Thursday, October 29, 2009

Are You Ready?

Hey sports nerds! We are halfway through Marathon Week! Everyone has finished tapering and started carb loading. The Expo opened today, and the chance of Marathoners thinking about anything beyond Sunday morning is absolutely nil. Work is left undone and families are neglected as thousands of runners get their names printed on singlets, email info for Athlete Alerts to friends, and watch the standby motivator; the ING NYC Marathon Inspiration Video. I've got one more thought for you.

My favorite part of every race is the anticipation. The night before, I lay my gear, my chip and my race bib out on the dining room table, set my alarm for 6am, and try to get some rest. The next morning I head to the park with breakfast in hand, listening to my pre-race playlist to get me pumped up for the run. At the park, I take half an hour to warm up, check out the sponsor tents and chat with friends. Then its time to grab a prime spot on the outside edge of my corral and wait. We go through the announcements, the pro racer intros and the national anthem. Then I hear my favorite words of the day;

'Lead vehicle, are you ready?'

This is the point where it all stops for a moment. You are hanging in limbo between preparation and execution. In the seconds before the start horn is sounded, all the prep work has been done, no action has been taken to undo it and decide the final outcome. You are at the top point of an inhaled breath. When you throw a ball in the air, it is the split second it seems to pause before its descent. It is the moment of pure, infinite possibility. It gives me chills every time.

In large races, I am usually too far back to hear the lead vehicle answer back with a 'ready', and I usually have to wait a few minutes after the horn before I cross the start line and begin my race, but I try to hold onto that feeling. I can imagine that my friends and teammates running the Marathon will have an even longer wait and no chance of seeing the lead vehicle, but the anticipation will still be there.

NYRR captured that moment quite well in the Healthy Kidney 10k 2009 race video. At about 35 seconds in, you see the start. There is also some great race footage shot from the lead vehicle, showing how it becomes the rabbit that you chase; telling you how far you've come and what you can still achieve.

Runners-Good luck on Sunday. I will be cheering for you all.