Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
In 490 B.C. an army from Persia landed on the plain of Marathon, about twenty-five miles from Athens, with the intention of capturing and enslaving that city. The Athenians prepared for a battle that would determine the course of history for centuries to come. A victory for the powerful Persian Empire could destroy the independence of the Greek city-states and effectively end Greek civilization and culture.
While the massive Persian army landed, the Athenians sent a messenger named Philippides (his name was corrupted in later texts to Pheidippides) to Sparta to enlist the aid of the Spartans in the upcoming battle. He covered the distance of about 150 miles in less than two days, a remarkable accomplishment by any standard.
Back at Marathon, however, the decision was made not to wait for the Spartans. The Athenian army fell upon the vastly larger Persian forces while they were still preparing for battle. Against great odds, the Greeks prevailed. Though historians writing close to the time of the battle make no mention of the event, writers some 600 years later claim that a runner was dispatched to Athens to carry the news of the great victory. According to legend he reached the city, said, "Rejoice, we conquer," and fell to the ground dead.
It is that sense of mission, duty, and fortitude that the marathon evokes, which in many ways is the nexus between this 10-12-100 Campaign and the young, wounded soldier we are trying to aid by this effort.
And so after today's conference, I'll head back to Seattle and get a few, quick hours of sleep before getting up at 0330PST to begin preparation for my sixth marathon in this ten-race campaign.
Yesterday, I sat down with Dan Cruz, PR Director for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series, and we discussed the brutal profile for the back half of this course and the unfortunate last-minute pull-out of marathon legend Paul Tergat, of Kenya. Dan said that based on the difficulty (read: hilliness) of this course, consistent conservative estimates are adding anywhere from 4-6 minutes onto someone's average personal best. Given my aforementioned lack of 'real' training since Cincinnati, that doesn't sound good. My plan, however, is just to tuck into my pace group (yes, there will be one for this race), keep my head down, my arms pumping, and just hang on. Any way you spin it, this is going to be painful day.
It's 46 degrees outside this morning, but the sunrise over the rolling valleys and pines of the pacific northwest was gorgeous. With that, I must return to some client emails and then I'd better get showered and suited for today's busy agenda. Thanks for all your emails, texts, and facebook messages of support. It means a lot.