Going into Philadelphia for the fifth marathon in a little over a month, I was really hoping to do well and finally reach my big goal for 2009 of going sub 4. I kept coming so close to the 4 hour mark during the past few races, but just couldn’t quite to seem to break through that mental and physical barrier. Each race would become more difficult because my body was wearing down, but the great thing was that my determination was increasing and really making up for that minimal recovery. And sunday, I knew what I had to do, I had to do this.
As soon as the race started, with my legs feeling like they were made of lead, something just clicked in my mind where I shut out all the negative energy and focused on running strong. I just took off, maneuvering through the crowds of runners, weaving in and out of spectators on the sidewalks and streets, basically just running on pure adrenaline. In the back of my mind I was a little worried because I have a tendency to go out to fast early in the race and just try to hold on for dear life, which I know isn’t the best strategy for a marathon, but i knew i had to do it to reach my goal.
After mile 1, my legs were already feeling tired and my feet were already beginning to fail on me (which usually doesn’t happen until mile 18-21), which immediately put me in damage control. I didn’t slow down, but only quickened the pace faster, and quickened the mile splits from 9:30 to 9:15 and then by mile 3 to 9:00. Thankfully my mind shut off all the feelings of soreness that were consuming me, and by mile 6 I was running between 8:30-9:00 mile splits.
By mile 13, I was running on pure emotion, thinking back on all that I have been through over the years and thinking of all the incredible support I’ve received. I kept looking at my watch and repeatedly thought to myself, “Can I actually do this? Will today be the day?”. My body was still cooperating at this point, but I was really worried about what was going to happen around mile 20 and beyond because I would usually run out of steam at that point. But, as soon as I arrived at mile 20, it was amazing because I experienced something that I never experienced in a race before – I felt stronger than ever. With tears in my eyes and fire surging through my heart, I raced through the next few miles and crossed the finish line in 3:52 – dropping 12 minutes from my personal best time (4:04) from the Richmond marathon last weekend.
It was a goal of mine to break four hours this year in the marathon, and on sunday, I can happily say that it was finally accomplished.
After all that I have experienced in my life, I am one of the most grateful and appreciative people in the world – not only to have the ability to live life to the fullest, but to have all this incredible support. Thank You!
Oct. 10 – Baltimore Marathon (4:08)
Oct. 25 – Marine Corps Marathon (4:33)
Nov. 1 – New York City Marathon (4:11)
Nov. 14 – Richmond Marathon (4:04)
Nov. 22 – Philadelphia Marathon (3:52)