What about this bib looks out of the ordinary to you? (Hint: top left corner). For those of you that are not deep in the trenches of NCAA basketball, Duke lost in the first round of the tourney to 15 seed Lehigh. My Tar Heels, on the other hand, are going to the sweet sixteen! Albeit with a newly-injured player, but going nonetheless. This has next to nothing to do with my marathon, except that it was Duke Medicine sponsored event, and I simply could not wear the Duke name for my race. Even though Lehigh lost yesterday, I was proud to bear their name instead.

I lead with my bib modifications mainly because the NCAA tournament is such a timely topic right now, but also because there wasn’t too much exciting to say about the marathon. I finished in about 4:29, which is good but not great. My body felt drained the entire race from being sick last week. And the course was extremely monotonous. I’m always glad to support a local race, but it wasn’t worthy of travel.

Nonetheless, no marathon is without its lessons. My brother Matt met me around mile fifteen and proceeded to run eleven strong miles with me. Along the way, he talked about the marathon, and how it forces a person to literally reach their absolute bottom (that is literally, running out of energy at 20 miles), and come back to finish the remainder of the race. I always knew the science behind ‘hitting the wall’ in a marathon, but this elegant description really reminded me of why I run.

Around mile 20, Matt was seemingly effortlessly moving along, but I was struggling. Each hill seemed like a mountain and I came the closest I ever have to vomiting during a race (How I have been fueling and what I will change moving forward is a topic I will discuss in another post). However, by mile 24, things started to turn around. Sure, the end was closer, but I also felt a shot of energy that supported me through the remaining 2.2 miles.

As I crossed the finish line at a disappointing time, I reminded myself where I had come from and how I managed to carry myself across that final 10k nonetheless. At this line, time is a moot point – The point is that I, for the seventh time (and really, ninth time if you count my unofficial marathon and 50k), was able to bring myself from the bottom and across the remaining 6.2 miles. Ladies and gentleman, this is the beauty of the marathon.

In the next few months, I am scheduled to run a 10k with my mom and a 5k mud run, but otherwise I am going to take a step back from my running. With how sick I was last week, how burnt out I have been in general, and the fact that despite all of this I ran a marathon, I think it’s time to focus on swimming, yoga and rest for a while. I have no doubt that I will meet the start and finish line of another marathon in the near future, but I’d like to be sure I take my race selection, training and passion a little more seriously next time. No matter how satisfying a marathon finish is, a marathon PR is the sweetest icing :-)