Catalina Marathon Part 2: Imagination is more important than Knowledge
“We don’t need to be good all the time, we just need to love what we love for more goodness in the world.”
Catalina like so many of my goals was a dream. Just a vision in my imagination. Some years back, I learned the power of visualizing. Lately more and more of my readings have been pointing to the power of this latent ability of the mind. But the trick is to feel the results of your dreams. That is when the subconscious mind and the power of the infinite mind really kick in to create these very images and feelings in your world.
So what all that spiritual ramblings mean is that do this simple exercise to accomplish your running goals…
Visualize running the race you have always dreamed of doing. But feel the exhilaration of crossing the finish line–the joy, the exhaustion, the excitement of the crowd, and your pride for finishing the goal.
So I had been doing this for months. I had seen myself on the trails of Catalina, and crossed that finish line many, many times in my imagination.After arriving at Avalon, my parents picked me up at the boat dock and I had the good pleasure of their company for the weekend as I stayed on their boat. It is always wonderful to spend time with my parents, and this was an opportunity for them to spend the weekend in Catalina also. I ate breakfast with them to the pouring rain. Would it rain during the Marathon again? Would the trails be covered in mud making them unrunnable? Silly negative thoughts I had to quickly dismiss.
Took a nap, and watched the rain come down. As soon as it let up I went into shore at Avalon to go in and watch Southern Illinois University, my alma mater, play West Virginia in the NCAA tournament. I watched a half of basketball, quickly observing that SIU would get crushed by a larger, better organized team.
Then I tried to find the “greatest radio station in the world”. KISL 88.7 in Avalon. I found the radio station, but no-one was there. I had been listening to the station as I trained and their mix of real roots reggae on Sunday morning gave me the spiritual inspiration on those long trail runs. Unfortunately, you can only catch their radio signal right next to the coast. Well worth listening to. After too many chips and salsa, I needed something healthy so I found some vegetarian soup at a coffee shop and met Sophia, who was doing her first marathon. I love marathoners because anyone that chooses to run 26.2 has imagination and belief in the impossible that makes for a courageous interesting life. She shared stories of Morocco, training, and we reflected on spiritual principles of correct thought. I love when conversations get spiritual with someone I just met. I can learn something from everyone I meet.
Then the rain let up and I saw my first Catalina rainbow. I cannot remember ever seeing rainbows in Southern California and this month I’ve seen three. A nice reminder that the universe will bless us with beauty when we least expect it.
I registered for the marathon and headed back to the boat with my parents. I practiced yoga on the back of the boat, having to get creative with some asanas. I saw the sun go down. And I prayed for a good result the next day. That night prepared everything I had for the next day. Camera, electrolytes, vitamins, aspirin, vaseline, rain gear, sunglasses, and backpack.
The Next Day
My father drops me off at the Catalina Flyer dock the next morning. There 700 runners line up to get on the one way boat to Two Harbors at 6:00 a.m. in the morning. I met Jason and Rebecca in line who were also doing their first marathon as a husband/wife team. They had five kids, yet still found the time to train. I love hearing stories like this. Because it reminds me that I will still find time to run marathons as life progresses in the future. Plus it’s just plain inspirational. After tackling downtown LA traffic the previous years, to run the LA marathon, to sit on a boat in the early morning hours on the way to Two Harbors, seeing the sun come up, was a welcome change–another reminder of the beauty we are blessed with in Southern California.
The starting line was drawn in the dirt. There was not starting gun, no loud music, no crowded streets–a man said go, and we were off. The first three miles were uphill. Then we hit a downhill section then more miles of uphill. Some sections were so muddy, my shoes came off a couple of times. Generally I run with my shoelaces very loose, so I had to tighten them. Finally at about mile 6 we had a two mile downhill section and I had a chance to relax and flow down the hill. Other runners could not believe my speed and leg turnover, I later had to give away my real secret: ChiRunning.
Then miles 8-18 were a combination of hills and easy hills. Maybe you get the idea of how many hills were on this marathon. Then at mile 18 came “pumphouse hill”, the steepest hill on the marathon. I thought I might be exhausted, but I was just a little tired. I took my time swinging my arms, working efficiently up the hill, breathing, conversing with others, just enjoying myself, and soon, I was at the top and had my first views of Avalon.
Only 7 more hills followed that. Then the best part: the last three miles of the marathon were steep downhill, and began passing runners like crazy. I must say I was getting exhausted the last mile of the race, maybe I hadn’t quite trained as hard as I should have.
Results: 4 hours and 19 minutes. 113th place. 9th in my age group. I could not be happier with the results. In fact, I’m always happy with the results of a marathon. As long as I finish and enjoy myself. That’s the important thing, time is relative as Einstein would point out.
It was a dream come true to finish this Catalina. I met new friends, and came to see why runners return to this marathon year after year. I will return next year and want to train some other runners to run it with me so we can go to the bars after the race and do some real celebrating. Wanna join me?
Run with joy,