FLASHBACK: Finishing 50sub4

June 27, 2015 Facebook post:

I just received the verification on my 50sub4 marathon finish and as part of the announcement they ask if there’s anybody you want to thank or acknowledge from along the way. I got the email late at night last week during a bout with insomnia and wrote out the following at 3:30 in the morning. Re-reading it now, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

It circulated to the 50sub4 group but I decided the acknowledgements actually apply to a good many more people — I owe a debt of gratitude and thanks to so many, more than I could name or list even given the expansive internet. But if you’ll permit a bit of personal horn-blowing from 50sub4 Finisher # 71, I post the following to acknowledge at least some of those. It’s insufficient but no less heartfelt:

You know that moment in an awards show where somebody wins and they stumble to the podium in a daze and fumble for a crumpled up piece of paper from a pocket; he or she than stammers and yammers trying to stitch together some coherent thought of thanks? I’ve often found such moments incredibly foolish as I thought, “Jeez, why wouldn’t they have something prepared? They knew there was a chance this might happen….” Yet as Jeff asked me what comments or thanks I had after finishing my quest for 50sub4, I find myself at a loss for words. It’s a humbling experience to hit the finish line, like any marathon or moment of truth in this life. There are too many to thank and acknowledge from along the way — the strangers that supported or said a kind word along the route, the family and friends who put up with long hours and weird requests for patience and indulgence. Especially the family and friends. Those that when confronted with statements like, “Say, do you want to go with me to Wisconsin this weekend so I can run a marathon?” may not have always said “Sure, I’ll go with you!” but always, always said, “go have fun, be safe, and try your best.” Funny how the answer was always, “Sure I’ll go with you!” when the question was something like, “Say, do you want to go with me to Hawaii so I can run a marathon?”

Nonetheless, though it’s insufficient and inadequate to say thank you to so many people, it is no less sincere. I do want to single out my Mom and my brother, my family who have always had my back and always will. Meg Sheehan put up with more than her share of gripes and grimaces from me, hairbrained plans and schemes, and more than a few what I dubbed “murder hotels.” You know the ones, the down on their luck, dilapidated ones that sorted out on Kayak.com as offering the cheapest prices for stays in towns because I was convinced they had been home to a murder and needed to keep their prices low to entice travelers to stay there. To be fair, to my knowledge, only one such hotel actually had a murder occur on its premises.

As for this club as a whole, I was first introduced to you all via Brian Wright, a name that keeps popping up when I skim the acknowledgements of finishers. He’s an ambassador at large spreading the news, as is the ubiquitous Hideki Kinoshita who I’ve met at several races along the way. And scores of other 50sub4 folks, our paths criss-crossing this great nation of ours as we see the sights and experience the hills and valleys of this country, 26.2 miles at a time.

The very best thing about marathoning is the way that an individual, personal experience is supported and celebrated in a communal atmosphere. People you know or people you have never met simply want you to do your very best — everyone wants everybody to have their best day each and every race, be it to attain a personal record, achieve a new distance, or just get to the finish line. So to each and every person who has ever toed the line at the start or who has cheered along a runner along the course (or both), my thanks and supreme admiration for all you do.

Jeffrey Hill started this thing and it’s continued to grow and snowball. I had the pleasure of running with him at the Wineglass Marathon in 2014; he is like many runners I’ve met along the way, an inspiration. One of the few previous comments Jeff had logged from me before giving me a last chance to say something (which I’ve now completely mucked up and I swear I hear an orchestra’s music swelling warning me to get off the stage), was “Huzzah and thanks for all you do. It’s been a long, strange trip — and I wouldn’t have it any other way!” I feel like that’s a good way to go out. So to close, I thank him, I thank you, and I thank each and every person near and far. I’ll see you out on the road. For just like every race, soon after crossing the finish line a thought pops into my head, “I should do this again… and soon.”