I know I’ve been gone for nearly three months, but I haven’t given up on Game Under Repair.

I guess you could say fatherhood, coupled with a bit of golf writing burnout, has caused me to go on a hiatus after maintaining the blog regularly for two years. I’ll be back.

In the meantime, feel free to check out my other project–especially if you like reading fiction. Check out 101 Books and let me know what you think of this crazy quest.

See you guys soon.

Fatherhood has interrupted this blog.

My wife and I welcomed our first child into the world last Wednesday, June 16. The 7 pound, 4 ounce little bundle of joy has dramatically changed our lives in less than a week. Even though we had 9 months to prepare, parenthood is one of those things that, I believe, you have to learn on the job.

The classes and books are nice, but when you’ve got a screaming four-day-old child projectile pooping on your shirt while you’re trying to change his diaper at three in the morning…well, books ain’t gonna help much.

Yesterday, my first Father’s Day, I was able to hold the little man and sit back and watch the U.S. Open. No amount of money could buy a better Father’s Day gift than that. Even with the near constant diaper changes, it was one of the best days of my life. I just soaked it all in–pun intended. I think he’s a Mickelson fan already, so he wasn’t crazy about McDowell winning the Open. He peed on me not long after that final putt.

Parenthood is going to bring major changes. My golf game is about to take a serious hit, more than likely. I’m hoping my blog posts won’t slow down, and with all the late nights to come, my guess is that it won’t. But, like I said, the life changes are totally worth it–and meaningless in comparison to the little man. Golf, restaurants–it all can wait.

Like any new father, I envision a future of throwing the baseball, swinging the golf club, playing in the yard. I can’t wait for all of that. But as I sit here and type up this post in my dimly lit office, with the little 7 pounder curled up in the bassinet next to me, all I want to do is just soak this all in. They grow up fast, I’m told. I’m going to enjoy every second while it lasts–even the projectile poop.

Gotta run.

Nathan Green likes soccer...a lot. (Image: Buried Elephant/Flickr)

Nathan Green is a professional golfer. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He did win the Canadian Open last year.

Anyway, as a pro golfer, you would expect Mr. Green to opt for an opportunity to qualify for the U.S. Open over, say, watching the World Cup on the television. No-brainer, right?

Think again. After finishing 41st in last week’s Memorial, Green told Golfweek he was scrapping his plans to qualify for the Open on Monday: “I’m really not that interested in playing it,” Green said. “I’d rather sit home on the couch and watch soccer than beat my head against a brick wall for four days.”

To that quote, one veteran Tour caddie responded: “Let’s face it, [not showing up] proves some of these guys make too much money.”

Isn’t that the truth. Look, I’m all for supporting your country in The World Cup. I come out of soccer-watching hibernation every four years to support the U.S. team.

But, even though Green is an Aussie (and that’s who he’ll be cheering for), I still can’t comprehend passing up the opportunity to qualify for–and possibly play in–The United States Open. Wow.

Hey Nathan, have you ever heard of DVR? Geesh.

I like old men. I’ve known many of them. I hope to be an old man one day.

But there’s something about golf courses, particularly country clubs, that turn old men into grumpy and irritable curmudgeons.  Yeah, I just threw down “curmudgeon” on a golf blog.

The Grumpy Old Man hates you. (Image: MissLPS/Flickr)

Surely you’ve seen The Grumpy Old Man on your local course. He usually travels in packs—a foursome with other grumpy old men—and plays early in the morning.

He uses colored balls and normally has a long towel hanging out of his back pocket. Children speak in hushed whispers when he shuffles past them.

The only time you’ve seen him smile was after he scolded your eight-year-old son for running in the parking lot. If you’re a member of a country club, your least favorite grumpy old man probably has a member number somewhere between 1 and 50.

But if there’s one thing you need to know about The Grumpy Old Man, it’s this: He hates you. He really, really hates you. But don’t feel bad; The Grumpy Old Man hates everyone other than the three grumpy old men in his foursome.

You see, he remembers when only 100 people played his course. He was playing golf on your course when Old Tom Morris was traversing across St. Andrews and goats kept the grass short. To him, you are an outsider who has infected his club with Miller Lites and loud children.

If you dare encroach upon The Grumpy Old Man’s regular foursome, don’t expect to get waved through. He will slow down just to spite you. Sure, he always walks slowly. But if you hit a ball within 50 yards of his group, he will show you how slowly he really can walk. You just watch.

