Reflections on the 2014 Pittsburgh Marathon

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Yesterday, I ran my sixth marathon! It was another incredible experience. This one was extremely special to me because my wife ran it as well! This was her first marathon! I am so proud of her. We have spent the last 20 weeks training together for this moment. We trained in rain, snow, and freezing temperatures. It was insane. However, as with most marathons, when you cross the finish line, looking back, it was all worth it.

In this post, I’ll share some reflections and lessons learned from the Marathon as well as running for Light of Life Rescue Mission!

Our Results and Race: 

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One thing is evident, my wife smoked me! When we got home, Laura realized that she missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon by 2 seconds! She wasn’t even trying to. We both trained together and planned on finishing the marathon together, however, at mile 14 or 15, it was very evident that Laura was ready to own this race. I told her to go for it and she did. She crushed it!

As for me, this was my best marathon yet! I shaved 6 minutes off my time from last year. It felt great. We both went in with a goal to finish under 3:45:00. We did! How did we do it?

1.) We Trained Faster – One thing that was different for this marathon for me was that I trained with someone much faster than me, my wife! Usually I train by myself or with others who are at the same pace I am at. Laura really pushed me in our mid-week runs. In past marathon trainings, I would average between an 8:15 – 8:45 per mile. With Laura, by the end, we were averaging 7:30 – 7:45 minute miles. I think that made a significant difference in our times.

2.) We followed the Pacer – I learned this lesson in my 4th marathon! Pacers are awesome! We ran with the 3:40 pace group (a little ahead of our goal) for half of the marathon (until we had to go to the bathroom) then we lost them. However, they taught us how to pace ourselves well to hit our goal. A side note on this one, when Laura and I split, Laura ended up passing our original pace group! She’s a baller!

3.) We Didn’t Ask Our Bodies How they Felt – Miles 17-26.2 are never fun. Your body hurts the whole time. It all comes down to mental discipline (and Advil at mile 17). One thing that helps us is knowing in our heads that in a few hours, we’ll be laying on the couch relaxing. Knowing that enabled us to suck it up and finish strong. We both did. Neither of us stopped and walked.

4.) We Followed our Training Plan – It’s easy to take this for granted, but we followed our plan! We used Hal Hidon’s plan. I had a man on our team that has run 44 marathons tell me that he has never followed Hal’s plans and not hit his goal. We didn’t follow the plan perfectly, but it was the roadmap we needed to hit our goal.

5.) Cross Training – I can’t prove this helps us reach our goal, but I am 99% sure it did! We did P90X3 on days we did not run. I think the core strength we built from that program helped us become faster.

6.) We Were Together – People are teasing me that Laura beat me in the marathon. Nothing thrills me more! The best part of crossing the finish line for me was knowing that Laura already did! I’ve spent the last 20 weeks training with her. I remember a few runs in the snow when she wanted to quit and didn’t think she’d ever finish the marathon. Seeing her take this journey has been one of the highlights of my life. Seeing her at the finish line was priceless. It really is all about the journey. There is no one else in the world who I would have rather journeyed with! She inspired and motivated me!

Running for Light of Life Rescue Mission

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The second part of this marathon journey was raising money for a great cause! The Pittsburgh Marathon allows runners to run for charities for free. Well, the charity pays for the runner and the runner commits to raising a certain amount of money for the charity. All of the charities are local charities, which is really cool. As of this moment, the Pittsburgh Marathon raised $1,180,348 for local charities. That is awesome!

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I work at Light of Life and helped lead our team this year. This was the first year Light of Life was an official charity of the Marathon. Last year, we were a contributing charity, which was essentially a tryout to see if we could be an official charity.

Last year, we had 34 runners and raised over $25,000. This year, we had 76 runners and as of this moment, raised $76,258 for Light of Life! Our original goal was to raise $50,000! We hit that and set $75,000 as a stretch goal for our team! We hit that this morning! Literally! As I was writing this, we surpassed our goal! It’s incredible! I am sooooo proud of our team, not only for training hard and competing their races, but for running for a reason. All of the proceeds will go directly to helping the homeless men, women, and children of Pittsburgh. Overall, we were 6th overall in fundraising out of all of the charities in the Pittsburgh Marathon! I’m excited to what our team will do next year!

Lessons Learned: 

You Can Do Anything – In 2007, I never thought I’d run a marathon. I’ve now run 6. I never thought I could raise money for a great cause, but generous donors donated over $14,000 to support me and Light of Life. My wife never thought she could run over 10 miles, she owned 26.2. If you want to do something, go after it!

People Are Generous – I’m blown away that our team raised over $76,000! Over 800 people donated to our team to make a difference in the lives of the homeless men, women, and children of Pittsburgh. So cool! Over $1,000,000 was raised for charities in Pittsburgh. There is some incredible work being done by all of these organizations, I am glad that they are able to benefit from the marathon.

We all need each other – Everyone played a significant role in the marathon yesterday. The runners, the volunteers, the spectators, the people who organized the marathon, and the media! Everyone had a part in making this experience great for everyone else. Laura was telling me that she was so blessed that so many people who don’t even know us were cheering us on during our run. If you cheered for people yesterday, you made a huge difference! Thank you!

It’s all about the Journey – This is the main lesson of every marathon. It’s the journey that made crossing the finish line so incredible. All of the early morning runs, the long weekend runs, the nutrition, everything. Life really is a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy it.

If you’re reading this and you supported us in any way, whether encouraging us, donating to Light of Life, or coming to cheer us on, thank you. We appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. You matter and we are glad you are a part of our lives!

Thoughts? If you ran, what lessons did you learn? 

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2 Responses

  1. Congrats to both of you on many levels! Hal Higdon’s training program only works if you work really hard and stay with the program even when your motivation is lacking. Those tough winter runs made all the difference. Mental toughness is part of the whole package. Leading the Team to a record number of runners, and record total donations is a much more important accomplishment. Only God knows how many lives that will affect. To paraphrase II Timothy 4:7..”You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith.”

    1. Bob! Thank you so much for the comment! Unfortunately, our motivation lacked a few days when it was 0 degrees out! We missed a few runs, but overall, we loved the program. I will definitely use his program again in the future. Thanks for the advice. I am proud of Team Light of Life! Thanks for being a part! I’m honored to have you on our team and honored to know you!

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