Marathon Psyching Series: 1. Accepting the Marathon Challenge

Leave the first response April 28, 2007 / Posted in Psyching Series

Marathon Psyching Series: 1. Accepting the Marathon Challenge

Marathoners, family and friends of marathoners, co-workers of marathoners,
anyone knowing someone participating in a Marathon, please pass this series
on to anyone running the first Marathon or thousandth. Or save the series
when you are getting ready for your Marathon. Thanks. Ozzie

Accepting the Marathon Challenge
© 2000, 2002 Austin “Ozzie” Gontang, Ph.D.

I have always known
that at last I would take this road,
but yesterday I didn’t know that
it would be today.
Author Unknown

In three words
I can sum up
everything I’ve
learned about life.
It goes on.
Robert Frost

George Sheehan, God bless his soles, knew from experience that we are all
called to be athletes, poets, heroes, saints and philosophers. Especially in
the marathon is this true.

As we drove to dinner that night after the London Marathon we saw her. Linda
had two more miles to go. With her hand braces supporting her, she struggled
step after step. As we drove by, she looked up, and our eyes met as I gave
her the thumbs up. She smiled. We drove past. I knew, my body knew. I had
been touched by this heroine. My body knew her feelings. My body resonated
to her challenge and success, and my tears and quiet sobs bound us as one.

The marathoner had been winding me in for the past mile. It was annoying to
hear his inane banter. “I haven’t seen the ocean looking so blue in years.
It reminds me when we were in Hawaii. Remember all those people cheering us
on that last mile. Your smile was so big, I was certain you were going to
sprint away from me.” And on and on and on. I was ready to tell the guy to
just shut up and run the race, when I saw out of the side of my eye that the
blabberer was doing a 3 hour pace marathon monologue so Harry Cordellos next
to him could get a picture of the course through his guide’s eyes. Harry as
you know is blind. God, even as I write these words about so long ago the
emotions and tears are alive in this moment…instant replay.

I came upon him at mile 17. Someone said Dick had started early since he
would be out there for a few hours longer than most of us. It was an odd
sort of gait. As I ran by and told him “Great going!” I heard his rhythm for
about a minute. “Step, shuffle, click; step, shuffle, click.” The shuffle
sound was made as he hopped so that the prosthesis of his above the knee
amputation could “click” into place for his next step. The rhythm stayed in
my mind for several miles. It kept me going.

I visited Tal at Casa Loma just 4 days ago. It was the first sunny day in
about two weeks. Tal reminisced about his first marathon at the Avenue of
the Giants almost 18 years ago. He was 61 back then. He’s had several
strokes in the past 4 years which has made it hard for him to remember. He’s
stayed active by walking 4 miles round trip to the top of Mount Soledad. But
now his knee has been acting up, and he’s frustrated. Even with all the
forgetting, Tal’s recollection of the marathon through the redwoods is
crystal clear. It is locked not only in his mind but in his body.

The Marathon is not something that can be bought or sold. One catches the
spirit of the Marathon. The Marathon captures the imagination of the
individual across two thousand years, one relives the victory of the Greeks
over the Persians. One viscerally experiences the mythic run of an unknown
messenger who announces the victory to the Athenians. Ten thousand defeated
sixty thousand.

Whether one travels the 26.2 miles with 20,000 other runners and walkers or
200; the reality remains the same. No matter how much one is helped in
training and preparation, no matter how many people are in the race; the
Marathon is ultimately run or walked alone. It is something that inspires
the individual. For he or she can now say, “I am a Marathoner.” The
interdependence on all those who helped in the marathon still must give way
to the conscious awareness: nothing is impossible to she who dreams.

As one marathoner put it: “I have tested myself. I have seen what I can do.
I have come up against my own unseen demons, doubts, mental limitations and
negative feelings. I have seen my fantasies, my expectations, my dreams
while realizing that I had to be grounded in the only thing I knew for
certain: the present-my next step. Being in the present, acknowledging the
moment, acknowledging my feelings, my fears, my excitement and my connection
with the other marathoners gave an entirely new perspective to time, space
and movement. I was one with humanity; but remained alone in my thoughts.”

The Marathon is a very personal event which one does publicly. The Marathon
is a personal challenge. The Marathon is one of the last personal frontiers,
where the individual comes up against the unknown within themselves.

The Marathon tests one’s metal, courage, planning, and self knowledge all at
the same time. The Marathon is a challenge which attracts thousands of
people each year from all around the world.

One can train and prepare to run a marathon. Real success is taking care of
the health of mind, body and spirit while preparing and finally running the
marathon. The marathon as metaphor transforms the finisher as someone with a
new and different perspective of time, space and personal effort. The real
marathon known as “Life” takes on a new dimension. One learns what an
endurance lifestyle is.

The athlete, the hero, the poet, the philosopher and the saint is alive in
the individual who accepts the Marathon.

In memoriam
To Marathoners who have touched my soul and those of countless others:
Fred Lebow, George Sheehan, Jeannie Blanco, Marian Gallagher, and Tal
Lovelady

Super Four Support Psyching Team
(Helping our friends along the way.)

Much of the marathon is a state of mind. The Psyching Team will place you in
the right frame to start and finish well. It will assist you along the way.
The Psyching Team knows the marathoner is in a trance state from mile 16 to
the finish. Shoulders relaxed. Jaw relaxed. Eyes on the horizon. Run tall.
Head erect. Breathe. Keep your form. These words will go with you now and
for all marathons. Dr. Ozzie Gontang has married the mindful and mental
training of 12 years of the Super Four Support Team of the Int’l Assoc. of
Marathoners with the 13 years of the NYC Marathon Psyching Team to assist
you. The voice of the Psyching Team will go with you every step of the way.
You’ll hear their voices along those last six miles. Focus. Relaxed Form.
Stay smooth. Flow. Breathe.

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