On October 22, 2017, I completed the 42nd Marine Corps Marathon. This “bucket list” item was almost 40 years in the works.
In 1979, I was a 17-year-old freshman at the College of William and Mary, and several of my Cross-Country teammates decided to run the marathon. Since we often did a 10-mile run in an hour, and occasionally a 15-mile run in 90 minutes, the marathon was a natural extension of our running. Unfortunately, I had emergency surgery to remove two impacted wisdom teeth three days before the run, so I missed the opportunity to run with my teammates, who finished in 2:52, and qualified for the Boston Marathon.
In January, Sheila and I resolved that 2017 would be our “year of health”, and we would focus on better diet, exercise and work/life balance. Thanks to my colleagues at AOG, 2017 was the first year where I could take two full weeks of vacation, and some other side trips, and still have the company run at full capacity. Sheila and I have improved our diet and waistlines, and experienced more joy in life. I purchased several books by Jeff Galloway and downloaded his application on my phone. Galloway is the proponent of the run/walk methodology favored by occasional runners. He has popularized distance running beyond just elite athletes, from “couch to 5k” all the way up to first marathons. His application was especially helpful to me, because my work and travel schedule didn’t lend to preparing for the marathon with a running group. But I always had “Jeff” in my ear, with timely advice and encouragement.
Race day was unusual for late October, with elevated temperatures in the low 70s. I ran the first half of the marathon exactly as planned, in two hours and twenty minutes. Unfortunately, a near collision at the end of mile 13 caused me to tweak my right quadricep. Unable to take full strides, or run for more than 60 seconds at a time, I walked most of the second half, and finished in just over 6 hours. My freshman roommate from William and Mary drove up and he and Sheila met me at several points on the course with encouragement and (thankfully) bio-freeze ointment for my right thigh.
I began running in high school, mostly to play football and basketball at a higher level. However, along the way, I fell in love with running, and this experience has re-awakened that love. In my 30s and 40s, I allowed parenthood and work to crowd out that passion, but I hope this experience will become a lifestyle change, and running will be a part of my life. I look forward to the 2018 marathon, and some other recreational running events along the way. Thanks go to my accountability partner, Burton Kloster, who also ran his first marathon, Dr. Sarah Fletcher for her wonderful care, Dr. Fran O’Connor, who runs the recovery unit at the marathon (and was just inducted into the MCM Hall of Fame), for his superb advice, and most of all my wife Sheila who was a terrific encourager and facilitator all along the way.