After learning the NYC Marathon was canceled, I took a few days off to "mourn" the loss, drink a few beers and enjoy the release of such a huge commitment. However, I quickly became anxious about "wasting" the precious time spent preparing and training. It was hard for me to think about running a marathon that was not NYC, but my four year old daughter Callie gave me the inspiration I needed.
Callie was looking at a picture of me and my brother in our NYC marathon shirts and she said to my wife, "i'm so sad because I didn't get to see daddy run the race." As soon as I heard this, I was freakin' fired up! My wife reinforced her support for me to finish this commitment, and so I decided to run the Harrisburg, PA Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 11th, 2012.
It was a beautiful, sunny morning in Harrisburg with temperatures starting in the mid-40's and rising to the mid-60's. Just over 1500 runners lined up and took off at the 8:30 am start.
I felt great for the first half of the race and with the 3:35 pacer which was much faster than I had anticipated. Over 90% of the course was flat and "fast", but I hit a hurdle around mile 18 when there were a few steep hills as the course went around Wildwood Lake Park. My pace slowed and my quads burned like crazy as I navigated the hilly terrain.
When my body finally recovered from the shock of the hills, my left quad began cramping with no mercy around mile 22. I began questioning myself and thought I might need to walk, but gained inspiration as I read some signs of supporters cheering us on:
"Pain is temporary, pride is forever"
"RUN LIKE HELL"
"My daddy runs faster than your daddy"
"Embrace the suck"
"You get stronger when you go longer"
"You trained longer than Kim Kardashian's marriage" - this wasn't really inspiring, but I thought it was funny.
So, with all the encouragement from supporters and thinking of my precious daughter's face, I had to keep running.
After some gatorade, GU and mental toughness, the discomfort and cramping subsided. The serene view of the Susquehanna River was magnificent and made for nice company as I made surged to the finish.
So how did I do? My time was 3:40:23.37, average pace of 8:24 per mile. I was 417th out of 1514 finishers and 64th out of 138 in my age group.
I was extremely pleased with my result as this was a PR for me by more than 15 minutes, yet a part of me wishes I could've broken into the 3:30's.....there's always something to shoot for.
There weren't exactly 40K runners with miles of screaming fans, but it was definitely a meaningful race I'll always remember.
Many thanks to my wonderful wife for encouragement, my father-in-law for coming to cheer me on and to my beautiful daughter who inspired me!!