I am starting to go through the final training rituals as I prepare to run the New York City marathon. There are people out there that run multiple marathons within the year or make a hobby of running a marathon in every state, but I am still amazed that I can run a marathon at all, especially this year. They say life imitates art, and in this case perhaps it also imitates sport. I’ve been running hurt, running injured, and running in pain. I’ve been to a doctor, a specialist, three different physical therapists, and I’ve had to learn how to not only cope with the pain, but run through the pain. I’m not cured, but given the right talisman, perhaps I will make it across my next finish line in record pace. I am a believer that people like me, people that you count out and never expect to lead the pack can surprise you. All I need is a magic feather.
When my daughter was young, her favorite video was Walt Disney’s Dumbo. She would watch it cheering for the baby elephant. She would not allow anyone to refer to the movie or the character by “Dumbo” because if you know the story as well as I do, the baby elephant is actually named Jumbo, Jr. “Dumbo” was a taunt, mean-spirited name calling by all that underestimated the power of belief. But Dumbo/Jumbo Jr. surprised them all. And his belief started with a simple talisman – a magic feather.
So, as I prepare for my final long training run this week, experiment with what training attire will leave me warm but not too warm, and contemplate on how to stay chafe-free, I’ll be looking for a good-luck charm. For my first marathon it was my playlist, when I ran Boston for the first time it was the number 50 in celebration of my 50th birthday, and for my last marathon, it was my pink shoes that promised fleet feet and instead barely kept me from melting into the asphalt. For this marathon, the New York City Marathon, there are so many possibilities, so many symbols: liberty, bridges, apples, glitz and glamour. Or perhaps my talisman is already here. Perhaps it is the pain that I can’t seem to let go of. And perhaps, just like Jumbo, Jr., I will only have to hold onto my feather until I discover that I didn’t really need it afterall.
© Kelly Tweeddale