I’m sitting here in a hotel in Minneapolis about to head home and my knee hurts. Specifically my right knee hurts. Not a piercing pain, but a dull consistent pain. It is reminding me that it is there. It is reminding me that in a few short weeks I am about to attempt the Goofy Challenge (the half marathon and full marathon both in the same weekend during Disney’s marathon weekend). Specifically the “Dopey” because I am running the 5k with my wife prior to attempting the goofy. These reminders from my knee about the future are actually causing me to reminisce about the past.
This time last year I was sitting in a hotel in North Carolina about to head home with a sore left knee. I was a few short weeks from my 1st ever half marathon. Of course it was Disney’s because what other half marathon was a Disney nerd supposed to use as their milestone race. I say it was my milestone race because I was not supposed to run any after that. The half marathon in 2010 was supposed to be the end of a journey. I had been on my own personal weight loss campaign and the 2010 Disney Half Marathon was going to be my way of saying I did it! My way of saying I overcame my hate of running, my love of overeating and I ran a half marathon to prove it. The only race I had run in my life prior to the half in Disney was a 10k, and the only reason why I did that was to convince myself I could actually run. My left knee was sore because I was overtraining and underprepared for my endeavor.
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Winston Churchill may have said that in 1942, but he may as well have been talking to me. Maybe it was running down Main Street USA. Maybe it was passing the crowds where the busses drop off park goers in EPCOT. Maybe it was the inspiration I found musically and spiritually at mile 13 right before the finish. Who knows, but somewhere along that race route I decided I was not done yet. I was a runner and I was going to keep running.
The calendar year 2010 has seen me run a 5k, an 8k, a 10k, 4 half marathons, and yes… a full marathon!!!
My 5k brought me through my college town, running down streets and running past landmarks that only a few years prior had witnessed a fatter Jamison smoking cigarettes before a class or imbibing late into the night.
My 8k was in DC around St Patty’s Day. Running down Pennsylvania Avenue lined by bagpipers, approaching the Capitol and returning along the same route that only 14 months prior the 1st president I had ever voted for rode on his way “home” was inspiring… and humbling.
My 10k was a local run that was part of the Apple Blossom festival. Not the best time, but it was fun running through the local community with the great fan support. I am still thankful for the family that let their little girl spray us with her garden hose.
In addition to the Disney Half Marathon, my other Half Marathons brought me through the Lehigh Valley, Antietam National Battlefield (specifically part of the Freedom’s Run Event) and Hershey PA. Lehigh was pretty and I improved my time from Disney, but I am most proud of Freedom’s Run and Hershey. I ran both of those on the same weekend. It was a weekend of hills, PR’s, black toenails and dehydration… IT WAS AWESOME. To run through that battlefield, to concur those hills, to finish on my college’s football field only to follow that up with an inaugural event through Hershey Park the next day was special. What was even more special? I got to run with fellow Allears Teammates in the process. What was the most special though? I ran with my oldest son in his 1st race, and then later that night the whole family partied in Hershey Park.
As for the marathon? I finished the Marine Corps Marathon. The monuments, the history, the fans, the MARINES… everything about this race is special. Walking up that metro stop pre dawn and getting met by the Pentagon and the Washington Monument all lit up in the distance is almost overwhelming if you let it. Seeing the Iwo Jima Memorial at the end is overwhelming whether you let it or not. I won’t lie, Oprah’s time was better than mine, but I have come to terms with that. I am a marathon finisher just like she is. About mile 18 or so my right knee got a shooting pain in it which forced me to walk much of the last 8 miles. That pain has since dulled but is also leads me to…
Sitting here in a hotel in Minneapolis, just after having run 3.35 miles on a treadmill, about to head home and my knee hurts. I am now equal parts reminiscing and preparing for what may come next…
I do want to add this as a postscript. I did not write this as a way to bloviate or as a mechanism to brag (although I will not apologize for feeling pride in my accomplishments). I wrote this for all the runners out there, or for those debating whether or not they should lace up the running shoes for the 1st time. I wanted to remind all of us that we are on a journey. And this journey sometimes takes us to awesome places and this journey sometimes takes us to an x ray machine. But no matter what obstacles we get faced with need to keep moving forward. There is light at the end of the tunnel (and maybe a medal too)! And you never know… what you thought may have been a finish line may have actually been just another mile marker.