Last year I finished the NYC Marathon in 5:11. I ran a very conservative race. I took pictures, stopped to chat with my friends and family. Finishing was very important to me. As you might have heard 2008 was my 15th NYC Marathon, now I have lifetime guaranteed qualification to run the Marathon. Yea, I had a fun time, but I finished in a new category; I did not get my name printed in the New York Times. Their cut off is 5 hours. (I will get to that other NY Times' thing, the Plodder article next month)
decided not to let that happen this year. I tweaked my training. I did some speed work. I lost 4 pounds (not easy). I ran a focused race, kept each mile in the low 10 minute range for the first 20 and got a rabbit for the last 6 (thank you sooo much, Mark).
I smashed through 5 hours and finished in 4:46. I was very happy. This 46 year old still has it!
Monday afternoon I picked up the New Your Times and figured I would show my kids their dad's name in the paper. I got to the race results and got to the page that ended with finishers at 4:44 and turned the page. It was an ad. The results were over. I did not make it to the list. I could not hold it in. At that moment I walked away from dinner table where my kids were doing their homework, and I began to cry.
They changed their rules. My effort was not enough.
I got a big family hug and my kids wrote my name onto the list. I felt better. A little better. But I was still pissed. My goal was 5 hours and I blasted through it, but I slowed a little in Central Park.
But later that evening I felt much better. I met one of my teammates, a man I have known and run with for over 15 years. He ran across the street and shook my hand. He said” Michael, I checked your time. You did great; you took 25 minutes off of last year’s time, almost a minute per mile faster. You should be proud of yourself.”
He was right and I AM NEVER GOING TO LET THE NEW YORK TIMES DEFINE MY SUCCESS ANYMORE!