Johnny and I did it! The luck of the Irish, my ancestors, was not entirely with us on St. Patrick's Day. Both John and I were striving to qualify for the Boston marathon, but didn't. Twenty-four thousand runners lined up on March 17th, about two-thirds were running a half marathon. The race started a bit later than the previous marathons I have run, it was also a balmy morning in Washington DC.
There were so many people we didn't cross the starting line until about 8:20am, twenty minutes behind the first runners. It was a sea of people. John and I ran together for about 5 minutes and then John took off. I felt good. The viral infection I had been fighting was very apparent in my heavy breathing, from a plugged up nose, but nevertheless, I was feeling pretty good. It was a great first 8 miles, I was running at a 7:45 pace passing people left and right then....my IPOD died. I kept going, the first 13 miles I completed in one hour and thirty five minutes, but then it was down hill from there. I was tired, my knees ached and I was feeling very pessimistic.
I think I finally understood the mental challenge a marathon presents. I kept fighting, fighting my aching body. My legs wanted to stop, but my mind kept telling me to press on. As elderly men would pass me, I would think, "you can't let him pass you," and sheer will power would keep me from walking. The last two miles felt endless, my eyes strained to see the finish, my quads burned and started twitching with each step, and I started to see spots. Then, it was complete insanity that kept me going. I thought, the sooner I get this over, the better, and pressed on finishing the marathon. Crossing the finish line, I thought, "I will never do another marathon!"
Johnny and I grabbed as much food as we could carry including chocolate milk, yogurt, bagels, fruit snacks, and rested beneath a tree. After icing both my knees, resting in the shade, seeing all the runners in green shirts, I realized why I run marathons....it was the running environment and the sense of accomplishment. I may do another one.