For years I’ve been envious of people who run marathons. Envious and a bit incredulous as well. I mean, the kind of normal coworker, neighbor sort of folks who have regular lives and then decide every once in a while, “I think I’ll run 26 miles just for the thrill of it!” What? Really? I just can’t seem to imagine that.
A few years ago my daughters and I were in Manhattan, staying at my brother Dan’s apartment on Central Park West, right at the finish line of the New York City Marathon. I stood in awe, watching people older than me, and in less than great physical shape, cross the finish line, grinning or grimacing, wrapping their shivering bodies in metallic blankets, one after the other for hours.
All of them had decided at one point that they could do it, should do it, and they did!
Bob has always said that I could do it too if I really wanted to. All it takes is discipline and determination, two things I have in abundance. Nice thought, but it’s just not true. I could not do it no matter how much I willed myself to. I don’t believe I have the right stuff. I’m not up to the challenge.
But lately I have been thinking about a different kind of marathon, one I’ve been training for nearly a lifetime. I’m at mile 25, the finish line so close I can see it from here. I’ve been running an academic marathon, sprinting towards a dissertation defense for the past three years, and next Friday, I will be victorious!