Achy muscles, blistered feet and 26 miles later . . . he did it!

Doug Boock
Galva's Dave Morland completed a long-held goal of his on Sunday: he ran a marathon, a 26.2-mile footrace. The accomplishment didn't come easily.

Eighteen miles into a 26.2-mile footrace Sunday, Dave Morland hit “the wall.” The wall - an invisible exhaustion hurdle - didn’t budge.

“Please move!” Morland told his legs, which were barking in pain.

Soon, he was talking to himself more.

“Keep going, keep going, keep going . . .” he repeated silently.

His body - including two blistered feet - listened well. It carried him eight miles more - and Morland completed something very few people do: a marathon run. Seven months of training were rewarded, though he didn’t leap for joy.

“When I crossed the finish line it wasn’t jubilation, just relief. There was no Tiger Woods (celebratory) fist pump. It was all my legs could do to get there,” said Morland, of Galva.

Morland, 44, completed the Quad-City Marathon – the same distance as running non-stop from Galva to Galesburg – in 4 hours, 3 minutes and 38 seconds Sunday. That’s 15 to 20 minutes slower than he’d hoped for. But he still finished 278th of 688 marathoners – the upper 40 percent – and like most first-time marathoners, he was just glad to finish the race, which he did without stopping or walking at any point.

“It’s a dream come true. It’s the ultimate run, a huge running accomplishment,” said Morland, who’d wanted to attempt the feat for several years.

The marathon twisted through the Quad-Cities, mostly along the river. As he circled Arsenal Island with about eight miles remaining, the mental strain matched the physical challenges. But he remained determined.

“There was no option – I was going to finish,” he explained Monday morning, still aching. The 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen he took before the race had long worn off by that time.

Too tired to celebrate, Morland still got to appreciate what he’d done. As he lingered near the finish line for about 20 minutes after his run – something race organizers request so they can observe possible health issues in runners – he watched others finish.

“It was so enjoyable to see the elation on other people’s faces. It was just fascinating. To them, it was probably a dream (come true), too,” he said.

A much-loved physician’s assistant at OSF Galva Clinic, Morland said he received some cards from his patients in the days leading up to his run, wishing him well.

“One also put me on the prayer chain at church. They were going to pray for me at nine o’clock,” said Morland, who began the race at 7:30 a.m. “She was all worried about me.”

On Monday, Morland said he received several calls from patients, wanting to know if he completed the marathon. He was happy to be able to say he did.

But that’s about all the celebrating he’s done. Sunday afternoon was spent  recovering, partly in a two-hour nap.

Morland, who says he’ll now drastically reduce his running and won’t likely run another marathon, said he learned a bit about himself Sunday.

“I think the thing I probably learned about myself is you don’t quit,” he said. “I’ve always had that fight in me. You don’t quit.

“This is the most - what’s the word I want to say? – probably the most mentally or physically taxing (activity), I’ve ever done,” he continued. “School is (taxing), but that’s different. (In marathons) you hit that point where your body is just quitting.

“It’s not normal to run four hours, you know.”