Do or do not. There is no try.

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If you don’t want to read this ridiculously long rant, my marathon number is 43760, and you can go here to track me on Sunday.

So it’s Friday, November 3rd, 2006.

In under 60 hours, I’ll have finished the 2006 ING NYC Marathon.

Hopefully, in under four hours.

It’s been a fun trip to get here… I’ve run a bunch of marathons in the past. But all of them have had one thing in common – I’ve trained, but it was all sort of half-assed training. It was sort of like, “yeah, I should run… OK, I’ll run. OK, I did five miles. Tomorrow, I’ll do… Oooh! Is that Pizza?”

Not this time, as you know. This time, since June, it’s been strict. Crappy strict. No drinking. No late dinners. No partying all night. Virtually no dating. (some would argue that’s not so much of a change, but that’s neither here nor there.) It’s been… For lack of a better word, real. It’s been over 500 miles of pavement, speed work, drills, Fartlek days, Tempo nights, crappy days that would have ended in a drink, now ended in another run. It was more than one time of coming in and throwing off a soaked t-shirt, only to have it mistakenly land on a cat. (Sorry, guys. That must have taken a while to lick off…)

It’s been “Out for a run – a long one” almost permanently affixed to my Trillian. 5am runs, 7pm weights… Monday lifting at NYSC on 11th Street, Wednesday and Friday at some other NYSC. It’s been abandoning my friends at night way more than I should have. It’s been getting threatening calls from Chrissy and the rest of the guys at Trinity, asking where I was, and if I was coming back, and telling me that if I wasn’t, they were gonna kick my ass. (I start again a week after the marathon, I promise. Don’t kill me.) It’s having L send me an IM that said “IT’S 99 DEGREES OUT. IF YOU ARE RUNNING, YOU ARE AN IDIOT.” It’s having to explain to my friends, on the rare nights that I DID go out, that just because I wasn’t drinking didn’t mean they couldn’t. Or, as I finally said when I got pissed off one night, “IT’S FOR A MARATHON. IT’S NOT 12-STEP. DRINK, YOU MORONS.”

It’s been singing in the park to my iPod, and people thinking I’m part of a Special-Ed class when I do it. It’s been meeting a truly spectacular group of people, and getting faster with them every single week. It’s been going from a 1:55 half-marathon to a 1:46 in under six months. It’s learning that things I thought were impossible were only impossible because I’d never done them before. It’s knowing I could eat whatever I wanted, yet strangely not having an urge to.

I should add that it’s been all this and never, never missing a client deadline.

However, it has been missing, off the top of my head… E’s wedding. The Ranch Halloween party. The Ranch 4th of July party. Two weddings with R. One with my parents. A trip to Florida. A trip to The Hamptons (although I’m not tremendously sad about that one.) Several family dinners. It was welcoming in the Jewish year with Diet Pepsi, as opposed to Manischevitz. It’s explaining numerous times to Grandma that even though I’m racing, I’m probably not going to win, and it’s not because I doubt myself, but rather because I’m not a Kenyan.

It’s all for Sunday.

It’s big, big, big props to George Hirsch and his wonderful son David, and they know why.

It’s been getting the iPod mix down just right. It’s been the SPECTACULAR people at Polar, who, when I brought my Polar 625X Footpod to them at the Marathon expo and told them it was not working all the time, simply gave me a new one, no questions asked. POLAR ROCKS. Customer service at the highest levels. Well done. It’s dropping $100 on one workout shirt and one sweatshirt, both of which say “2006 NYC Marathon” on them, because hey, this is New York, and that’s how we roll.

It’s questioning the marketing logic behind putting a packet of Tylenol PM in the Marathon Goodie Bag. It’s about having this odd feeling that people in other countries who don’t speak English who are racing the marathon might look at it and go, “wow, Tylenol… Pre-Marathon? And pop them before the race starts. And if, for some reason there are a bunch of sleeping foreigners at mile 12, we’ll know why.

It’s having virtually every friend out of town during the actual marathon. It’s having the irony of that not go unnoticed. It’s not wanting a party when I cross the finish line, because it’s not about that this year. For the first time, it’s about the race, not the “hey look what I just did.” It’s about coming home, taking an ice bath, then going out and having a beer with 50 of my friends who just did the same thing. (Or, as someone said to me, “wow, it’s about maturing.”) So yeah, I suppose, that too.

It’s about knowing that after this race is over, I really, really need to see a doctor. But more importantly, it’s about knowing I actually will.

It’s about not skydiving since September, lest I tempt fate and break an ankle with three days to go. It’ll be about catching up on my jumps over Christmas at the Z-Hills Christmas Boogie in Florida.

It’s about learning a hell of a lot about myself during those early mornings in Central Park, and coming up with some pretty good answers, for the first time in my entire life. Ever.

It’s about Sunday..

And then, on Sunday, it will be about me versus me. And only me versus me. I will race to break the bonds that have held me back in the past. I will race to prove I can. I will race to prove that I’ve nothing to prove. I will race to break four hours.

And I believe I can.

So I will race. And I will fly.

Thank you for putting up with me since June.

If you want to track, you can go to the ING NYC Marathon website, and enter in my race number – 43760.

When I started taking Instructor Walston’s Classes back in 2001, he got me really into the mentality of the Navy SEALs. I bought a book that I found on Amazon, called “The Warrior Elite,” The Foraging of Class 228” by Dick Couch. It was an amazing read, documenting BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition School) class 228 as they attempted to become Navy SEALs. What I take away from that book over and over again, is how some people simply have a will to win at any cost. They will have to die trying, because they won’t quit. I like to think that if nothing else, I’ve learned a little bit from reading and rereading their stories.

When the members of 228 graduated and went on to the SEAL teams, they presented a plaque to the school, complete with a poem. It’s called “Invictus,” and I’d like to share it here. Invictus translates to “taking responsibility for one’s destiny,” and it sort of sums up what I’ve tried to do these past six or so months.

by William Ernest Henley; 1849-1903

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

Nice, huh?

So come down to NYC, line 1st Avenue, or maybe trek up to the Bronx, or down to Brooklyn. Cheer, not only for me, but for 37,000 other people, all of whom are captains of their own souls.

Thanks for reading. I’ll report back after it’s over.

Never, never, never give up. – Winston Churchill

Peter – 11-03-06

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