The Grumpy Old Man is also a lousy tipper. Having worked as a cart guy at the course at which I used to play, take it from me. The Grumpy Old man doesn’t tip at all—even if you make his clubs so shiny that he can see his own grizzled reflection in them.

If you complain about The Grumpy Old Man, don’t expect your club pro or general manager to do anything. He hates them, too.

But, after all, he’s member number 7—and in the world of country clubs and golfing establishments, that’s akin to being a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Are you going to tell Alexander Hamilton to take a hike?

So I leave you with this fair warning, fellow golfers: Heed these lessons from The Grumpy Old Man lest you become a grumpy old man yourself.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#15: The Overzealous Rules Enforcer

#14: The Drive-By Honker

#13: The Golf Ball Finder Guy

#12: The Wannabe Golf Instructor

#11: Golf Simulators

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer

In other words, if you were to wake up this morning 30 minutes before your tee time, throw your clothes on, grab your clubs, and arrive at the first tee 5 minutes before tee time, what would you shoot?

Sure, you can’t really predict these things…maybe. But I like to call this your default score. It’s not good; it’s not bad. It’s just what you shoot on a normal day.

My default score is 81. I realized this last Saturday after playing 18 holes with my friends Tom, Lewis, and Chris at Forest Crossing. Other than my driver, my golf game pretty much sucked that day. I was +10 on the 18th green with a 50 foot birdie putt. As I stood over the putt, I thought, I suck. I’m about to shoot an 82. But I canned the ridiculously long putt. I shot an 81. Suddenly, I thought to myself, Okay, things are normal.

Is there really a difference between and 81 and an 82? Not really. Neither is that impressive, unless your looking to win the C flight of your club championship.  But, somehow, that 50 f00t birdie putt, and that round of 81, made everything okay–even though that was my only birdie of the round in miserable 90 degree heat.

So what’s your default score? If you woke up this morning and didn’t care how you played, what would you shoot?

One of the greatest shows in the history of television wrapped things up on Sunday night, culminating—in my opinion—with one of the best finales I’ve ever watched. Lost is over. And, man, that makes me sad.

Hope. Redemption. Forgiveness. All of the main characters on this character-driven show found what they were looking for at the end. Not every question was answered, but that was never the point of Lost in the first place. If you stayed with Lost until the series finale and somehow expected everything to tie up in a pretty bow, then you missed the point.

I was thinking about some of my favorite episodes yesterday, and a cool golf-related episode (“Solitary”) from season 1 came to mind. Most of the group was living in a cave at the time, and Hurley—the show’s primary comic relief—found some old abandoned golf clubs.

Stuck on an island with nothing to do, Hurley builds a makeshift golf course. Hilton Head golf it is not, but the course provides some stress-relief for the castaways.

The video I posted is not from the actual episode, but it’s a pretty funny extra feature—with Jin, Hurley, and Michael. Jin loses his mind after missing a putt. Hilarious stuff.

Is it possible that Jerry Rice is worse at golf than Michael Jordan was at baseball?

In his second Nationwide Tour event, Jerry Rice fired a 92-82 at the BMW Charity Pro-Am. Two weeks ago, Rice shot an 83-76 in his debut Nationwide event. I briefly wrote about that train wreck here.

Yes, those scores are awful. But here’s the kicker, Rice was disqualified in his second event because his caddy used a yardage scope in the fairway. Are you kidding me? The Nationwide Tour should be embarrassed to let this guy use corporate sponsors. Are they that hard up for publicity?

If Rice was competing on some small regional mini tour, then that’s fine. But the Nationwide is a smidgen below the PGA Tour–these golfers are the real deal–so why taint that with some publicity stunt from a guy who couldn’t make a cut if he played in every tournament for five years?


You know Rice doesn’t belong on the Nationwide for the mere fact that he said he was pleased with a second round 76 during his debut tournament. Dude, if you’re happy with a 76 on the Nationwide Tour, you’ve got serious issues.

Thankfully, Rice was quoted in USA Today as saying, ““Because I can’t commit to golf the way I want to, this is probably my last Nationwide Tour event.” Let’s go ahead and eliminate that “probably”, Jerry. Save yourself the embarrassment, and keep the range finder in the bag, please.

This Rice debacle leads me to one question: Who was worse at their second sport…was it Rice at golf or Michael Jordan at baseball?

Talk amongst yourselves.

This pet peeve is about me.

