26.2 – It’s been two weeks now since we’ve seen each other. I’ve had some time to reflect on our relationship and come to a conclusion about us.
Even when you and I are apart, I still think about you. It happens on early morning runs sometimes when I let my mind wander or when someone asks me if I am a runner. As much as I want to say “yes” to such a simple question, I find myself replying that “I am a marathoner” instead. You’ve become a part of who I am and as much as I’d like to say I have you out of my system – I know I am kidding myself. The fact of the matter is you are not going anywhere, and neither am I.
The way I see it we still have some unfinished business. A score to settle if you will. I’m going to be taking the rest of 2010 off from our ongoing battle to tend to some big things on my end, becoming a Dad for the first time. But I just wanted to let you know that you haven’t seen the last of me yet.
Back in 2006 I thought that I was ready for you and all the challenges that you brought with you to Philadelphia. I trained for more than six months and showed up confident, although a bit gimpy from a training injury. You owned me that Sunday. As the miles continued to build my inexperience showed. You toyed with me through the first half of the race, but once I hit the river and approached the mid-way point of the course I knew I didn’t stand a chance.
You made only one mistake that day, and that was you didn’t break me completely when you had the chance. I limped home on an injured IT band in 3:58:08 – just under the 4:00:00 mark.
You left me just enough hope that with hard work and more experience I could give you a fair fight. In November of 2006 our scorecard read:
Marathon 1, Joe 0
I took most of 2007 getting back to full health and trained harder and smarter in 2008. I decided to fight you on neutral ground at Pittsburgh in May of 2009. I was a nobody that day. Bib number 2506, hidden in a pack of thousands of marathoners. You never saw me coming at you that morning and you paid the price.
Quite frankly you didn’t have any answers for me that Sunday in May. Bridges, Hills, Rain, Wind – you tried them all and I kicked your butt to the tune of a 3:17:43 and entry into the greatest marathon of them all, Boston in 2010.
Marathon 1, Joe 1
In April of this year we met again in Hopkinton. You tried to trip me up with a training injury in December, but frankly I had too much at stake to let it bother me. We were running for a cause this time around – and even though we had a return match just 13 days later, I didn’t hold anything back. It was a fair fight and I wanted to see once and for all who was better.
Frankly it was you who surprised me at Boston. I had heard your hills were tough and that you deceived a lot of runners with your downhill start to the race – but experiencing it for the first time was really something. We fought it out over 3:22:43 and as much as I hate to admit it – you got me again. I could make excuses about the late starting time, the 1,600 miles I traveled to our fight or the fact that I “didn’t have it” that morning. But it’s my fault for bringing a knife to a gun-fight and you frankly kept me from achieving my goal of 3:20:00 fair and square. Good for you.
Marathon 2, Joe 1
Which brings us to our return match in Pittsburgh two weeks ago. I know you showed up with a lot of confidence that with only 13 days to prepare you were going to take me down once and for all.
You played the weather card again, dumping a rain storm, heat and humidity on me for more than three hours. But regardless of what you think about my finishing time – I beat you. My goal was simple – to finish that race with a smile on my face and honor my good friend’s battle with cancer. I was the hands down winner on Sunday – just ask anyone who was there to witness it.
Marathon 2, Joe 2
So here we are my “frienemy” – after four battles we’re all even 2-2.
I’m going to give you some time to regroup and think about how much you really want this next shot at me. It may be that we finally meet here in Austin, TX – on my homecourt. Or maybe you’d like to try to take me down once and for all at the scene of your greatest defeat – Pittsburgh.
The next time you see me I’ll have another person rooting for me as my daughter witnesses her very first marathon. I hope you don’t think for a second you stand a chance. So enjoy yourself for the rest of 2010, but don’t get too comfortable. You’re going to look up one day soon and I’m going to be there gunning for you. You better pack a lunch, because it’s going to be a battle.