As I reflected on the latest 26.2 trek, I wondered how it ranked with my other marathon finishes. It certainly didn't feel as hard as Miracle Match, which I maintain to this day is the hardest race I've ever completed (the hills in Cameron Park KILLED me, and it was HOT and I wanted to DNF but I couldn't find anyone to give me a ride so I kept going). And I know it wasn't as hard as Cowtown 2009 which i had in essence blocked out of my consciousness since I really spent most of this year thinking I had only done seven marathons. And I know it wasn't as hideous as Cowtown 2010, the infamous Crying-on-the-Curb Marathon. But how did it rank, really? Inquiring data-crunching nerds want to know.
So I dug through my old logs and verified with online sources and discovered that indeed, Tyler was a pretty decent showing for me. My worst finish times were indeed Cowtown 2010, Oklahoma City, Cowtown 2009 and Miracle Match. But what is surprising is that I remember Miracle Match as the absolute worst that I've ever felt and my time was a sub-six by a good 14 minutes, where Cowtown this year was a pitiful 6:19.
Conversely, I remember Marine Corps as the most amazing experience and I felt great beginning to end on that one (we won't talk about the fact that I nearly passed out waiting for the train back to Rebecca's house...). But my time there was only a few minutes faster than Tyler. I did stop and take an awful lot of pictures along the way (no, really, I took a LOT of pics!! sad that my blog from those days is gone, though, the race report was awesome, too!). Turning the corner at Hain's Point and seeing these massive hands coming out of the ground was an absolutely stunning sight. I remember the waves of people at the bridge, and the absolute wall of sound of their cheering as we beat the cutoff. I got to the finish and saw a Marine yelling at a wheelchair athlete straining to get up the hill to the finish line, telling him that he had come 26.1 miles and he was NOT going to let him stop now, while placing his foot behind the wheel so he wouldn't slide back down. I found Rebecca and Christi chatting at the finish like old pals, Rebecca in her bright pink wig, waiting to take care of me at the end.
And my PR race at White Rock in 2006? I remember that as probably the most miserable I've ever been, and I ran as fast I did in the last six miles because it was raining and cold and I just wanted to be done already. I remember we were in the middle of an upgrade at work, and I spent the last two hours wondering if things were going well and my testers had shown up, and hoping they'd be done before I got there so I wouldn't have to stay at the office too long after the race. I remember hating that stupid lake and realizing that downtown Dallas looks an awful long way away from the Dolly Parton hills. I remember changing my socks in the car when I got to the office and thinking there were fewer things more glorious in the world than dry socks.
So it's striking to me that what makes a marathon memorable is not the time that it takes to travel the 26.2 miles but the experiences and the thoughts that go through your mind during that time. As I said yesterday, the course was fairly sparse when it came to crowd support, so I had a lot of time to think out there. I thought about my training this year, about my family and how awesomely supportive they've been, about my training partners who were cranking out their first marathon in Chicago at the same exact time (fun weird psychic fact: Marci and I finished with 5:37 times -hundreds of miles apart. SPOOKY!), and about all the people in the banner above and how they've touched my life in ways they cannot imagine just by sharing this running thing with me at some point this year. Mostly, I thought about what lies ahead for me, on the streets of New York and beyond. And when I take all that into account, I have to say, this was a pretty good show, regardless of the time on the clock. And I can't wait for the next one.
My marathon times, from fastest to slowest, because I went through the trouble of gathering them in one spot, so I may as well share:
- 2006 Dallas White Rock Marathon - 5:13:57
- 2005 Dallas White Rock Marathon - 5:20:47
- 2004 Dallas White Rock Marathon - 5:29:42
- 2005 Marine Corps Marathon - 5:33
- 2010 Tyler Marathon - 5:37:53
- 2006 Miracle Match Marathon - 5:45:55
- 2009 Cowtown Marathon - 5:57:34
- 2010 Oklahoma City Marathon - 6:06:26
- 2010 Cowtown Marathon - 6:19:26