Under Four on My Fortieth - Monumental Marathon Recap

Under 4 on my 40th!  That was the goal...

The thing about goals (and I mean big ones) is that you never have to worry about failing if you don't set them.  But what if you do?  What if you decide to put it all out there and set a big harry goal?  Would you tell anyone?  Would you keep it a secret?  Or would you take the ultimate leap and let everyone know?

I thought about all these things after my first marathon.  I trained for that marathon with the help of my wife and son, but never really told anyone else what I was doing.  My thought was that if you never tell anyone about a goal, no one will know if you fail...

My second marathon was different, I started this blog and told everyone I ran into about what I was doing.  I set three goals: first was to finish, second was to beat my best time and third was to break four hours.  I achieved the first two goals, but came up short on the last one.  Surprisingly to me, I was able to enjoy my accomplishments and found myself being more than okay with my time.  

All of these thoughts came back to me as I waited in the airport with my wife and son to go to Indianapolis for my fourth marathon (counting my ultra).  Most of my family was going to be at this race to cheer me on and to celebrate my birthday.  My wife and son, three of my sisters and even my great nephew were going to run the 5k the same morning.  I started to get nervous and was almost sick to my stomach as I sat there thinking.  Why in the world had I told everyone that my goal was to run this marathon in under four hours on my fortieth birthday?  Why had I made it so easy for people to see me fail?  

But then a calm came over me as I remembered that I had trained for this goal and I was ready for this race.  My willingness to set these goals and tell people about them is part of what drives me to work so hard everyday.

We arrived in Indianapolis Thursday night, went to the race expo Friday morning and then watched it snow Friday night.  That's right, it snowed the night before the race!  I had already planned out my running clothes for race day (no new shirt this year) and was ready for the cold weather.  The snow was light, but what a crazy thing to happen before a race...  

That night, even with the snow and the cold, my family sat around looking through their race packets and talking about the race to come.  It was so cool to see their excitement (and anxiety) about their own races.  I had almost forgotten about my own anxiety as I looked in awe at my family.

The next morning I got up and ate my pre race breakfast (wheat bread, almond butter and honey) and drank a bottle of Gatorade.  We made our way down to the city and my brother in law dropped me off near the start (the 5k started at 8:20am so everyone else stayed in the van to keep warm).  I walked over to the start and found the 4:00 pace group.  I had met "Betty" the pace leader the day before and felt comfortable that she was going to lead me to my goal.

As I stood there with the group, trying to stay warm, I saw a familiar face in the crowd.  At the beginning of my first marathon, in Myrtle Beach, I met an older guy who was wearing a tank top and a cowboy hat.  He had been more excited about me running my first marathon than him running his ninety-ninth.  I was shocked as I saw this same guy in his tank top and cowboy hat walking in front of me.  I stopped him and he remembered talking to me almost two years ago.  He was now running his one hundred and sixtieth marathon!  How freaking crazy is that?!  Anyway, he was running the same pace so I saw him for most of the race.
The start of the race came fast and only took a few minutes to get to the starting line.  It was still dark as we ran down the city streets.  Lucas Oil Field seemed huge as we ran in front of it (very cool that the cheerleaders were out cheering for the runners).  After two miles I was starting to warm up and tossed my jacket.  I had a sign on the back of my shirt that said it was my 40th birthday and I received birthday wishes the entire race (made me smile every time).

I was drinking water and Gatorade at every stop and stayed close to the pace leader (I was determined to keep this pace for the entire race).  At mile three we started to head out of downtown Indy and the sun seemed to explode in front of me.  I felt great and after mile six I noticed that I was ahead of the pace leader.  I kept Betty in earshot, but maintained my pace.  At mile eight, the half marathon runners turned left and made their way to the end.  Eighteen more miles and I would be done...

The course was a little hilly (for someone from the Low Country) but mostly flat.  Miles eight through thirteen took us through incredible neighborhoods with tree covered streets and huge houses.  There were people cheering us on the entire way.  I did notice that there were some motorist not so happy with having to sit in traffic waiting for us to go by...

At mile thirteen we turned left on Riverview Drive and then down Meridian Street.  This was a beautiful area with a lot of historic homes.  At mile sixteen we passed the Governor's Residence and headed toward Butler University.  The students were out in force and were cracking me up with their cheers.  It was a great area and I was really feeling strong.

I started looking for my family in this area, but was not sure they would make it due to the traffic.  At around mile twenty I saw my niece, brother in law and sisters (my sister joked that she could not believe I didn't stop to talk for awhile)...  My niece even ran out and gave me a Gatorade (huge help).

I made my way down White River Parkway Drive (a wooded and hilly area that ran along the river).  At mile twenty-two I felt a slight cramp in my left calf muscle.  I was still drinking the Gatorade and had taken salt during the race, but I could tell I was close to getting a major cramp.

We turned toward the city at mile twenty-three and both my calves seized up (my left toe was even sticking straight up).  I knew I had to stop and  rub out the cramps.  I refused to freak out so I calmed down and spent a few minutes rubbing my calves.  I lost about four minutes, but I had built up a decent cushion during the race so I still felt good about my chances of breaking four hours.

After my cramps dissipated, I picked up the pace (under 9:00 for the last two miles).  There were several turns at the end and it made it hard to figure out how much was left, but I finally saw the finish line and ran through it.  I looked at my watch and was amazed that I had finished in 3:59:47!!!  I saw my wife waiting for me and I ran to her.  We hugged for what seemed like hours.  This was as much her accomplishment as it was mine...

The rest of my family came up to the finish and started congratulating me and taking pictures.  Then they gave me a trophy, a huge trophy!!!  I was standing there holding it while they took pictures when someone came up to me and said, "I have to ask, how fast did you run?".  It was funny...  My brother in law was holding the trophy later and some one asked him if it was the winner's trophy.  He said, "its our winner's trophy".

I found out later that everyone had a great time doing the 5k and that my wife and son had run it in thirty five minutes!  Amazing...

That night my oldest sister declared to all of us that she wanted to finish a marathon for her 50th birthday in two years.

Nothing like telling everyone about your goals...


  1. congrats on an awesome race and breaking the 4hr barrier

  2. Thanks Chris! One more marathon next week and then I start getting ready for a 50k. Maybe one day I will be running like you :)

  3. Way to go man! I hope Vegas went well!


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