Writing is a Marathon and Other Clichés

Who has time to write anymore? I do. A month since running the New York City marathon, I finally am getting back to what I should be doing and writing. I have half-completed manuscripts and edits piled up somewhere on this computer. The runner's high I felt training for the marathon isn't all that dissimilar from the high I get from writing.

I hate that running a marathon is a metaphor for writing because I have done both and, honestly, they are very different things. Very different. 

When I woke up at 3:45 AM to run the marathon in November, waiting in line at Bryant Park to get on a bus to get to Staten Island and sit around in the early morning chill waiting to run 26.2 miles, I wasn't thinking about characters. My bowels? Yes. My shoe laces? Of course. My hydration level? Mm hmm. I wasn't thinking about prose.

When we finally took off and ran across the five boroughs of New York, I wasn't thinking about plot and dialogue. I wasn't trying to perfect my transitions. I was trying to not faint in the heat while drinking sticky sweet energy drink as thousands of strangers cheered me on. That doesn't happen when I sit down to write on my couch. It just doesn't.

I slowed down a lot through Brooklyn into Queens, taking Manhattan even more slowly as I looped through the Bronx. It was hot. My body was tired. I ran, I got a cramp. I ran some more. I cried a little. I had no urge to pee (alarming). None of these sensations ever overtake me when I write. I mostly take naps and drink more coffee. I may go for a walk. It's all easy on the knees.

But as I swung around the south tip of Central Park, the crowd roaring in a way that you only experience at the end of a race, the the thumping base of the emcee beckoning you to the finish line, a smile creeping across my otherwise anguished face, I felt nothing but joy. Pride even. All that hard work, the weeks and hours of training, of running alone along the Hudson River, sweating in Prospect Park, eating healthy and sleeping early, it paid off in that moment. I breezed across the finish line and it was like typing that last period of a manuscript. You did it, kid.

It was a bad race. I won't lie. It was hot and difficult with no fewer than five bridges. I did not perform as well as I could have, but I performed all the same. It was my 13th marathon, so I'll give into the number and accept my lack of good fortune. Still, like every embarrassing story or novel I have written that will be just another mile logged in my own personal tracking sheet, it's work towards something better.

Now my training schedule is a thing of the past and I can start pounding the keys instead of the pavement. Writing is a marathon, sure, but it's one that doesn't chafe the nipples as much, and for that I'm glad to be at the starting line again.