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The Baltimore Marathon got under way at 8:00am on Saturday. A little more than two hours later, the winner crossed the finish line. For the next five hours, runners of all ages, sexes, and skill levels had their moment to shine as they put their stamp on the 2011 running festival and in the process, accomplished what many consider one of the greatest feats in sports. I saw it all…from the couch in my living room.

That’s right folks, no medal for me this year. No celebration for a job well done. No busting through that wall of mental fatigue as I finally see the finish line, cranking up Peter Cetera’s “Glory Of Love”, and sprinting the final hundred yards. What? You mean that’s not your “go-to” song? Umm…anyway, no marathon for me this year.

As the big day approached and throughout the telecast, I felt the sting of disappointment, knowing that I should have been out there with all of those motivated runners. I had mentioned in a recent post that my training had been, what some might call “non-existent”, but that I was going to attempt the race anyway. “It’s all mental,” I told myself. “You’ve done it before, you know what to expect, that’s your advantage.” And while anyone who has run a marathon will testify to that statement, they would likely add that it is also, very much, physical.

You can psyche yourself up as much as you’d like, but at the end of the day, you still have to run 26.2 miles. With about 2 weeks to race day, I finally got off my keester, laced up the shoes, and headed out for a training run. I completed about five miles in under 50 minutes, the pace I was looking for in order to complete the marathon in under five hours. While I was happy with those results, I was disappointed in what I learned during the run. By mile four, my legs felt heavy. My breathing wasn’t as consistent and un-labored as it should have been, and I relied far too heavily on my water bottle. It all added up to the realization that I simply was not ready.

Having not trained all year, I was already making a pretty foolish decision by even thinking of running. But there comes a moment when you cross the line from being foolish, to being unsafe. After that practice run, it occurred to me that I could actually hurt myself if I attempted such a grueling distance, so I made the call to sit it out.

I was disappointment in myself for several days, feeling like there was no excuse for not running the race. “I had all year to prepare for this,” I thought to myself. “I really dropped the ball.” But as I sat at home trying to rationalize my decision, I came to another realization that quickly extinguished my disappointment; life got in the way. People tend to use that excuse to justify why things didn’t get done. Often times, it’s more of a cop-out than an honest answer and I know I’ve been guilty of it from time to time. But as I look around and take stock of what my life has become over the past several years, I think it’s a perfectly acceptable defense.

Go for a run or watch Jake take his first steps?

Go for a run or take Iz and the Jakester to the pool?

Go for a run or fix a leaky faucet? Hmmm…that’s a tough one.

But you get the point. Training for a marathon takes a serious commitment. I know because I’ve done it before. You know what else takes a serious commitment? Keeping up with my two rugrats! I have every intention of pounding the pavement again someday soon and crossing that finish line with Peter belting it out in my ears. But for now, I’m content with simply running after my little ones as we chase each other in the yard.