The Day After Ten Years After

“The past is never where you think you left it.” – Catherine Ann PorterSketch - Running Man

Perspective is a beautiful thing. Ten years ago I ran the Steamtown Marathon with my eye on the clock, calculating splits, rationing gels, taking every conceivable measure to qualify for Boston. I cramped up the final miles, and ran to the finish stressed I wouldn’t make the cut.

There was a time I wouldn’t register for a marathon if I didn’t think I’d finish in less than four hours. Some years I’d over-train and line up injured before the starting gun even sounded. I’m not saying that the competitive gene has vanished from my system completely, but it bites me less often and running has become a lot more fun.

My goal for Steamtown this year was to not finish last. Along with more than twenty-five hundred of my running brethren, I savored every step in the sparkling sunshine, trees turning to Autumn that made the forest look ablaze. My strategy was to not look at a clock until I got to the finish line. I didn’t consider all of the banks and city hall towers I’d pass in small towns along the route. I inadvertently caught the time on a few occasions, but refrained from doing the calculations in my head to estimate my finishing time.

As I ran down the final stretch on Washington Avenue there was one runner in front of me the entire way. The last hundred feet or so he appeared to be fighting leg cramps and I held back so I wouldn’t pass him. He must have caught me out of the corner of his eye because he gestured for me to pass him. I lightly placed my hand on his back and said, “You go, I’m in no hurry.” He reached out, we grasped hands and crossed the finish line together at 4:25, my happiest four-plus hour marathon ever.Runners - Sketch


About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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6 Responses to The Day After Ten Years After

  1. That’s the true spirit of the marathon. Respect to you Jim.


  2. LB says:

    Jim. this post is one of my favorites of yours. I was already loving your goal to not finish last, and that you avoided looking at the time and attempts to calculate your time. But then you put your hand out … and I smiled.
    You are awesome!


  3. WalkToRio says:

    That’s a really nice way to finish a race.
    My best races ever, have been those when I don’t wear my stop watch and have no one yelling my splits. But then, that’s really hard to happen at official races, you have someone always yelling your splits, telling you how many seconds away the person ahead and behind you is, and you have you have the huge timer at the finish line lol
    Have a nice week!


    • Jim Brennan says:

      It was a memorable finish for sure. Last year was the first time I tried not to watch the clock, but it was much easier because it was a trail marathon with only a clock at the start, midway, and finish. I learned one thing this year–how many clocks don’t work on town halls and businesses.
      Enjoy your week too.


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