Nothing against charity. Yay, saving people and all, but I want that title. I want to be a Boston Qualifier.

What a marathon we had on our hands today. Records falling left and right, two Americans very much in the thick of it, and everyone with running shoes and a Twitter handle getting into the action. To be honest, I was bummed and more than a little surprised to find that the race is not televised nationally, and if you want to watch it online, you have to pay $5, which I was not going to do. Fortunately, the play-by-play from Runner's World, Bart Yasso, BAA and others kept me right in the action the entire way, when I would take a break every 20 minutes or so to check in.

And even though for some stupid technical reason the world record doesn't count as such, what an amazing day of racing! Just knowing that you were a part of all that has to mean so much. Just crossing that finish line has to feel unbelievable.

So, I gotta do it. And that ain't gonna happen if I'm sitting on the ottoman.

This means I need a plan. Running needs to be, in some way, more instantly rewarding. I've got nine weeks to the next marathon, but it feels so far away, and I started training so long ago, that it doesn't feel like the goal is even in sight, especially not recently. I need something now that I can hold on to or do every day that makes me feel better about the long, hard road that is marathon training. What's the easiest reward available?

Money. For each mile I run, I'll set aside one dollar toward... well, something. I don't know what for sure yet, and I don't have a lot of dollars to set aside, to be quite honest, but it's going to be something fun. Not something that I NEED, per se, but something that I want. Maybe that Iron Man watch I've got my eye on. Or perhaps the iPhone that I'll get shortly before the rest of the world moves on to the next, better thing. Just something out there and frivolous that I get because I ran two hundred miles, or whatever it happens to be.

You see, this journey of mine isn't going to be cheap. I've seen many articles and blogs online of people who have set this goal for themselves and accomplished it within a couple years. Physically, that's very impressive, but fiscally, it's unbelievable. Combining race fees, travel costs, time off work, etc, these races can get costly rather quickly.

What this means is that I'm investing a lot of time, energy and money into what amounts to a 23-year-plan, and I would like to have something to show for it in the meantime, and if that means I finally get to play Words With Friends with everyone I know, then so be it.

Tomorrow, I'm going to put $5 in my fund.

And I'll be glad I didn't waste it watching the marathon today.

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