There are two vastly different views about hope, according to "The Shawshank Redemption." One: "Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane." The other: "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
Personally, I've never been able to decide which of those ideas is "right." It might actually be both. Or it could be neither. In fact, it might just be; maybe hope is what it is.
Therefore, it's not really a concept worth dissecting. All I know is that -- with less than four days to go until I line up on the Queensboro Bridge with thousands of other runners at the start of the 40th New York City Marathon -- I am full of it. Hope, that is.
I HOPE I can get at least a couple hours of sleep Saturday night. I know it's more important to get good sleep two nights before, but still ... and since the sad reality is that it'll probably be about 4 a.m. when I'm finally sleeping (i.e. having some horrible nightmare about my wake-up call not coming) I HOPE one of the 37 alarm clocks I set for Sunday morning functions properly.
I HOPE the weather cooperates. I HOPE whatever I ate the night before doesn't come back to haunt me and my belly the day of. I HOPE I make the bus to the ferry. I HOPE I make the ferry to Staten Island. I HOPE I can link up with the only other two people I know who are running Sunday, so we can help each other pass the time by taking turns going to the Porta-Johns.
I HOPE I have the ability to get up somewhat toward the front of my wave start, which might enable me to avoid some frustration and minimize the bobbing and weaving in the first few miles. But I HOPE that I have the good sense to go out under control, stick to an easy pace for a few miles, and then slowly warm up into my goal pace of 6:00/miles. (I HOPE you know I'm kidding there.)
I HOPE during the race to be able to see and be seen along the way by my parents and my incredibly supportive wife and daughter, who both endured 16 weeks of missed mornings together, of occasional crankiness, and of persistent babbling about running-related stuff they didn't really care about or understand.
I HOPE I went to the bathroom enough times before the race. I HOPE I don't eat too few GUs -- or too many. I HOPE to be able to "Breathe. Relax. Focus." I HOPE I remember that that's my mantra, because I kinda like it. I HOPE to be able to dig down deep after crossing the Queensboro Bridge at Mile 16, and to dig deep deep DEEP down once I hit the hills in Central Park in the homestretch.
I HOPE to finish injury-free, with a smile on my face and my arms raised above my head ... or at least a hearty pump of the fist goin' on. (Oh, and I HOPE I beat Edward Norton.)
But most of all -- even more than breaking 4 hours or hitting my goal of 3:45 -- I HOPE to soak it all in. To bask in the electricity of the event, to revel in the cheers of the 2 million-plus spectators along the route, to appreciate the fact that I've been given the opportunity to be a part of something special and unique. To take pictures with my mind, to make mental notes, to stop (metaphorically) and smell the roses so that two weeks or two months or two years down the road, it's not just a blur, but a vivid and wonderful memory.
To follow me on Sunday, click here for details on how to use the ING New York City Marathon's "athlete alert" tools. Or click here to become a part of my Facebook community, and you'll get pre- and post-race thoughts throughout the weekend.