After five years of injuries, setbacks and life interruptions, I was finally able to get to the starting line of a marathon. I had big plans and had some goals that I felt were quite attainable. Unfortunately, the race didn’t go as planned and I ended up struggling through the last 10k and missed even my “safe” goal time. There are a few things I could have done differently and a few things I would adjust for next one. While it’s easier to point to a few things that didn’t break my way during the race I know the bottom line was, I just didn’t get it done.
The days after the race were pretty depressing. I made a drive from the race in Philadelphia to Duck North Carolina to surprise my wife and kids. In hindsight, that trip was a blessing just to get my mind off of the race. I have now had some time to reflect on the race, and I can now officially say, I’m over it.
I think a younger me would have gone out the next day and tried to run a faster marathon just to prove to myself I could do it. Instead, I took some time to think about the journey of getting to the race and just was able to appreciate that I got to do another full marathon.
The race is such a small part of the actual marathon. For months I built up my miles and snuck an extra run in here or there. I made some adjustments in my diet. I did some strides after a few runs. I began doing more pushups. I had a crazy shirtless run of 16 miles with my buddy Steve in cold, pouring rain. All of those little things and runs added up to my fitness level at the race. It didn’t end where I wanted, but I don’t regret a single mile of it.
The perspective we have on our own running has a direct correlation with how long in life you stay a runner. The majority of my college teammates don’t run a step anymore. They hit a point where they know they’ll never run another PR in the 5k so why bother. What a shame. I hope in twenty years I’m still meeting my friends for runs and catching up on life.
I look at someone like Kobe Bryant, and I feel sorry for him. He was the best basketball player in the world, played almost every day of his life from age 8 through 36. Then he got too old to play and now he probably never picks up a ball. I doubt he goes and plays pickup games at his neighborhood park. We as runners can run and compete for as long as we find joy and purpose in our running. I won’t ever run a 5k faster than I did in college and I’m totally ok with that. I can still enjoy the feeling of pushing myself and feeling fast even if it’s just fast to me.
I’m not going to say I don’t wish things went differently in Philadelphia because I very much do. I am however going to use the fitness I acquired and the stretch of healthy running I put together and will make a push for another full next year. The adventure of preparing for the race is one that is too much fun not to embark on again.
Enjoy the holiday season, and I’ll see you around town.