This Sunday, March 4th, is the Napa Valley Marathon. I am signed up to run the race, along with 4 of my friends. But unlike my friends, I won't be crossing the finish line this time. My earlier stress fracture, which sidelined me in October, never fully healed, and I reinjured my leg back in January. This second injury left me unable to run and train. The irony is that my leg is now pretty much fully healed, but with no training or much running at all for the last two months, my role this time is cheerleader.
This is a role I fully embrace. Even though I can't run, it doesn't mean I can't contribute. So to my running friends - Sasha, Sara, Cindy and Janna - I will be in the race with you, to offer my support, encouragement, advice, wisdom from my experience, a ride to the start line and cheering along the course. Finally, Shannon, Leonore and I will be there with celebratory wine at the end.
So to my four amazing friends, here are my words of "wisdom" about the big day. Of course, since this is also Janna's second big day, she knows all this stuff already, so she can skip to the end.:-)
1. Use all the fueling knowledge you've been gaining from all your long training runs. Sit down this weekend and really figure out what worked best for you and only do that.
2. Embrace the tears; they will come. Maybe at the end when you cross the finish line. Maybe when you see your daughter and husband cheering you on along the course. Maybe when, like me, you get so close to the end that you have that moment of realization of what you are about to accomplish. Maybe when you think about all the wonderful friendships that have been formed during this process.
3. Enjoy the experience. There will be times on the course when you will feel pain, and there may be times that you feel discouraged, like you will never get to the end. When that happens, stop and take in your settings. You will be running through the vineyards of the Napa Valley. It will be a 70 degree day. For the next three days, all you have to do is drink wine, go to a spa and eat great food with friends.
4. Appreciate the accomplishiment no matter how the day turns out. I am confident that all of you will do very well on Sunday. But in case the unexpected happens - an injury, nausea, or just some fluke thing that keeps you from officially crossing the finish line - know that you are all marathoners. You are doing something that only 0.1% of the human population will ever do. You are now part of an elite family no matter how this day turns out because all the hours and miles you've already put in to prepare for this day have made you all marathoners.
And beyond all that, please accept my gratitude for all the support you have given me, both when I was able to train with you and once I got injured. I am grateful for all the friendships that have grown throughout this process and will endure long after this adventure.
Finally, thanks to Mea, Holly, Janna and Tara for getting me through my first marathon. Without all of you helping me finish that first one, I don't know if I would have handled as well the disappointment of not being able to do this one. Long live the Baby Monkey.
Now let's go to Napa and drink some wine, shall we?