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I Ran a Marathon, and I Didn’t Hit My Goal. And that’s Okay.

I ran a marathon. It was my first. It may be my last. I didn’t hit my goal time, and that’s okay. I had a goal of running a marathon and I went out and did it. But to me, honestly, it’s always been bigger than that.

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My training plan had me running three times a week, averaging about 30 miles. This plan served me well through the first 22 miles of Thunder Road. Even with the sub-30 degree temps, I was a world-beater. I was crushing it.

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And at Mile 22 it happened. I cramped, and I cramped HARD. After averaging ~9 minute miles through the first 22 miles, things came to a screeching halt. I knew I needed to stop and stretch out my quad and calves. They were locked up like Fort Knox and my body literally felt like it was not moving an inch. I couldn’t drink enough water or eat enough Gu. I knew in my head what pace I had to maintain to finish in less than four hours, and this was going to be a big setback, but I had to stretch and I did.

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The more I stretched, the farther away my goal got. As a distraction while I ran those final seemingly endless miles, I kept finding myself doing calculations in my head. Around Mile 24-25 I knew in my heart that I wasn’t going to make it in under four hours. After focusing on one number for so long it was a tough pill to swallow, and I think my mental status showed in my poor split times the last 2 miles.

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Final time: 4:05:31.

I’ve be asked what I would do different if I were to run again. I have so much respect for marathoners because the amount of focus required to run a marathon really seems super-human. It’s as mental as it is physical. While my three-times-a-week running plan got me to the finish line, I think to be a successful marathoner you need to log more mileage than I was doing. Honestly? I probably wouldn’t do it. I just enjoy doing so many other activities.

Sometimes my life seems like one giant cliché: motivational quotes, axioms, etc.I’m always using them on my patients, friends and posting them on social media. One of my favorites is “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” The most common question people asked to me leading up to the race was “why would you do that?” Yes, 26 miles is quite an intimidating distance, but my answer was always two-part. First, I wanted to see if I could do it, and second, to inspire someone, anyone, to get out of their comfort zone.

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After a week of race reflection, it doesn’t bother me one bit that I didn’t hit my goal time. In fact, I’m hoping that it inspires more people. Go out! Do something hard! And in the end, it’s okay that you failed. At least you didn’t sit on your butt and live with the status quo.

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It doesn’t have to be a marathon. It could be something as little as going for a little jog. Or maybe it’s heading to the gym instead of the bar after work. It could be something as simple as losing a few pounds or maybe watching a little less TV. The whole point of running Thunder Road for me was to inspire people to take ownership in their health. Sometimes you just have to motivate yourself. Go out and light another candle.

Thanks for following me over the past 3 months. It’s been a blast.

~Aaron

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