And each entrant will ask one question.
Where does the strength come from to see the end of the line?
Surely faith isn’t enough.
And while strength of heart is surely required,
A fiery heart isn’t enough to solve this riddle either.
And on its own, an analytical mind devoid of soul, is all but useless.
Break the race down into stages and percentages – too much too fast will doom you to failure.
Remember to ask yourself about these things.
For in time, you’ll see that agreeing to keep in the game is only one part of the journey.
And reaching that initial goal doesn’t spell anything resembling victory.
So, stock up on the guts you’ve built in training.
You’ll want every one of them.
During miles 1 through 5, simple adrenaline will proper you along.
Sure, you’ll wish for younger legs, but without a plan, that won’t do you much good.
This is a thinker’s race where an older, wiser mind has a decided edge.
You’ll be tempted, but try not to project too far ahead.
I’ll be several hours before you reach that payoff.
And when that occurs, there may not be left of you to solve the riddle.
Miles 5 through 10 serve to complicate the riddle.
Did I train enough?
To be standing at the end?
When you’ve got dogs on your legs, pumping your arms won’t feel much like progress.
You’ll have ample time to explore the question.
But by then, all the logic in the world won’t solve the riddle.
By mile 10 and then on through 15, reverse psychology could home in handy.
You’ll need to think more of where you are vs. where you’ve been.
And of course there are still so many questions.
Did I drink at every station?
Will the roar of the crowd pull me along like they always say?
Can I call on all of my past failures and frustrations to will me to the end?
Miles 15 to 20 pave the way toward the line.
The time for your mind to command your body has come and gone.
Past may be prologue, but by now, every last bit of inspiration is required.
Suddenly, the game itself has become the riddle.
And “the wall” you’ve always heard about?
Yes, it’s real.
Six miles still remain.
And even though your mind is racing with questions,
You don’t have time to figure out the answers.
The reach for that end line isn’t a riddle any longer.
It’s right there in front of you.
So, stride forward; the journey to yourself is right up ahead.
©Copyright 2004 by John L. Fischer