Marathon

This past weekend, Andy’s family came in for the Flying Pig Marathon. His dad ran the full marathon while his cousin, cousin’s boyfriend, and cousin’s boyfriend’s sister ran the half. I was merely a devoted spectator, but I spent all weekend carbo-loading in support of my runners.

On the day of the race, we woke up painfully early and found the world to be cold, dark, and rainy. The perfect day for a race, no? As we trudged through the gloomy streets of downtown, I couldn’t help wondering who would be crazy enough to run 26 (or even 13) miles in that weather. Or really, to run 26 (or even 13) miles at all! I mean, have you seen some of the hills here in Cincinnati? My muscles quiver in fear just thinking about it…

But believe it or not, there were 13,000 people standing by the Ohio River that morning, waiting for the gunshot that would signal the start of the race. And what amazed me was how diverse the crowd (of crazy people) was. There were all the different shapes and sizes — tall, strong, skinny, young — but also short, weak, fat, old — and everything in between — in all sorts of combinations. I’d always thought that it took a certain type of person to run a marathon, but on Sunday I saw that anyone could do it, even the ones wearing pink tutus, or baseball caps with curlicue tails attached.

(Note: I’m fairly certain the pig-related costumes are unique to this particular marathon.)

Andy, his aunt, and I spent all morning walking to various points along the course to cheer our runners on, and by the end of it, I wasn’t thinking, “God, these people are crazy.” I was thinking, “Wow, anyone really can run a marathon if they devote their mind, body, and heart.

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That’s Andy’s dad just a few steps away from the finish line. This was his first marathon in 10 years, and he beat his personal record by over 20 minutes.

As we walked around the post-race festival, Andy’s family kept joking that we should have “swine flu” now. You know, from the FLYING PIG marathon? (Har har.) In other words, seeing them complete their runs should have inspired us to train and run too. It didn’t.

But it did get me thinking. Writing a novel is a lot like running a marathon. And no, I’m not the first genius to think of it that way.

Depending on the genre, novels can range in length from 50k to 150k words, but even the shortest book can’t be written in a quick sprint. Just like the training that runners do before a race, writers have to devote their minds, bodies, and hearts every day to get to their finish line.

The truth is, I don’t know if I’ve been doing that. Mostly I have been telling myself, Just do what you can. Write however much or however little each day, until you’re done. That’s all well and good for most people, but can you imaging a professional runner gearing up for a marathon that way?

I don’t want to be a hobby runner. I’m not looking for some exercise to stay healthy, or a short-term physical challenge. I am in it to win it. I want to run marathons for the rest of my life. I want to reach not just one finish line, but a hundred.

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I will devote mind, body, and heart to my writing.

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8 Comments

  1. While I’ve heard the comparison between writing a novel and running a marathon before, and I agree in that both of them take time and dedication to complete, I’m not sure that one “trains” in the same way to accomplish the goal.

    I have heard of writers who write 10 pages every day, no matter what. That was their process. Maybe they use those 10 pages, maybe they don’t, but that act of writing something, anything, feeds on itself. That being said, I’ve never been that kind of writer. If I’m not in “the zone” there’s nothing to write. I have forced myself into the zone for school papers, so I know it can be done, but for creative writing, I’ve never forced it, and I don’t think that forcing it is necessary – not for me anyway. We all have to find our own creative path, and if there’s one thing I am sure of, it’s that there’s no one answer or one way to write a novel – or anything else for that matter.

    • Sonja’s recent blog post: FYI, I’m not kidding

  2. Les

    How’d you get the effect on the aerial photo? That’s neat. Also – my dad used to run Marathons. I just steal his Tshirts from the 70’s and claim them as mine. I will never run one of those.

    p.s. I will stop being such a comment slacker now – my site is back up!

  3. Trisha

    In following some of my favorite writers, I have often heard they set page(s) per day limits to keep themselves on track and productive.

    *shrug*

    Signed, not a writer.

  4. SLG

    I’ve always wanted to run a marathon, but I could NEVER see that happening. I’ll stick to writing, lol.

    Those are some awesome pictures too…. you’re a great photographer!

    • SLG’s recent blog post: Walter The Farting Dog

  5. Lol, finish swine. You can do it. I’m anxiously waiting to read it, and I have time this summer. HINT.

    (I wanted to run a Team in Training marathon, and then I realized I’m not sure I could raise the $2000 necessary to do so. But a lot of ad grads here run marathons/halfs or triathlons…meaning I’m the bad athlete here.)

    • Angie’s recent blog post: All about water

  6. Les-
    It’s a fake tilt-shift, as learned here: http://www.tiltshiftphotography.net/photoshop-tutorial.php

    Also, YAY for pillowcased! I’m so glad you’re back. ;)

  7. Not a writer either, but I could see how it is like a marathon. But in the same way runners recuperate, I could see writers taking a creative holiday to get the juices flowing again.

    Your devotion is already quite clear in the quality of your work (just sayin’). Glad you’re in it for the long haul.

    • RenaissanceTrophyWife’s recent blog post: Finance Lessons from the Oracle of Omaha

  8. Sonja-
    “We all have to find our own creative path, and if there’s one thing I am sure of, it’s that there’s no one answer or one way to write a novel – or anything else for that matter.”

    I agree wholeheartedly!

    RTW-
    Thanks. :)

    PS: I am so tempted to refer to you as “R-T-Dubs,” teehee.

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