I don't know what it is like to prepare for a race. To train for distance. To work your way up to 13 and 26 mile marathons. I don't know what it is like to start in a large group and set your sights on breaking out of the pack and taking a leading role.
But I can feel the excitement around it. I have all week as Central Park prepares for the ING NYC Marathon. Those fast walks I take are in the Park. Each day I have been there this week, the energy was stepped up another notch. The signs, the bleachers, the tents, the finish line, all set up in anticipation of Sunday. The activity around the entrance at Tavern on the Green requires patience navigating. That's pretty easy to find on a day as glorious as Friday, the sun shining, the Park awash in full autumn splendor. I'm OK with taking a moment to revel in the blaze of golds, oranges and reds that make the Park so magical this time of year.
I stood at what will be the finish line on Sunday. I thought about what the draw was in coming to see a bunch of runners compare their times at the end of the race. I've been there on more than one Marathon Sunday. Waiting and cheering. Even though I don't run.
The runners are there for more than just a race. It is a great big 38,000 plus person reminder of what it is to have a goal. That to reach that goal takes practice and lots of training. It doesn't happen overnight. No dream worth having does. There is some pain involved, but if it really means something to you, if it is what tugs at your heart, you endure. You keep going, one foot in front of the other until you cross over that finish line. You get to experience the euphoria of knowing you did it. Finishing first is great, but finishing is what is most important.
I may not run. But I understand that feeling. I have my sights on my own finish line. Part of crossing it is believing you can. Once you step over, the fun continues, because you know you are just at the beginning of what is next.