A Marathon in Three Parts, Goal Number Two

Everything in threes, but before the third comes the second and after one comes number two.  As a logical extension to my first goal of crossing the start line, my second goal is to cross the finish line.  It sounds like a simple goal, going hand in hand with the motto of “finish what you start.”  However, a lot can happen in 26 miles and 385 yards.

A lot has happen in the last two years and four months.

This is going to get pretty sappy, and my story is a terrible cliche, but it’s my story, and that is what is unique about it.  On 29 April 2011, my son was born.  It was a long, stressful, exhausting, glorious event.  There are few things that I have known that I have wanted in my life.  Getting married and having children have been the two strongest (desires/needs/events… I’m terrible with words).  The kidlet was born, and shortly thereafter he started crawling, then waddling, then running all over the place; and I was exhausted.  Just absolutely worn out all the time.  I had to fix this.

Also, I turned 30 that year – which didn’t help things.

In high school, I ran cross-country and track.  I competed in a pair of 10k local races, finishing with terrible times.  I don’t really know why, but running sounded like a great idea at the time. I signed up for the 2012 Rock and Roll Chicago Half-Marathon, and training began in late 2011.  I started with a Couch-to-5k program (I don’t remember which one, but they are great programs, and the perfect place to start).  Once I got to the point where I could actually run the three miles, I went to the local running store and replaced my 13 year old shoes (leftover from high school).  Winter hit, which kept me inside, but at least I was going to the gym and doing some weight training.  Then came spring and summer, with more training, a terrible case of plantar fasciitis, and a 2:14:38 half-marathon – no where close to the two-hour goal I was aiming for.  I couldn’t walk for a day, I could only hobble for the next two days after that, and was fully a month before everything stopped hurting.  It was a miserable, awful, never-going-to-do-it-again experience.  I’m not sure how many runners quit at that point, but I almost did.

A month later, a friend of mine wanted to do the 2012 Hot Chocolate 15k.  She’s not really a runner, but after complaining all summer about not having a running partner, I wanted to support someone else getting into running.  The race was terrible.  My time was fantastic, but the race itself was awful.  I don’t think I’ll ever do another Hot Chocolate race again, and probably avoid RAM Racing events in general.  Not being injured the next day was a nice feeling, and I actually got back out on the road that week and ran some more.  It felt nice.  I was comfortable at this distance.  I could do six miles or so without much effort, and I knew I could push myself to ten miles.  This was alright.

Then I saw a marathon tattoo.

The wife and I took the dog and kid to the dog beach.  On the way back, we stopped at the Redbox to pick out a movie for the night.  There was a woman in front of us with a tattoo combining the Chicago flag and “26.2” on the back of her ankle.  I was a little jealous of the tattoo, and almost immediately had an idea for how I’d improve it.  A week later, I was still thinking about that tattoo, and how great it would look on my calf.  A week after that, I found myself looking up marathon training programs.  A week after that, a co-worker caught wind of it, and proceeded to pester me for the next three months to sign up for the Chicago Marathon.  On 19 February 2013, I was one of many tens of thousands of people that helped crash the Chicago Marathon registration page.

There I was, with a registration confirmation, a tattoo to earn, a new membership to CARA, and registration to three other races (Lakefront 10 Miler, Soldier Field 10 Miler, RnR Half).  This was going to happen, and I only had 236 days to get ready for it.

In two days, all that time will have passed.  Cross the finish line means I can call myself a marathoner.

It also means I get to go get a tattoo.

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