I’ll admit it. I’m an overzealous rules enforcer. Heck, I even wrote a reoccurring column about golf rules on this blog a couple of years ago.

If you carry one of these in your bag, you, too, might be an overzealous rules enforcer.

For whatever reason, golf is a sport where no one bothers to follow—or even understand—the rules. I’ve met people who have been playing golf for 10 years and still don’t know what a red stake signifies.

How is that possible? To me, that’s like saying, “What is that mound of dirt in the middle of a baseball field?” How can you not know that?

Granted, there are a ton of rules in golf—a lot of them are very specific and detailed. But you’ve got to know the basics.

I’m all about fairness, you see. If we’re playing in a game or a tournament and I’m re-teeing after hitting a ball out of bounds, you better know I’m going to make sure you re-tee as well. Don’t try and drop a ball outside the white stakes. That’s not a hazard.

If I’m spotting you 5 shots (or vice versa), you can bet I will make sure you aren’t using your hand wedge in the fairway.

If you’re talking smack about beating me by a shot but dropped your ball 50 yards ahead of where it went into a water hazard, well…I’m going to call you out on that too.

I’ve been called a rules nazi, but I believe there’s a place for it.

Look, if you’re just out having a good time with some friends or family, there’s no money on the line, nothing at stake, not even bragging rights—then I can understand bending the rules a touch.

But remember to put an asterisk by your score, because if you shot an 82 with 2 mulligans, then you really didn’t shoot an 82. Would you say you scored a touchdown if you were tackled at the 5 yard line? Just sayin’. I’ve known groups of guys who go on incredible golf trips, organize these ridiculous 3 day tournaments, and then look the other way while a bunch of goobers cheat through the whole tournament and take home a few thousand bucks. Really?

When I’m playing on a busy course, I’ll usually give my playing partners anything inside 2 feet—just to help with pace of play. I think that’s fair and reasonable. But if there’s anything on the line—including bragging rights—I might not be so giving.

It’s all about the situation. The more serious the situation gets, the more strictly I will enforce the rules.

If that makes me an overzealous rules enforcer, then guilty as charged.

I am golf pet peeve #15.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#14: The Drive-By Honker

#13: The Golf Ball Finder Guy

#12: The Wannabe Golf Instructor

#11: Golf Simulators

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer

I’m going local today.

As some of you may know, I live in Nashville. Life has been crazy here in Music City during the last week.

The Great Flood of 2010 (or The 1,000 Year Flood as it’s also been called) has impacted tens of thousands of people throughout our city. Some of our landmarks like Opryland, The Country Music Hall of Fame, and LP Field have taken pretty bad damage from the flooding. The flood has claimed twenty casualties to this point. No matter where you turn, you see damage. President Obama officially recognized the city as a disaster area, meaning it’s now open for federal funding to help restore peoples’ lives.

My wife and I were fortunate. Flood waters reached our front yard, but stayed out of the house. Neighbors three houses down had water reach a few feet below their second level. One neighbor had to be rescued by boat. A friend who lives in Bellevue rescued 25 people in his boat and carried them to safer ground. Another friend lost the entire inventory of his store.

I helped some friends rip up hardwood floors and sheet rock yesterday, and I was stunned by the amount of damage in one neighborhood. You literally can hardly see houses because of the piles of debris and trash now in front yards and driveways, lined up and down entire streets. It’s indescribable.  No one ever thought this could happen in Nashville.

I could show you photos of our neighborhood, downtown Nashville, Franklin or Bellevue (google Nashville flood photos if you’re interested), but I thought I’d stick to the theme of this blog and show you some photos* from our local golf courses.

Not too many people are focused on golf around here during the past week, but it will give you an idea of the damage. Keep in mind that these courses are spread out all over the city. The flood didn’t just hit one area—it was widespread.

Gaylord Springs sits next to the Opryland Hotel. This is an immaculate, difficult course that has hosted Senior Tour events. This course has been closed until further notice.

Gaylord Springs Clubhouse nearly underwater...the course isn't even visible.

The Golf Club of Tennessee is a private course just west of the city.

Golf Club of Tennessee underwater.

Old Hickory Country Club damaged.

18th tee isn't even visible.

The Legends Course in Franklin is one of the most popular private courses in the area. Awesome track.

Twelfth Hole.

Mccabe Golf Course is a short, fun municipal course that I’ve played many times. I’ve even wrote about it. It’s a 27 hole layout, and 9 of the holes are now closed.

