This is it: We've begun the countdown in the last few days before my first marathon.
Honestly—and I'm certain this isn't a unique experience among runners approaching their first big milestone, be it whatever it may—I am full of conflicting emotions. Excited for the big morning, for the thrill of the accomplishment; afraid, and occasionally bowing to the nagging anxiety that maybe I won't be able to finish the darned thing. Exhausted, and stressed about how to wrap up training in a way that allows me to perform at my best on Sunday; ready to go, and rearing to go, and feeling stronger than ever.
Despite feeling all the feelings right now, I know that when I get out there, the most important thing to do besides simply putting one foot in front of the other is to do it with a smile.
All I can do is toe up in my corral with my fellow runners and breathe deep in the moment. All I can do is face that 26.2-mile course with the understanding that I am my own best friend and ally, and that my body wants to make me happy by running well and having fun. All I can do is look back over the past few months' work of work and say that it was worth it no matter what happens, and that this might be the first time but it certainly doesn't have to be the last.
All I can do is smile and enjoy.
Thanks to everyone who has listened to and supported me during this process—especially my sweetly patient nonrunning husband, Brett—and thanks, too, to everyone who donated to my race-day fund-raising cause on behalf of NOFA-NY. If you'd still like to contribute you're welcome to do so, even though I've met my goal. (Hooray!)
And with that, I'll see you next week—one marathon richer!