Archive for February 3, 2011

I remember back in 2005 when I first started running I had this crazy notion that I could run a marathon.

I spoke to a few people who had run one in the past and thought to myself, “you know, I could do that”.

I kept those thoughts to myself for a few weeks and when I decided that I was going to go for it I said it aloud for the first time to my wife.

“I’m going to run a marathon.”

From that moment, that second really, it became real.

It went from a notion, idea or abstract concept to something tangible.  Something that I could visualize, virtually touch and feel.  By putting it out there I was committed.  I was going to become a marathoner.

And I was afraid.

I was afraid of failing.  I was afraid of not being able to handle the pain.  Afraid frankly that I did not have inside of me all that I needed to in order to complete the mission.  Would I quit when things got tough?  Or would I be able to look inside myself to find whatever it was that I needed to keep going?

November 19, 2006 after suffering a training injury to my IT Band just two weeks before the Philadelphia Marathon I found out.  I ran 10 mostly pain-free miles, followed by 16.2 miles in constant, sometimes throbbing knee pain.  I found out a lot about myself that day.  Mostly that it was O.K. to be afraid.  In fact, it was right to be afraid.

I also discovered that I did in fact have something inside of me that allowed me to keep going.  To not quit when perhaps others may have been tempted to.

Five years and 3 months later I find myself in an eerily similar position.

I have been struggling and struggling every day for the last two months trying to decide what to do about my marathon on February 20th.  I am just a few runs shy of completing a very successful training cycle and I am 100% healthy.  I am running better than I ever have before, and quite frankly, better than I thought possible at my age and my experience level.

Runners far more experienced and accomplished than I look at me and see a sub 3 hour marathon as a possibility.  A goal that is within my grasp if I want it badly enough and if I “believe”.

Five years later and with a race 17 days away I have that same feeling.  I am afraid.

It is different this time as I am no longer afraid of not finishing or of having to fight through discomfort and pain.  Fast or slow, it hurts just the same.

I’m not even sure that I am afraid of “failing” so to speak. 

I think what I am afraid of is choosing a goal that I am not quite ready for.

Is this a goal that is just too big of a jump right now for me?  Facts are that:

Less than 1% of all human beings on earth will ever run a marathon.

Less than 5% of those marathoners will ever run a time under 3 hours.

Sometimes when I look in the mirror I still see that runner from 2006.  The one who limped home in 3:58:08 on one good knee at Philadelphia.

Other times when I look in the mirror I see the runner who came through the chute at Pittsburgh in 2009 with a personal best 3:17:43 and a ticket to the Boston Marathon.  Arms raised, stride strong, leg muscles rippling under the strain of a best-ever race.

But I have yet to see a 3 hour marathoner stare back at me from that looking glass.

Others look at me and see it.

I for whatever reason do not.  Not yet.

Winston, Bob, Caleb, Greg, Steve, Brendan, Maddy, Jodi, Sean, Jenny, Nina, Erin and so many others believe in me.  Not to mention Dawn and Little Landry.  What do they all know that I don’t?

Just yesterday however a good friend sent me a message and told me that he truly believes that I have this time in me.  He remembers the IBM Uptown Classic as a “groundbreaker” as he put it.  The day when I stood at the starting line hoping to run a sub 40:00 minute 10K to earn a spot with the elite amateurs at this year’s Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, SC on April 2nd.

The day I ran “my race” and came through the chute with a time of 38:06 experiencing my first real personal victory since Pittsburgh in 2009.  I gained a lot of confidence in myself as a runner that day and I know that Steve is exactly right.

It was a big turning point for me.  I started to believe.

After my exchange with Steve Speirs yesterday I decided once and for all that I was going all in.  I am going to try my best to come through the chute better than 2:59:59.  A sub 3-hour marathon.

If running for Dom last year taught me anything it is that I have to try.  It is a moral imperative. 

I read a post yesterday that I wrote back on August 18th, just three days after Dom passed away.  I read it once every month or so to help remind me what this is all about.  You can find it by clicking HERE.

The final passage states:

“So today and tomorrow I am going to spend more time in the air than I will awake on the ground.  It’s a sad time right now, perhaps the saddest I’ve experienced in my 43 years.  I am going to take these two days to mourn the loss of an amazing person.  I will grieve with family and friends, and pay my last respects to Dom.

When I get back to Austin late tomorrow however it is time to get back to living my life in the way that Dom and Monica would if they had the chance.  Shame on me if I don’t.

Before packing for this trip I registered for my next marathon.  February 20, 2011 in Austin.

I am going to train my ass off for that race and I am going to absolutely crush it.

Shame on me if I don’t”

Exactly right.  Shame on me if I don’t.

If I make it I make it.  If I don’t I don’t.  Those miles will be my miles however and that time will be my time.  I’m still not sure how this whole thing is going to turn out, but it sure as hell is going to be a lot of fun finding out.

Dom, if you’re not too busy up there, I’d sure appreciate the wind at my back over those last 10 kilometers.  This one’s for you buddy.