Serious damage at McCabe.

Mccabe will stay open but will now be a par 67 while damage is repaired.

More serious damage at Mccabe.

And those are just a few of the courses affected. Harpeth Hills has been closed. Richland Country Club has serious bunker damage. The list goes on.

If you live in the area, you know the damage we’ve seen here. It’s rough. But I’m amazed by the spirit of everyone in Nashville. Everyone seems to have picked themselves up and decided to move on with life, no matter how difficult the past weekend has been. It’s inspiring, really.

Some of these courses are an important part of Nashville’s business, and just like the city itself, they’ll bounce right back.

*Photos property of respective copyright holders. Used for informational purposes only.

*I apologize in advance for this off-topic post about my first marathon experience. I know I’m breaking a cardinal rule of blogging. But I thought I’d post it here first for any fellow golfers/runners/friends/family who would like to offer feedback.  It’s a long one, so bear with me.

Six More Miles: The Strange Story of My First Marathon

That final step was supposed to be different. Not like this.

As I stepped across the finish line, I unwillingly entered one of the strangest paradoxes of my entire life. This was supposed to be a moment of glory, a lifetime accomplishment, but I had never felt more defeated.

How could this happen? How could I spend 16 weeks training for my first full marathon—running 373 miles and burning 45,000 calories over the course of four months—for it all to end like this: teary-eyed, angry, soaked from head to toe, less than 6 miles short of marathon distance, at the wrong finish line, and franticly looking for a race official to unload my fury upon.

Where did everything go wrong?

A Painful Start

A year earlier, I stood a few hundred yards away from that exact location and watched as a friend completed the final steps of his second marathon under sunny skies and in unbearable heat. That’s when something inside me clicked—I could do this. Forget that I’d never run more than two miles at one time, forget that I’d always hated running, forget that I was horribly out of shape…I could do this next year.

At the time, I laughed at myself for even thinking that I could transform from an out-of-shape-approaching-middle-age-non-runner to a marathon runner in a year’s time. Ridiculous. Nothing more than a pipe dream.

The start line at my first half marathon. October 2009.

My cynical side took over: While you’re at it, Robert, why not become an astronaut? You’ve got be kidding yourself, dude…you can’t run a marathon.

With those negative thoughts in my head, I started running. Well, I started walking with a little running thrown in for good measure. I ran for a minute or two in between labored walks. My first jog was an out-of-breath one-third of a mile trot. It wasn’t pretty.

I wasn’t obese. I wasn’t recovering from some dramatic life-altering surgery. I was just like most Average Joe Americans—out of shape and unmotivated to change.

Change came slowly. My body—mainly, my lower legs—stayed angry with this new lifestyle. I ran three days a week for a couple of months—each run accompanied with a new sensation of pain: tightness, discomfort, cramping.

While fitting me for running shoes, the owner at my local running store was shocked at the amount of tightness in my calves.

“How much have you been running lately,” she asked, probably thinking my leg condition indicated a recent half marathon.

“Well, I ran a mile yesterday,” I answered with a hint of shame in my voice.

After a couple of months of running three days a week, I painfully worked my endurance up to about 2 miles—a minor miracle at the time. During the next few months, my endurance improved drastically. By November, I completed my first and second half marathons—each in just over two hours. (Read about my first half marathon here.)

To me, the next step was obvious. In December, I signed up for my first full marathon without hesitation.

The Marathon

35,000 runners getting started at The Country Music Marathon.

April 24, 2010. The Country Music Marathon in Nashville —my hometown. I marked the date on my calendar. I downloaded a countdown clock for my iPhone. No way, I told myself, would I fail at this. Sixteen weeks to prepare.

On January 4, my regimen of marathon training began—a simple and slow three-mile run in 24 degree temperature. I learned quickly that training for a marathon is an entirely different beast than training for a half marathon. Right off the bat, my long run was eight miles. My Saturday runs included 18, 20, and 22 milers. Running became a part-time job.

As race day approached, I obsessed over the weather. The forecast called for severe thunderstorms. The day before the marathon, race officials announced that—because of the impending severe storms—all full marathon runners who weren’t maintaining a 10:20 pace by mile 11 would be sent to the half marathon finish line. The bad weather was supposed to arrive mid-day, and they wanted everyone off the course.

As if a marathon isn’t enough of a psychological battle, now I was forced to stay on a certain pace which, coincidentally, was the exact pace I needed to finish on my 4:30 goal time. Find the 4:30 pace runner and stay ahead of her, I told myself.

