Service and Sacrifice.
The race started under clear, but cool skies. After losing 11lbs during last year's race, I was appreciative of the temperatures and despite dead, heavy legs, I was optimistic about the day ahead. I decided to pop in and run with the 8min pace group (3:29:45 end time) and it was a decision that paid off in large part. Why? For a couple reasons, all of which are best explained by what is a literal transcription from my private pre-race notes and goals in my training log:
MCM: Race #9--Sun. Oct. 25, 2009
1. Run sensibly, finish strong.
2. Run under 3:35 [Note: on dead, ever-sore legs, that'd be a 3min PR from last year and still keep me in the general 8min pace vicinity I've targeted for all 10 of these marathons.]
3. Beat Mayor Fenty
The first two might seem self-explanatory and in large part, they are. The third, however, is a personal point of pride. You see, Fenty passed me during last year's race at mile 25.5 and then again earlier this year at the National Marathon in Washington, DC at mile 24. Each time, he did so with effortless cool, which for any athlete, that's the worst way to get overtaken; with the steely look of effortless precision.
Objective one: Check. Finished strong
Objective two: Check. Ran 3:32:34
Objective three: Check. In a poetic twist fate, I passed the good mayor at mile 24, as his wheels slowly began to fall off.
While it might seem like I'm making light of the race, at this point, that's all I have left. My body is exhausted. I can't find anymore time in the day. My personal relationships have suffered and I'm pretty sure I've developed a twitch or shake in the process. To make jokes is what keeps it light.
The levity of the situation was with me every step of the way. All the way down to mile 25.5. I'd just passed the mayor and in so doing, I wove between the west side of the Pentagon and the steep hill at Arlington National Cemetery, where my father is buried and was overlooking the scene on that day. The weight on my heart could only be displaced by laughing out-loud at the insanity of this year-long undertaking.
As I crossed the finish line, I realized that this was perhaps the most sane I have ever been. Sure, blurry with pain, but no less certain of purpose.
Each step has a reason. Each finish line has a purpose. Each laugh, and tear, and ice-pack is a reminder of what and who I am doing this for.
Nine down. One to go.