It’s that time again.

Since 2010, I have ended each year by running a marathon, and this December is no different as I prepare to take on the San Antonio Rock-n-Roll Marathon on Sunday morning.

It began when my wife was pregnant with our daughter. In order to feel a fraction of the pain and discomfort she was undergoing, I decided to enter my first marathon.

Soon, the grueling preparations began.

It was a rigorous training schedule, and while it did little to compare to the act of carrying a child, it was one of the most difficult things I’ve endured.

Then, I got onto the course.

Approximately halfway through the race, my body began to break down. I experienced horrible cramping in my calves and thighs that brought my pace to a complete standstill on several occasions.

It was one of the most painful things I’ve been through, and the soreness remained for at least two weeks. Nevertheless, I’ve come back every year.

I don’t take part to win or to qualify for more prestigious races. Heck, I’m lucky just to cross the finish line.

The only reason I keep coming back is for the personal satisfaction of improving.

I’ve lowered my time every year except in 2015, when I took a step backward. The slip, however, has propelled me forward.

This year, I have trained like never before. I’ve been dedicated to my plan since January, consistently working toward my goal of posting a personal record this year.

Will it happen? I have no idea. There are simply too many variables during a 26.2-mile run to accurately predict, but I sure hope I can eclipse my previous best time.

In reality, the only reason I run the marathon each year is to provide me 12 months of motivation.

I don’t do a lot to take care of myself. I have poor eating habits, I don’t get enough sleep, and outside of running, I don’t participate in any athletic activities.

For me, it takes a solid year to fully prepare for my marathon, so regardless of how I do, I know I am accomplishing something beneficial for my health if nothing else.

Depending on if I achieve my goal, this could be my final marathon, because while I love running, 26.2 miles is simply too much. It takes far too much time and requires far too much discipline.

But I’ve said that before.

Originally, I intended to complete just one marathon, but now I’m about to participate in my seventh.

Now, I know what to expect, and that is a lot of pain.

Hopefully, neither my mind nor my body give out during the approximately four hours of pounding the pavement.

If it does, I know I’ll be beating myself up for at least a year over it.

But that’s the beauty of something like this — everything you’ve worked for boils down to a flicker in time.

And as hard as it is for me to believe, it’s that time of year again whether I am ready or not.

Contact Clay Whittington at

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