I haven’t written about it in a while, but one of my other interests is running. It’s inexpensive, good exercise, and I’m fortunate to live in a place well-suited for it.
Added bonus – plenty of time to think about whatever script I’m working on at the time.
However, the passage of time and some good old wear-and-tear are starting to take their toll. My pace is a little slower than it used to be, but I don’t mind.
I especially enjoy half-marathons. 13.1 miles is a good, solid distance. In the Before Times, I’d run about 6-8 a year.
This year, kinda-sorta. All but one of the races I’d signed up to do this year were cancelled. Race organizers, however, were undeterred. Runners were given the option of doing the races virtually, as in “you run the same distance, but on the route of your choosing, then send us your time and a map tracking your route, and we’ll send you your shirt and medal.”
With all of this going on, one of the things I’d always wanted to attempt was running a full marathon. 26.2 miles. Running a half wasn’t too hard, but taking on a full seemed much more formidable.
But the biggest challenge was I wanted to see if I could do it.
So I trained. A lot.
This is also where that part about wear-and-tear really started to make itself known – primarily in my heels and ankles.
But I kept at it, always trying to push myself a little more each time. I was confident, but still plenty nervous.
As the days wound down to Race Day, my anxiety levels were growing. The biggest question on my mind was “COULD I DO THIS?” My family were as supportive and encouraging as possible, but in the end, it was all me.
So I started out. The app in my phone announced at the onset that “tracking would continue for 26.2 miles”, which is quite intimidating during those first few steps.
“It’s the distance, not the time,” I reminded myself.
Off I went through the pre-dawn streets. Sunrise was still about 80 minutes away, and save for some hills and a bridge colored international orange, it was a pretty flat route.
The miles ticked away. I got to the halfway point, feeling pretty confident the second half might not be as challenging as expected.
Mile 19. So far, so good. At this pace, maybe an hour fifteen to go.
Mile 20. The wear-and-tear decides to kick in. For my heels and ankles. Steps got a little bit tougher to take. Then a stabbing pain at the base of my left shin. That doesn’t seem good.
I wanted to keep going, but was more concerned about inflicting further damage, so I chose the safest option: I stopped running, and walked. Not what I wanted, but at least I was still moving.
It’s the distance, not the time, remember?
I got to Mile 24 and thought “maybe I can run these last 2.2 miles” and ran for about 4 steps. Nope. The walk continued.
But I kept going, and eventually did cross the virtual finish line, with a time of 5:11:33.
Not the results I was hoping for, and despite some unexpected problems to deal with, the important thing was I DID IT.
One of the most apt metaphors about screenwriting is “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” It takes a REALLY long time to be able to do it, especially properly, so you need to keep working at it, constantly trying to do better.
The journey to finishing a script, let alone establishing a career as a screenwriter, might not be the one you anticipated. Everybody moves at their own pace, so don’t be discouraged if it seems like everybody but you is moving forward by leaps and bounds.
The important thing is to focus on becoming a better writer and making your script better. Work on crossing the finish line that’s waiting for you, and you alone.
Giving yourself a medal, however, is totally optional.