10 years ago breaking three hours at the marathon was an impossibility to me. Two years ago it became a possibility. Two weeks ago it was finally a reality.

Two hours and fifty-nine minutes (and thirty-two seconds) was my finishing time at the recent California International Marathon. It was also the outcome of some creative preparation and grit.

Most assume I run a lot. I did — years ago. I don’t now. Three hours a week — by design.

I’m blessed with a wonderful wife, two energetic toddlers, and a fulfilling job. Being engaged and determined is paramount. Running fuels the balance. And it delivers the grit to persevere.

It’s grit that I want to nurture in our budding children.

It was about two years ago when I came within a minute and a half of breaking three hours at my first Boston Marathon. I didn’t plan it. It just happened.

Since then I’ve been consumed with breaking three hours. And doing it the hard way — on three hours a week of running.

I made it even harder on myself with early attempts on some famously hilly courses. I tried at The San Francisco Marathon (twice) and again at the Boston Marathon. I fell short each time. I learned each time. My hunger grew each time.

I then decided that the California International Marathon would be the race. I gave myself no other option. To boot, CIM is a fast course that’s ideal for rhythm runners.

Early on December 3rd I seized moment after moment. Everything worked. The weather, the course, my tactics, my body. And when I inevitably reached a point when I had nothing physically left, I demanded more. Grit surfaced and carried me for the last two miles.