The marathon doesn't care if your dog died or if it's your birthday. It doesn't care if you think you should be a X:XX marathoner. It doesn't care if you trained for five months only to find yourself injured or sick. It doesn't care if the weather is 20 degrees above normal. It doesn't care about your hopes or aspirations. It doesn't care if you've sacrificed beer and burgers and fries for a few less pounds.
The marathon doesn't care about the dark days - days of changing into your running clothes after work only to decide after a few painful strides that running today would make things worse rather than better; days when you give up because the heat of the summer makes your planned workout impossible; days when you know after only a few miles of a race that today will not be your day.
The marathon doesn't care except for the hundreds of thousands of people supporting you along the way; except for the well wishes from friends and family; except for the deep bonds made with the few members of your tribe who truly understand. The people who understand dodging cars, listening to unoriginal comments from adolescents, waking up way too early to beat the heat for a two hour run witnessed by nobody except for the trail and your watch.
There are no miracles in marathons unless you count the blind and lame running free. There are no miracles in marathons except for a society increasingly marked by obesity, sloth, and selfishness celebrating tens of thousands of people committing to pushing themselves to their physical limits and helping others along the way.
The marathon might not hand out miracles like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny but marathons provide an opportunity for the everyday miracles that we take for granted to be observed and recognized.
That's why even though I had a rough day yesterday, I know I'll eventually be back for more. Eventually I'll look at a calendar and plan six months of training. But for now I drink a few strong ales and rest. For now, it's over.