My preparation for the San Antonio Rock and Roll marathon was lacking but the thought of not completing one “holy grail” running event before the age of 50 was just enough motivation.
The anxiety and intensity of marathon day hyper-tuned my senses. Every scent was on an exponential scale and several perfumes/colognes shamed the Dillard’s equivalent counter.
My sight transitioned from almost 20/20 to near blindness. At the beginning of the race, I was struck by the cling and color of each garment. As the miles progressed, I settled into my physical fight and developed tunnel vision.
Hearing became almost bionic. Any distant dog bark almost had me looking for a car tire instead of a port-o-potty. Each breath, intestinal rumble and shoe landing was as loud and clear as I can ever remember.
As I rounded the corner and the finish line was visible, I was overwhelmed with emotion and recalled the reason of why I was running at all.
During his four cross country years, my oldest son allowed me to join him on a few morning training jogs. Although he knew I couldn’t keep up, he humored me with at least a quarter mile of old man ramblings before he settled into his pace.
One statement he voiced echoed between my ears during my numerous difficult miles. After one of his cross-country outings, we were discussing the brutal conditions of the day and he looked at me and without hesitation said, “it’s going to hurt but I’ve learned to suppress the pain”. I can’t claim I was able to suppress all the pain but at some point, I ran past it.
The event was a welcomed torture and every mile allowed my organs and bones to revolt against my usual clear thinking. Being vulnerable and uncomfortable is not easy but sometimes necessary. When my legs finally gave out, I fueled from the support of other runners and ran with my heart. Sometimes the feeling of fire in my lungs, knives in my legs or vise grips on my toes was overwhelming but the finish was blissful.
These 26.2 miles are dedicated to my boys for every time I’ve pushed them harder, demanded more and asked them not to settle. The line in the sand is not permanent and flexibility is part of life. You are my heroes. Please make your run is easier as the school of hard knocks is a way, albeit overrated.
Although truly not enough, a most deserving Thank you goes to my wife. You listened or pretended to listen just enough to allow my temporary mania to exit my system. I appreciate the support and the post-race peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was delicious. Love you!
Is there another marathon in the my future? Maybe, but in the words of Forrest Gump, “I’m pretty tired… I think I’ll go home”.