Last updated: Feb 29, 2008

One of my favorite movies in recent years has been the Eminem flick, “8 Mile,” because beneath the swearing and rap-culture overtones, theres the story of an underdog who overcomes all odds and wins.


The movies final scene takes place at a rap “battle,” where rappers and MCs randomly take the stage to spit out improvised combinations of words and rhythms. Combined with some awesome acting and music, theres no better type of story. Ive always been a fan of the underdog.

The theme song, “Lose Yourself,” won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Music / Original Song, and once again, if you can manage to overlook the four-letter words, youre left with a piece of music so lyrically and rhythmically genius, it will leave you breathless.

It leaves me breathless about three times a week – because it is positioned on my running playlist at exact the point where I need that extra “oomph.” The words “Success is my only … option, failures not,” hit me right where it counts. Time and time again, without fail, the song powers me through the next 10 minutes when all I want to do is quit.

Im coming up on my 8-mile training run this weekend–it will be my longest run to date, and in my mind, it marks my transition from “someone who runs” to “a runner.” Runs of five, six, and even seven miles seem easy enough, but for some reason, eight miles is my mental crossroad. Although Im nervous, Im also filled with eager anticipation.

Ive had an excellent week. I breezed through my three 45-minute runs during the week, I cross-trained twice, and I stretched twice per day. I cooked every single meal at home, eliminating as many processed foods as possible. I havent had a sip of any form of liquid other than water and a few cups of coffee since Sunday (and wont enjoy so much as a single glass of wine until Saturday night, when the run is over), and Ive been getting to sleep before 11 p.m. As per usual, Ill be eating pasta for dinner on Friday night—my favorite part of marathon training—and rising with the sun on Saturday in order to beat the crowds and the heat.

I feel GREAT–and this is where the training lifestyle really agrees with me. I dont feel tired or burned out, I dont feel over-trained or over-worked. I feel as though training for this marathon is forcing me to live the healthiest lifestyle possible, and the side-effects (in addition to weight loss and an increased running pace), are sound sleep, energy, increased productivity at work, and a smile I cant keep off my face.

I can feel myself playing the role of the rising underdog–reaching that 8-mile mark and ready to go beyond, to fight and to win my battle. I often “lose myself” in my running–I get to the point where Im not thinking about putting one foot in front of the other anymore, not thinking about my to-do list or how badly the house needs to be cleaned. Im just out there, enjoying the scenery and the sound of my breath.