You’ve probably heard it referred to as “The Wall.” It’s that point of exhaustion during a marathon that runners sometimes reach when their bodies don’t want to obey their minds. Not every runner experiences this, but when I ran in Omaha four years ago, I felt this first hand. It was right around mile 22.
The cause of this fatigue is not just the physical demand of the race. There’s also a wearing down of the mental faculties. Legs tell the brain to stop, but the brain says no, there are more miles to go. Feet join in the argument with legs and brain and now its two against one. Feet and legs keep nagging, while brain has to work overtime to contend with the extra resistance.
As brain grows weary, he starts to buckle. He has a conversation with himself, calling into question his decision to tackle such a race. It was his decision, after all. Feet and legs had nothing to do with it. They only agreed with brain initially.
The last few days have felt like those last miles of the marathon. I knew in my mind that it would be like this, but even so, feet and legs are reminding me of their innocence. Touching the soles of my feet at the end of the day are like pressing on the carotid artery on my neck. I can feel my pulse just as easily from the increased blood flow.
Like the race, there will come the time to stop and sit down. I’ve run enough to know this, and it is this memory that I call on in times like these. The joy of finishing the race is greater than the relief of dropping out, regardless how long it takes to cross that line.
So if I look a little bleary eyed, I’m sure you’ll understand.
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