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