Why I Run
What’s my marathon story? It’s the story of an unplanned mid-life rediscovery of a runner’s love of running.
I ran cross country and track in high school. I was a 4:37 miler, which is nowhere good enough for D1 track & field or XC. Combined with significant knee pain, I discontinued running by the time I hit 20. Running 3 miles a few times per week with knee braces wasn’t “running” to me. Over the next twenty years, I stayed active, played basketball (yes, with knee braces), and worked out.
The summer of 2010 as I turned 40, my kids’ local school board was having a 5k fundraiser for the schools. I decided to give it a shot and see if my knees could hold up. A couple months of training and a 20:40 5k later, I was feeling great, my knees were great, and the inner runner in me was back. I joined a running group, became friends with a range of people I would never have met otherwise. I worked up to the half marathon over the course of the next year, and discovered that I love that distance. The majority of the people I run with, though, are marathoners. And they were egging me on.
After a couple years of emphatically stating that I would never run a marathon, I realized that I needed to run a marathon. My kids now laugh at me (“Right, Dad, you’ll never run a marathon” with eyes rolling is a favorite of theirs). I trained for Burlington in May of 2014. Planter fasciitis cut that short. So I decided on Philadelphia in November of 2014. Nope, my pulled hamstring decided that wasn’t a good idea. As a buddy told me around this time, I was discovering that the hardest thing about a marathon was getting to the starting line.
As a buddy told me around this time, I was discovering that the hardest thing about a marathon was getting to the starting line.
I trained through the winter, spring and summer, building a base and speed. I finally ran my first marathon at Wineglass in October 2015. I had a cascading list of goals with that race. Get to the starting line – check. Finish – check. Qualify for Boston – big check. Break the 3-hour mark – uh, lost that over the last 4 miles. Finished in 3:04.02 knowing that 3 hours was there.
No problem, I’ll get it at Burlington, where I returned in May 2016 to run the Vermont Marathon…in record heat. Disaster struck, well, most all of us. I had a nice 20 mile run with a 6.2 mile walk/jog cool down as both legs completely cramped up. 3:30. Nope, that won’t cut it.
That took me to Philadelphia last November. The conditions sucked. My insides weren’t cooperating. Winds were gusting at 40-50 miles per hour. I was deep in the negativity cave as the gun went off. And then the race went, well, perfect. 1:28.49 first half, 1:28:53 second half. Ran pretty much from mile 4 to the finish line with a guy I met on the course, and we pushed, prodded and pulled ourselves through, throwing down 6:45 6:47 miles, one after another. 26.2 miles and 2:57.42 later, I had so much ecstasy for having achieved…what? Well, achieved something that required more dedication and pain then I would have thought I would put up with just for a number. The picture of me at the finish line is that of somebody who couldn’t hold in his sense of excitement and joy of achieving a goal that didn’t come easy, and took years to obtain.
Boston 2018 is next, maybe MCM this fall. I’m running my second Ragnar Relay this fall (completed Napa last fall, going to New Hampshire this year). I’m looking forward to many more fun, challenging, painful times running. But the thrill of running up the hill at the last mile of Philly, knowing that I was going to break 3 hours – FINALLY – well, that feeling is why I run.