True sport is always a duel:
A duel with nature, with one's own fear,
with one's own fatigue, a duel in which
body and mind are strengthened.
We have reached the point in the program relative to this year's New Jersey Marathon that, but for running the race itself, which the Blonde Bomber and I shall do tomorrow (in the company of several thousand friends we have yet to meet), all that remains unchecked on the docket is consumption of the night-before's dinner. In years past, we have broken bread at Maria's in Manasquan. I know not whether that is the appointed gathering spot this evening. Irrespective of where we gather, bread shall be broken and carbohydrates shall be consumed.
I shall spend dinner trying not to curse Gidg for being smart enough to have signed up for the half-marathon, no small undertaking in its own right, and having spared herself (to borrow a line from Pete Townshend) the "sweet ennui" that is Ocean Avenue between Long Branch and Asbury Park - a piece of real estate so nice that we shall run it twice.
This is my fourth and - barring a completely unforeseen development - final New Jersey Marathon. For someone who possesses no real skill to run this distance, I have covered it quite a few times over the past six years and shall do so again, in slightly more than six months, at the 2016 New York City Marathon. I ran two marathons in 2015 and shall run two again this year. Without intending to, I have morphed into the middle-aged equivalent of a hamster on a wheel in eternal, fruitless pursuit of the piece of cheese.
Next year, I shall be fifty. My goal - should I live that long - is to run one final marathon in 2017 as a fifty-year-old and then give up the ghost as it were. If I am fortunate enough to win a place in the lottery for the 2017 race, then I would love for the final go-round to be one final jaunt through New York City. If I am not, then I will put my back-up plan into action. One must adhere to the 5P's. Hanklin taught me well.
The best part of this year's New Jersey Marathon for me has been Brooke, the aforementioned Blonde Bomber. She has a contagious energy and an infectious spirit that has propped up this old curmudgeon on both of the long, on-course training runs we did together. I have every reason - as does she - to expect that her debut tomorrow shall be a smashing success. She has put in all of the hard work. All she has left to do now is to run the race.
Apparently, Mother Nature is working hard to ensure that hydration shall not be an issue tomorrow. Rain is the dominant theme in the forecast for Long Branch and the surrounding area (a/k/a "the course"). It matters not. It serves no purpose in any situation to worry about something over which you cannot exert even a modicum of control. That is especially true when running a marathon. It shall rain. We shall get wet.
It is what it is.