Spirit of the Marathon

I watched Spirit of the Marathon a few nights ago and I’ll admit it…I cried. That sweeping helicopter shot over the huge crowd at the starting line always gets me. More than any other part of my marathon and half marathon experiences, the feeling of anticipation while standing in that crowd of people at the start is etched solidly into my memory.

The movie wasn’t quite what I expected. I thought it was going to be a documentary about elite runners and how they train, etc. Instead, it follow 6 runners of very different backgrounds as they train for and eventually race the 2005 Chicago marathon. There are two elite runners, but the others are a varied group of people: 2 first time runners, a 70-something man and a 30-something guy trying to qualify for Boston. Interspersed are interview clips with historians and famous runners commenting on various aspects of training, racing, etc.

Watching the group training runs in downtown Chicago made me miss my Saturday morning dates with Richie, Justin and Steve. I haven’t even seen Justin and Steve since the marathon and only saw Richie briefly when I dropped Alice off to babysit his son a few weeks ago. I was on the tipping point of ramping up my training and the movie seems to have pushed me over the edge. If there had been any light left in the day when the movie was over, I would have laced up the racing shoes and immediately ripped out a tempo run.

Instead, I had to wait for the morning when the feeling had died down a bit. I still made it out and in some of the hottest weather we had all summer, I ran a warm up mile, then ran hard for 3 miles, threw up about 4 times and then ran a cool down mile back home. After work, I ran to the gym with Alice, did a leg workout and then ran home. For the first time in a long time, I slipped into bed physically exhausted and slept like a log.

I’m certainly far from the shape I was in earlier this year, but I’m mentally back. I can feel that the speed and endurance will quickly follow.


  1. Nice Brian! Glad to hear that you’re back into the game. So much of what we do as runners is mental. If we’re not mentally ready, then we’re pretty much dust!

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