Last week was the Montreal marathon, a 26 miles running event. As they ran on my street, I was taken back 10 to 15 years in the past when I was still running these races. Nostalgia gripped me. Seeing all those runners grimacing in pain, I went straight to my closet and fished out all those medals that they give to the finishers. I pored over my diplomas certifying that I had indeed finished this mythical distance.
Most medals that I received have stood the test of time as they still look very good and were probably made with a bronze alloy. The medals that I had won afterwards fared a lot less well, as some of them darkened to a dark chocolate tint. This was no doubt due to the fact that the quality of the organization that organized the race declined somewhat. Money was tight.
Of course medals are nice but those who run these races do it for other reasons; to accomplish something that even today is considered hard or to exert persistence in the face of adversity. To show your mettle.
Once you finish the race you always think of next year, of setting new goals. However, I rarely was able to beat my times. But of course, one had to wait a sufficient amount of time for the pain to subside and the memory of it to diminish somewhat. The marathon is a beast that demands a lot and a good training for such an event demands 50 to 60 miles per week. A hard sell if you have to work physically hard as well, as was my situation for many years.
Of course I did my best, trying to cheat my way into better times by doing more cycling during my training period. But to improve in running you simply have to run more and more and better. No shortcuts there.
When you think about it, life is pretty much like a marathon race. You have to be in there for the long run. You have to persist in the face of pain, and despite all your best plans sometimes you do not make it to the finishing line.