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.