Just showing up

Worst. Marathon. Ever. was how I described my 11th this past Sunday in social media posts. That wasn’t entirely accurate. It was just my time that was the worst ever and slowest would probably have been a more appropriate word. Because my eleventh marathon was also perhaps the prettiest – and maybe the best reminder of who I am.

Driving to Washington Crossing Historic Park for the start about 6 miles from the hotel, the foliage was just breathtaking.  When I arrived, the sun was shining and temps were climbing away from freezing and expected to be a perfect low to mid-forties during the race. I was resigned to knowing that even if my time goal wasn’t achieved, I would still have an enjoyable morning. Good thing too…

Somewhere on the course. Bucks County Marathon. Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. November 2021.

Course conditions were horrific after Saturday’s rain. The course for the Bucks County Marathon is the Delaware Canal Tow Path. Crushed gravel. The first time I ran there was for the Half Marathon (held Saturday of marathon weekend) in 2014. I chose it as goal race because it was flat. My coach warned me that if it rained, it would be messy. It was dry. I PR’d.

This past Saturday afternoon there were heavy rains. Sunday I got off to a nice start. I don’t think the puddles – and mud! – became difficult to navigate until mile 3. I had to stop around mile 12 to dislodge a pebble from my shoe that had been digging into my big toe for close to 2 miles already and slowing me down.

I knew when I reached the turnaround at 13.1 almost 4 minutes behind schedule, that I wasn’t going to make my goal time. I just didn’t feel I had the kick needed to make up the time. And maybe more than that, I was simply feeling lazy. I debated DNF’ing at that point but decided I didn’t come all this way and put in all that work just to quit. 

So, if I couldn’t make it my fastest, then I was going to have fun and make it my slowest! (I had been inspired the weekend before by two of my NJ Harriers teammates, Michele and Bill, who had run New York with a similar mindset. Thank you!) I started taking pictures. I ran/walked the 2nd Half and picked up my finisher’s medal. All good.

Heading south in the final miles. Bucks County Marathon. Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. November 2021.

Then a funny thing happened on my way to my slowest marathon finish ever – I placed 2nd in my Age Group! Okay, so there were only three of us in the Female 55-59 category, but that’s what I’m trying to say here!  By finishing my 11th marathon, I… FINISHED MY 11TH MARATHON!  Just finishing a marathon puts me into an elite group of about 1% of people who can say that.  And I’ve run 11 of them. And I’ve still managed to keep it under 5 hours.  

I’ve said this before: when we spend so much time hanging out with other runners, we come at the sport with a skewed view of our accomplishments. We forget that 99% don’t run marathons and 95% don’t run at all. As we age, we become even more elite within our age groups. Some days, we get an AG award for just showing up. Showing up is pretty important. It’s 80% of life according to Woody Allen.

My 11th Marathon reminded me that I’m someone who shows up. And I’m proud of that.

Finisher’s Medal Moment.

Race Review: Bucks County Marathon is up next.

3 thoughts on “Just showing up

  • November 19, 2021 at 9:59 am

    Thanks Mary for sharing your journey with us. I have a few goals going into every marathon. First, make it to the start line. Any accomplishments after that is icing on the cake. Second goal is, make it to the finish line. And if by chance I happen to get a PR, well then, that’s the cherry on top of that cake.

    And, you’re right. Some times we get so caught up in pace and PR’s that we forget to just enjoy the entire journey.

    • November 19, 2021 at 7:20 pm

      thanks for reading Arturo! Getting to the start and finish healthy is always the best goal!

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