Being done with college and in the working world full-time truly allowed me to begin focusing my training solely to marathon training in 2009. Being completely healthy made that more doable as well. I lived on my own from 2008-2010, so my days were pretty simple...get up and go to school to teach, coach, workout and go to bed so I can do it all over again.
By the spring of 2009, this was quite literally how I lived during the work week. It was great but it got to be a bit boring all on my own. When I decided to run the Fargo Marathon that May, I wanted to be able to share it with people I cared a lot about. It would give what I was doing meaning and significance. I was able to get my dad to join me on the trip as well as my girlfriend, Jen (now my wife!), and her mom even decided to run a marathon again (first time in about 20 years for her).
Knowing all these people were going to be a part of this kept me motivated to train throughout the winter, so I could have a great race. My training was more focused and I was learning what my body responded well to and what didn't necessarily work as well for me. My most memorable training run came in February. The school closed early that day because of an impending snowstorm, so we all got home before the snow started to fall hard. I decided I had to get my workout in, so I stepped outside after I got home and went out on the Dakota Trail (a paved trail from Wayzata to St. Bonifacius). I ran to St. Bonifacius from my apartment in Mound and back, which was about 12 miles round trip. Within about 4 miles the snow was falling pretty heavily and I couldn't look up easily because the flakes would hit me in the eyes. I remember when I got back looking in the mirror and seeing the icicles off my eyelashes like I had never seen them before. Admittedly, it was one of those moments as a runner where you look at yourself and say, "Yeah, I'm a beast and I'm pretty tough!"
The marathon itself went fairly well. I ran what was my second fastest time of 3:01:40 and I finished 31st out of over 1,500 runners. I was 14th at the halfway point and then had a hamstring issue flare up which slowed me considerably on the final 10 miles. What I'll remember about this race are some of the conversations I had with my dad and Jen at their spectating spots. It was a 2 loop course so they got to see me many times. The pictures in this post say it all. I went out a little quick in the first few miles and let them know with a signal with my hand and a slight grimace on my face. I also had some energy gel issues later in the race as evidenced by a sticky jersey and a sticky BIB number (still sticky to this day 4 years later!).
Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Living on my own doing what God gifted me to do (teach, coach and impact students in a positive way) and being able to use my passion and joy of running to worship God was almost more than I could have asked for at that point in my life. It wouldn't be long before God blessed me beyond measure even more...