As soon as I crossed the finish line, I was ready for another marathon. It wasn’t because I just had the best marathon in my life or I just qualified for Boston. Quite contrarily, I just limped four very painful miles to the finish, failed to break four hours, one of the two goals of this marathon. The other goal? Crushed as well. I wanted to remain injury free.
From the very start, I followed the 4:00 pace group faithfully until the pacer had to take a bathroom break. So I continued on my own, checking my garmin from time to time to make sure I stick to a pace between 8:45 and 9:00 min./mile. Discomfort started kicking in at about mile 13, but it soon built up to pain. I knew I was in trouble but I couldn’t tell much beyond that. Somewhere between mile 16-18, I realized my running form changed due to tensed muscles from pain. One step at a time; one foot before the other. That brought me to mile 19. And Mile 20. Earlier during the run, a gentleman wisely said, “Mile 20 is half the race.” No kidding.
“6.2 miles to go - same distance as the way back on Sunday Runs (from McMullen Greenway).” I kept telling myself.
As told by others, the whole route except for the first 4 miles was rather ugly. Frankly, I wouldn’t even notice if it wasn’t. My head was down for most of the race, minding my own business and managing my pain. A volunteer had to should at me once because I kept going straight on a turn. At the rare occasion when I looked up to turn onto another barren, concrete road with no end in sight at mile 22, my positive thoughts gave way to the pain. I stopped and started walking. It was a split second decision which I kept playing and playing through my mind now. The pain was too much; or was it? As soon as I stop running, the reality of not being able to pick up and run again sinked in.
“So much about breaking 4,” that was my first thought.
Stopping from running didn’t stop the pain; rather it made me realized how tremendous that pain was. My heart was racing and I was sweating from the pain. I rolled my sleeves down when I stopped generating heat from running but I could still feel my back was sweating from pain. After walking for a mile or so, I even questioned if I could walk to the finish. Needless to say, the longest 4 miles of my life.
This is my first running defeat. As I was walking, the times which I prevailed during difficult runs and how God had brought me through each of those kept going through my mind. No doubt that I would be much more excited if I were writing on how I broke 4 hours in my 2nd marathon. But this was an important lesson for me. Despite the pain, I was very peaceful knowing that God was with me nonetheless. I need to give Him all the glory. The defeat also teaches me how much I love running. It is by far the purest form of exercise in my opinion. When I run, I have the sense of coming before God with nothing else attached. Running teaches me a form of joy that comes from within. There is simply nothing which I could add or do to add to the joy from running, from doing something which we are designed and created to do. And of course, the sense of achievement keeps me pushing the self-imposed limits and desiring to do more. Even being defeated was a lot of fun.
For now, I could only hope that it will heel quick, quickly, and quicker.