As I sit here, typing this, fresh off a tune-up run of 3.6 miles (at a 9:03 pace), keenly aware of the cramping and soreness in my right calf, I'm reflecting on the training I did for the '05 and '06 marathons. I'm struck by how naive I was going into the '05 run and sorely underprepared for that race I was come race day. I figured guts alone would carry me through the race. I remember how DETERMINED I was for the '06 marathon to overcome the disasterous failure that '05 was and how relaxed and comfortable I was on game day. In '05 I was so uncertain of my ability to accomplish the marathon, but in '06 finishing was a foregone conclusion by the time I toed the line.
Today I'm running faster than I ever did in '04 or '05, but I'm still uncertain because I haven't been running FARTHER than I ever did. In fact, though I'm running more, I'm not running farther. This is the same thing that put the kibosh on me running in '07--I simply didn't want to put the time on the road that running a full marathon would require. I had very little interest in trading 3 hours with my new baby son for 3 hours of grinding out 10 miles on the road.
Of course, at the speeds I'm running now I should be able to grind out 10 miles in closer to 2 hours.
Nonetheless, I've been seriously considering merely running the half rather than the full simply to accommodate my home/work/school schedules. On the other hand... the marathon is a special thing. The pipes, the communion wafer, the bridge on Westpark, the stretch through Memorial Park, the entrance into downtown... All things that are unique to the full marathon as they happen after the 8 mile mark.
I'm not questioning my ability to do the run. I'm questioning my priorities, which I have in the right order. I question the sanity of anyone who will look in the face of their child, or wife, and say "no, i can't play because I'd rather go run, by myself, for a few hours". Son, you're less important to me than this run that will be there next year... and the year after... and the year after.
On the other hand (yes, the third hand), if I continue to add speed and power to my running, I can actually train for a marathon without sacrificing 3 or 4 hours, because the speed will be such that I can do in 2 what I could do in 3. Of course, that's another year away, at least.
No bother. Tomorrow I have a 10k, and it'll be an honest to goodness race against someone who is, by all indications, faster than me. Maybe I'll get lucky and be able to hang for a few miles before konking out.
I guess what I'm looking for is a sign, like that angel in 1 Kings 19 that touched Elijah and encouraged him to eat, regain his strength, and continue on his mission.