For anyone who doesn't know me you might be questioning why after the last marathon I'd give up all that I worked so hard to get to. Well its a simple story really and one that's been repeated countless times by countless other runners. I was in the best shape of my life in November, 2012. I was doing long runs of 18,20, and 22 milers in frigid conditions waiting anxiously for the big pay off. Running with a buddy from work, I had even managed to get a PR for my half marathon and on the day of the Phili marathon I was feeling quicker, more trained, and even better tappered then ever before.
The first half of the marathon was just incredible. I went through the old neighborhoods seeing what can only be described as classic Phili. But around the end of the 13 mile mark when the full marathoners kept going and the halfer's happily called it a day something started to feel wrong. Really really wrong. I had to slow down and figure out what was up because with the training I had been doing 13 miles should have been nothing. Consulting my watch after the event I now know the dreadful mistake I made: I went out WAY too fast pushing myself to do sub-10 minute miles for most of the first half. The second part of the marathon is a tale told over and over again by inexperienced runners, yet I somehow foolishly thought of myself as experienced after completing one other marathon almost a year before in Rochester.
My legs refused to run. My mind refused to walk. The result wasn't pretty. For about 3 hours I chugged along at what can best be describe as a shuffle to finish the race (I WILL NEVER DNR!!) but the damage to my soul, body, and pride was done. The pain was excruciating but the results truthfully cut much deeper. My finishing time: 5 hours (!) and 15 minutes. And while many tried to console me into believing that the fact was I finished it, I knew it was a race I could never be happy about. In the end it wasn't fun, and I'm determined to not let it be my final soiree with marathon running.
Honestly though that's not the only reason why I've taken out my old running shoes and blown the dust off them. Recently my father was unable to run his self-proclaimed final marathon of his career after a family emergency. I can only imagine the feeling of training so hard and not even being able to run so without hesitation I knew I had to step it up. For one thing, it gives me a great excuse to get out and keep running with him which is by far the best memories about running I will ever have. For another, I feel its only right to honor my sick family member by making sure I'm in the best health possible as well. And who knows, maybe this time we can even raise money for the marathon in the hopes of giving support in the fight against this awful disease.
Will the next 6 months hurt? Without a doubt but I know if I can stick with it, I can make this one count and replace the total disappointment experienced in Phili with one more epic run. It all started in Buffalo back in 2010 with a half marathon and a deep desire to get those bumpers stickers, and on May 25, 2014 it will end there too. Buffalo Full: Here I come!!
(Top two photos retrieved from Google Images)