In the classic novel Les Miserables, Jean Valjean, the story’s protagonist, is also known as 24601. His identification during internment, the number is a reminder throughout the novel of the pain and suffering the character experienced as punishment for his crime of stealing a loaf of bread.
I now also have my own self-identifying number, albeit one with a more positive association: 18351. It doesn’t have the same roll off the tongue sound that makes it perfect for a few musical notes, but it is the number that sums up everything I have been working towards for the past four months.
In less than two weeks, I will wear a bib reading 18351 and join nearly 30,000 others as we weave our way through Virginia and D.C. for 26.2 miles. As the day gets closer and closer, the anticipation is titanic.
Fellow runners in my training group ran the Chicago Marathon yesterday and while I could not have felt more inspired by all their posts and results, I also felt slightly jealous that I still have to wait until it’s my turn.
I just want it to be here already!
I keep reminding myself that good things come to those who wait, so these next 13 days will be spent taking care of me to the best extent possible. Lots of yoga, foam rolling, water drinking and of course, focusing on the ultimate prize.
Even at this late point in training, I still am unsure what to expect for my time. My written goal is a four-hour marathon. My unwritten goal is completion in 3:45. The most important thing for me to remember is not to go out too fast or let the thrill and momentum of the first few miles get to me and my legs.
Yesterday I completed my long run solo. After spectacular training weather, Saturday had the sound of beating rain drops accompanying my morning alarm, the first SLR of far from ideal running conditions. Pushing off the run to yesterday morning, I set off for 14 solo miles. But I wasn’t completely alone: fall has become my new favorite running partner. The changing hues of of the leaves, a slight nip in the temperatures, and the transition to long-sleeve apparel make it my preferred running season.
I started the first three miles with sub-eight min/miles, which I knew was unsustainable for the long haul. So with adjustments made, I fell into a groove with miles hovering between 8:30 and 8:45. If I can adjust my first few miles to that pace on race day, then I’m hoping to have enough energy left in the tank to finish my marathon with negative splits, and maybe even a few sub-eight miles.
So while Jean Valjean might prefer to forget the dark memories of being 24601, I’m hoping that the number 18351 will bring me luck and have nothing but uplifting memories associated with it long after I remove the bib bearing its five digits,