On the morning of April 24, I woke up at 4:45 a.m. with a bounce in my step. Race day had finally come. My wife, Katie, and I drove to the Vanderbilt parking lot, just a few hundred yards away from the starting line on West End Avenue.

Tears welled in my eyes as we sat in the car and talked. She told me how proud she was of me. No longer was I simply talking about and dreaming of running a marathon, I was about to run one.

When I stepped out of the car, I could almost see the humidity. Storms had rolled in during the night, and storms were coming in the afternoon. The air was moist and thick—just another obstacle to overcome, I thought.

Standing in my corral shortly before the race.

We walked slowly to corral 16—right in the middle of the pack. Within 30 minutes, more than 35,000 runners would line up on West End. Katie stood outside the ropes, talking to me and trying to keep my nerves down. My heart rate, which usually rests at 75 bpm, was at 130 bpm—and I hadn’t even started running yet. My adrenaline was in overdrive.

I crossed the start line at 7:02 a.m. without a clue of how the next four hours would unfold. The first clue came within 30 minutes.

The third mile follows a slow, steep hill up Demonbreun Street in downtown Nashville. By the time I reached a water station at the top of the hill, I already knew something with my body wasn’t right.

Each breath I took seemed to bounce off the humid air and float back into my face. I poured water over my head at the second water station—not a good sign.

I moved through Music Row and Belmont without too much difficulty, though my pace was about 20 seconds slower than I had hoped for at that point.

Sometime during mile 8, I grimaced as the four-and-a-half-hour pacer slowly jogged past me. Keep her in sight. Keep her in sight, I thought. But as I watched her move ahead through the crowd of people, I knew I couldn’t keep up anymore.  

My pace was slower than during any of my extended training runs. Whether it was the humidity, the heat, the hills, the people, or just the anxiety of running in my first marathon, something was getting to me. I was struggling badly, and I didn’t know how to recover.

By mile 11, I was already feeling it.

By mile 11, I held a 10:30 pace, about 10 seconds off the predetermined 11.2 mile cutoff time. At this point of the course, the half-marathoners continue on to their finish, less than 2 miles away, and the full marathoners turn left and venture out for 15 more miles.

The marathon route was still open. I turned left and continued on—already winded, fatigued, and wondering if I would live to see mile 26. But I was home free—or so I thought. Though it seemed apparent that I wasn’t going to reach my goal time, at least I was going to finish.

Halfway Home

I started walking for the first time right before the halfway point. How am I this tired already? My calves cramped badly. It seemed as though both of my calf muscles wanted to recede into my legs.

We’ve had enough, they seemed to be telling me as they pulsated with each step and forced me to stop and stretch them out every few hundred yards. My calves had never cramped during training, but the humidity was taking a toll on my body.

The skies darkened as clouds moved in. Around mile 15, we turned right onto a greenway that follows the Cumberland River for a couple of miles. Just before the turn, I noticed a female jogger sitting in a small parking lot and bawling as she held her ankle. Her race was over.

I felt bad for her, but I had to keep moving. A police officer stood a few yards away.

“What’s the weather looking like?” I asked him.

“It’ll be here in about 45 minutes,” he said. “Maybe less.”


The rain started within 30 minutes. I had just passed the mile 17 marker when a lighting bolt struck a few miles away. Sporadic thunder echoed all around us. I began walking again, chatting with a woman who was limping from a right knee injury.

“This is awesome!” she said. “The rain feels great!”

The rain picked up intensity and the wind began to whip across the highway. Every half mile or so, a police officer would announce over a megaphone: “Runners, there is severe weather in the area. We advise you to take shelter. However, you may continue on if you choose to do so.”

No one was taking shelter. Some of us ran. Some of us walked. But we all kept moving.  For the next two miles, I continued walking and lightly jogging to ease some of the cramping in my legs. My upper thighs tightened as the cold rain poured down. My legs hated me.

After a couple of miles of trudging through the storm, the skies lightened and the rain tapered as we moved through the Bicentennial Mall area of the course. Downtown Nashville was once again in sight.

Just more than 7 miles remained. My time goal was out of reach, but I had mentally rebounded and began a steady run again. I found my second wind. I’m going to do this.

A Painful Finish

Just past mile 20, right before I found out my marathon was about to end.

