I’m 15 days and 13 hours away from the starting line in Philadelphia and so with that in mind my mind has started focussing exclusively on me, what I need to do to get there in a timely manner, what to eat, what not to eat, when to get up, what to pack, what to wear, when to toss away the first t shirt, how long to keep the sweatshirt and on and on.

All summer long it’s been lace ’em up and go.  Sometimes long, sometimes short and sometimes not at all.  Those choices are gone in about two weeks as my only option is to head east as the sun rises over the Delaware River, make a right turn at I-95 and follow the crowd for the next 20 miles.

I can see where family members get fed up with all this marathon me, me, me stuff so my apologies in advance.  I could take up some other destructive habits like smoking, drinking, texting while driving or day trading stocks so back off.

There is no snow in the forecast so that narrows the wardrobe selections down a bit and the temps will not be near freezing so that also influences the choices.

One year in Philly it was cold, so cold in fact that water spilled at the stops froze on the ground and luckily someone had the foresight to provide sand and ice melt at the water stops.  A helpful note – Gatorade freezes too just in case you were wondering.

Aside from the externals like food, hotels and train tickets is what is beginning to go in my head and not that it’s unpleasant but it’s part of marathon.

Show of hands – How many of you who have run a marathon walk around the expo and think to yourself  “Geez – All these people look like real runners, they will all probably run 3:30’s and I’ll be following the trash truck that sweeps up litter.”

The expo can be intimidating can’t it?. One year I met Bill Rodgers at the Philadelphia Expo and got his autograph. Nice guy and a pretty fair runner too I hear.

Today during my run as I passed through three miles I tried to remember where three hits in Philly and how I have felt at that point in the past.  And how it feels at 5 and 7 and so on.

Also in my memory banks are the feelings of watching the above mentioned 3:30 runners heading towards the finish line while I’m on my way out to Manyunk and the turnaround.  Philadelphia may be fast and flat but it’s cruel in that way.  You get to watch everyone faster than you heading in while you are still heading out.

In the spirit of fair play I have to add that at a certain point in time and mileage I’m heading in while others are still running away from the finish line.  Life and 26 miles can be cruel.

There is a blog post from yesterday further down the line with a link to an article from The New Yorker.  It’s about what we (the enigmatic running public) think about when we run.  Go find it if you can.

And what do we think about?  What do we wish, what do we dream about, what do we pray for, who do we think about on our 26 miles?

I think of the Astronauts Prayer which goes something like this “Dear Lord, don’t let me screw up.”  My version is ” Dear Lord, let me finish.”

I think about songs, I sing out loud, I tell jokes, I make friends.  The crowd at 5 hours plus is very receptive to humor since we generally have a lot of time to talk and get to know one another.  One time I ran into a guy from my town in the middle of 30,000 people.  Our kids went to high school together. Go figure.

So back to the thinking – when I’m 5 miles from those lovely electronic timing mats at the finish line I imagine that I’m running a local 5 miler and using those mental mile markers against the actual marathon miles. Sometimes it works but most times it doesn’t. There are not too many unknowns in running a marathon.  It’s Point A to Point B.  Pretty simple except for the unknowns in your head, heart and legs.

On the surface running a marathon for anyone would seem to outsiders as just being a case of lacing ’em up and running.  But we know different don’t we?

In a couple of ways I have been looking forward to these last few days before the marathon for the introspective thoughts they bring and the terrific feeling of being alive and attempting to do something ridiculous and wonderful for myself.

These two weeks are part of my marathon training too.

This is gonna be great.