A bad decision lead to a good decision at mile 22, I had to think like a coach and do what I would want an athlete I was coaching to do. The weather was perfect at the start 54 degrees overcast with a slight breeze. My plan was 8 minute mile pace until the last six and the then race to the finish, I stuck to the plan perfectly through the first half. I made a quick pit stop at the 2 mile mark just after circling back to the start line and caught up to Kim who was running the half. We talked and made the miles go by quickly to where she turned off for the turn around that was mile eight and I was feeling good. The temperature was rising quickly and the breeze was keeping it comfortable at this point. I hit Cedarville and turned of the bike path and onto the back roads and into the wind as we turned around. I was feeling the fatigue by this point and had walked hills and water stops and decided to walk when there was a stiff head wind. Ben and Andy were running 4 hour pace and I expected them to catch me and they did shortly on the bike trail headed back to Cedarville. I stuck with them until mile 18 when my legs started to get heavy and I fell back the next 2 miles dehydration started to set in even though I had taken water and Gatorade at every water stop. I was walking more than I was running I had several runners check on me as they went by, I love that fellowship of distance runners. I hit mile 21 where the course turns off for the leg where the half marathon turns around and saw the squads at the aid station, was tempted to stop as I took 2 cups of water and it didn't help. I did the half mile out and back and decided with the blister on my left foot and sure signs of heat exhaustion I headed to the squad this time. I hated quitting on a race but common sense beat stubborness, this was not Boston I had to be smart.
I made the tough decision for myself just like I would for someone I was coaching, that was a long ride to the finish line in the rescue truck. The emotions of disappointment were high especially as I threw my timing chip in the bucket without crossing the finish line. The conditions of 74 degrees, a strong head wind and lack of preparation made this the day not to finish a race. The emotional low was quickly replaced by the excitement of one of our group finishing her first marathon. Cheering her in knowing the tough conditions out reminded me there is more to this sport than just running. This is very much a team sport because her tears of joy were much more important than my tears of disappointment. I will have my great races but it is great to be part of a group of runners where we can relish in others first and great races.