That was my answer to the friends and family members who have been asking how my marathon went last Sunday.
And that is saying something.
To be brief: It was not my best day.
The marathon is the ultimate challenge to runners, and I overcame it – barely. Struggling with the humidity, heat and a tougher-than-it-looks marathon course, I completed the 26.2 miles with a lot of running, plenty of walking and all the heart and determination I could muster. It took me much longer than I had hoped, but I finished the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon in 4 hours, 17 minutes.
I ran well for only about the first 45 minutes. After that, it was a struggle.
You never really know what goes wrong on a bad run. Was it what I ate, a lack of sleep, the weather conditions, the course, or did I just not train hard enough? Maybe it was a combination of some or all of those.
I must say that while I’m disappointed with my time, I am proud of the fact that I finished. I finished with dignity and with a smile on my face.
There were moments when I didn’t think I could finish. At the halfway point – the 13.1-mile mark – I had come to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to be able to finish. My energy level was low, and I was feeling the effects of the heat and humidity. I didn’t think I could do another 13.1 miles.
I began thinking about how I would write this column and explain it to you and all of my supporters.
But I kept going. I’m not sure exactly how or why. I do remember thinking that I couldn’t stop because I was representing Team In Training. I thought about the people who donated to my fundraising effort. And I thought about my teammates and my family.
I just couldn’t quit.
So I kept going. With the support of many in the crowd cheering my name (it was on the front of my shirt) and a couple of wonderful TNT coaches who ran with me for several tough stretches, I kept moving.
I ran some, then walked some, then ran again. Slowly but surely, the miles ticked off – 14, 15, 16 – and I was only 10 miles away. I didn’t care anymore about how fast I was moving. But I didn’t stop moving.
I gave up on any time goals and focused solely on finishing.
At the 16-mile mark, the heat really kicked in, and I began to feel dehydrated. I made an effort to take in a lot of fluids at every station, twice as much as usual. A few more miles –17, 18, 19 – and soon I was at 20 miles. That’s when I knew I could finish.
My spirits raised at that point – knowing that no matter what my time might be, at least I would finish my third marathon. I tried to smile and wave to the supporters as much as I could during the final few miles. I soaked it all in.
And by not pushing myself too hard during the race, I finished the marathon in good health, with no injuries and a lot less soreness than my previous two marathons.
As promised, I had fun. A lot of fun. From the trip down to San Diego, to spending time with my Team In Training teammates, to listening to Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi speak at our pre-race dinner … I had an amazing experience.
Being a member of Team In Training made the entire marathon journey extra special. I got to share the experience with my great teammates and coaches. They inspired me to finish strong.
It was an experience I will never forget.