After mile 19.5, marathon runners rejoin half-marathoners for a half-mile stretch. As I trotted past mile 20, I realized something was wrong. Orange cones blocked the road ahead. A couple of cops stood in front of my path. Without thinking, I turned right with the half-marathoners only to see LP Field straight ahead.

Oh no, I thought. They are bringing us in. I turned around and walked back toward one of the police officers.

“Where does the marathon route go?” I asked, fearing what he might say next.

“They shortened the course and diverted you guys to the half marathon finish line. More bad weather is coming.”

“You’re kidding,” I said.

“No,” he responded flatly.

“Could someone have told us this a few miles ago?” I said, stunned that my race was ending so abruptly. He didn’t answer.

I briefly considered running past the blockade. Instead, I swung back around and walked toward my new finish line. My face began to grow warm as tears of anger puddled under my eyelids.

At that point, I understood how someone can lose his mind for a minute and do something stupid–like punch a police officer. Maybe I’ve been angrier at some point in my life, but I don’t remember it.

Someone I didn’t even know, some race director in an office somewhere had pulled the rug out from under from my year-long quest to finish a marathon. Hell hath no fury like a marathon runner diverted.

I tried to hold it together as I turned the corner with some of the last half-marathoners who were finishing their race. I passed two women walking with their hands raised up in the air, celebrating their last few steps together before accomplishing their goal. The clock above the half-marathon finish line showed a time of just over four hours.

I slowed to a brisk walk moments before I crossed the half-marathon finish line—furious with the race organizers for yanking us off the course in the middle of a light rain, pissed at myself for struggling so thoroughly during the last 7 miles, angry at the half-marathoners who were celebrating in my moment of defeat.

During my 53 training runs, I must have envisioned that finish line moment dozens of times. How would I react? I thought. Would I cry? Would I yell? Would I raise my hands in victory? Would I fall down from fatigue? Would I run through the crowd and hug my wife? Would I act calm and collected? Would I stop and pray?

Out of all the scenarios that ran through my head, this scenario was not one of them.

That final step was supposed to be different.

The Last Six

The next morning, I woke up late, still depressed and frustrated from the events of the previous day. I hobbled to my computer and read the coverage of the race in the local newspaper. Race organizers explained that pulling the marathon runners off the course was in the best interest of the safety of the runners, spectators, and volunteers.

The weather predictions that caused this almost unprecedented decision were accurate. Within 45 minutes of the time I crossed the half marathon finish line, severe storms with heavy rain and lightning moved into downtown Nashville.

Just under 800 marathon runners, out of the few thousand who started the race, finished the marathon. Thousands of other runners knew exactly how I felt on Sunday morning. But this was my first marathon attempt, and I wanted it badly.

Race organizers said the shortened marathon course measured 20.4 miles. All I lacked to complete my first marathon was 5.8 miles. 5.8 miles.

Without much thought, I walked down the stairs and into the kitchen.

“Katie,” I said, “I’m going to run 6 miles. I know you think I’m crazy. My legs still hurt from cramping yesterday, but I need closure.”

“You do what you need to do,” she said. “Go for it.”

I thought about hopping in the car and driving downtown to mile 20.4. Instead, I walked out into my driveway and just started running. My pace was painfully slow, just under 11 minutes per mile. My legs ached.

I ran the 6 miles in 1:05:16, meaning the unofficial time for my first marathon was 5:10:35. With a makeshift, made-up final six miles, I completed the race—forty minutes slower and 27 hours after I expected to finish.

But I finished—not in front of an audience lining the streets, not at a finish line in front of LP Field. I finished in my driveway—where this strange journey started less than a year earlier.

Starting Over

I gingerly walked inside the house and back up to my living room. The full marathon medal that a volunteer handed me after crossing the 20.4 mile finish line sat on the floor next to my chair. On the other side of the room, my two half marathon medals from last fall were on display next to my bib numbers.

Have I earned that now? I asked myself as I glanced at the sturdy Country Music Marathon medal I had slung on the floor a day earlier. But I knew the answer before I asked the question.

Sure, I had just run 6 miles for some sense of closure, but I hadn’t accomplished my goal. I picked up the marathon medal and placed it inside my desk drawer.

That medal didn’t belong with the others. I hadn’t earned it. Instead of being a symbol of a major accomplishment, the medal was a reminder of a goal I still fiercely wanted to achieve.

I sat down at my desk, pulled up Google on my computer, and typed “2010 marathon schedule.” I still had work to do.