Kermit The Frog sang it well, "... a Rainbow Connection; the lovers, the dreamers, and me."
Often my visions of a possible future are crystal clear. Sometimes so clear they are joined by sounds, scents, and feel. They come in an instant, make their mark, leave just a quickly, and usually return. Along with the vision also comes a plan to make them real; a road map, compass, and instruction manual all delivered in a moment.
That's the ethereal.
Then there's the earthly.
Having a vision and a plan without the labor is merely fancy fantasy. Inspiring as they may be, their usefulness is nil. To make any worthwhile goal a reality you have to get dirt under your fingernails, sweat, and stink up the place. Inspiration without perspiration is like unrequited love; or unrequited wrong. Take your pick, both are unsatisfying.
Maybe because I've run it twice before, my visions of the race are that much more clear. Beyond the vision, I feel the memories on my skin and hear the sounds in my ear. All of it recalled clearly. I see a sea of runners bouncing past the Doughboy in Hopkinton, hear the cacophony of the women of Wellesley, feel the cramping legs cresting the hills of Newton, and finally all three while turning left from Hereford onto Boylston Street for the quarter-mile dash to the finish. I'm damn near sweating just thinking about it.
Again, that's the ethereal.
Now the earthly. My training for this year's Boston Marathon is bogged between vision and stink. The moment I learned I was invited to run the world's greatest marathon, the vision of finishing strong and happy made my heart race. It was my athlete's clarion. That's the inspiration. Then came the part about the sweat and dirt under my nails.
Early in my training plan, when the runs were short and intense, I ran them well and felt great after too. But as the days turned into weeks and the runs became longer, and recovery between them shorter, I began to flag. Each training day was more of a chore than a day to excel. "Boston, here I come," was replaced with, "Boston, ugh!" Twice I have run 18 miles as prescribed by my schedule - like downing caster oil - and twice I bonked at 15 miles; reduced to walking most of the remaining three. Afterward, there was no runner's high, no sense of accomplishment, and no satisfaction of maintaining the schedule. Instead; I was hurt, sick in my stomach, exhausted for the rest of the day, and dejected.
Enter the mercurial.
Only 18 days until Boston, and just one long-run remains on my schedule; a 15-miler. Not only am I not interested in the training run but my excitement for the greatest marathon on earth has faded. Perhaps it's because I am, for the third time, going into the race under-trained or perhaps the earthly and the ethereal haven't thrillingly joined together as I saw in my original vision, but clashed; doing that unrequited love thing I mentioned earlier.
Regardless of how I feel today, I will get the training done with due effort and response. My hope is that it's enough.
Do the late training days betoken a bad Boston or will the early dirt carry the race?