Okay, so it has now been a few days since returning from Michigan where I ran the Grand Rapids Marathon, and I have had some time to recover and reflect on the experience. Although this marathon was not as historic as the 2007 Chicago Marathon that I "ran" three weeks ago, this marathon was just as memorable. I only have one complaint--I was not able to run with a high schooler. That was the biggest highlight of the Chicago Marathon. You cannot understand the inspiration you can get from watching a teenager accomplish something as daunting as running 26.2 miles until you have actually experienced it. So here's a shout-out once more to Miguel--YOU ROCK!
So back to Grand Rapids. I set some pretty lofty goals for this marathon thinking that I could burst through as a marathon runner. But I guess my body has limits, and my body definitely told me what they were. As I sit here writing this, my legs are still reminding me what my limits are; perhaps it's because I tried to push those limits two times in the same month. Here was my goal: run as fast as George W. Bush over a marathon distance (3 hours, 44 minutes). At the expo, I picked up my "Dubya's Running Mates" pin-on and a pace band. I looked at the pace band and thought to myself, "Whew! 8.32/mile pace! I did it before...over 8 miles." I have to admit that there was a seed of doubt buried there in the back of my brain. But my wife's continual excitement and encouragement made me deeply bury that seed and try to move past it.
When race morning arrive, I anxiously stood at the start line behind my other "running mates" as we introduced ourselves to one another. Once the "gun" went off, we were off. Wow, I felt good. The pace was nice, the weather was crisp and a bit frosty, the sun was on the rise, and we were making our way along the streets of west Grand Rapids. The previous day my family took a drive along part of the race course, so I knew there would be some hills coming, but I just focused my energy and eyes on the pace group. Each mile our pace was updated by numerous runners with the GPS watches (a bit annoying to tell the truth). Those updates made that seed of doubt rise quicker than I wanted it to. We were off to a pretty brisk pace as we were doing faster than the 8.32/mile pace. But I continued to focus on the beauty around me. As the sun rose, the fog lie over our heads. It was wonderfully beautiful.
By Mile 10, I was starting to lag behind some. I could still see the team and their post, but I just decided to take my own pace. I was blessed by that decision because I was able to enjoy the scenery much more without the constant pace updates. I know I would have benefitted from the supporting banter too, but I wouldn't have seen some of the things I saw. A deer running its own marathon. A stilt walker walking the entire 26.2 in world-record time. Sharing a passionate kiss with my wife. It was blissful...then Mile 15 happened.
Mile 15...11.2 to go...calf twitching! Uh-oh! Ankle hurting! Um?!? Pain rising! I had to resort to a 15 minute run and 1 minute walk for a lot of the remaining miles. This was a blessing in disguise because I think I enjoyed cheering my fellow runners on too. I think if I remaind so concerned with finishing in a certain time, I may not have had the chance to say encouraging words to those who were suffering right along side of me. So, Mr. President, Mr. P. Diddy, and Mr. Will Ferrell...you are all faster marathon runners than me. Congratulations! My finish time: 4:18.59. YEAH! Personal Record! YEAH! End of marathon season! I am sure I'll get antsy in the near future for another one, but until then I am done.