Total Pageviews

Follow by Email

Monday, May 2, 2011

An Hour Late, But Right On Time: Considering My First Marathon Experience

Yesterday, I finished my first marathon. 26.2 whole miles traversed in one attempt in nothing but a pair of shoes (well, and a few other choice pieces of clothing of course). I could go on and on about the rigors of the training or the hours spent doing something other than what I ‘wanted to be doing,’ but I want to focus on one aspect of my experience that was so impactful for me.

A modest estimate of how late I finished after my ‘time-goal’ is about 1 hour. If you had asked me at mile 13 how I felt about this, I’d probably have given you a terse censorable response about how pissed I was that I wasn’t performing at the level ‘I felt I was capable.’ What happened over the course of the next 2 miles, and then thankfully carried over for the rest of the race, was something very special for me indeed.

I got over myself.

I somehow was humbled by 13 or so miles of self-induced pain and realized that I needed an attitude adjustment – or I don’t think I would have made it the next 13.

I realized that just finishing in a reasonable time would be just as fulfilling because the only person who was really concerned about such issues was me. I thought to myself, “Come on Joe, this is your first marathon, RELAX! There will be many opportunities to get a better ‘finish time.”

This realization allowed me to focus on so much more, on the truly incredible things that were going on around me. I realized that there are many more people than I can count who would do many (if not anything) to be able to even compete in such an event. I also realized that just participating afforded me a profound lens into human nature that one doesn’t normally get to use - that thousands of people around me were all willing to work toward a difficult goal and really push themselves - going beyond a reasonable concept of effort to reach said goal. And then thirdly, the amazing nature of support that so many volunteers exhibited, who could have otherwise enjoyed a very pleasant Sunday – but instead came out to perform such undeniably important yet small things to assist strangers/runners/athletes accomplish ‘something.’

In retrospect, if I had been too focused on 'keeping my pace' to finish on time, I am sure I would have missed all of these things. Recognizing these and more allowed me to enjoy the rest of the race more than I thought possible – all except about the last 1.5 miles when I was really hurting – and do so with a smile on my face at the wonder all around.

I could go on and on about how this experience transcends the actual nature of the race itself… but I’m sure you can do that just as well as I can.

On Friday, I quoted Emil Zatopek – a famous Czech runner – on my facebook page who said:

- … If you want to experience something, run a marathon.”

At that time I skeptically hoped he was right. One day later, I am happy to say that he was right on.

As always, thanks for reading :) A.M.D.G.


  1. Joe, your words in this post are so relatable on many fronts within my own thought processes and soul. We are indeed our hardest critics /slash/ judges.

    Those folks who came up with the favorite one-liners like, "You can't see the forest for the trees" or "It's the marathon, not the sprint, that counts" etc. -- were no doubt talking about life's journey (around us -- and within us).

    Congratulations on your discipline to train, to hang in there, and to accomplish this important goal.

  2. Congrats Joe! Thanks for your reflection. Hope you are recovering quickly!