This is the last of a series of guest posts I have been doing over at Marathon Training Academy, where I blogged about preparing for my first marathon using their system. I went ahead and included the entire post here, because I am so excited about finishing the race.
On November 5, 2011, I embarked into the unknown territory of running a marathon for the first time. During that time I found why they call this ‘endurance’ running. It wasn’t the prettiest race, and with a time of 4:54, I did not break any records. But but I did somehow pull myself through those last few miles, and now I can join the ranks of that small segment of the population that calls themselves a marathon runner.
There were 15,000 half-marathoners and about 5,000 full-marathoners there in downtown Savannah. There was a ton of excitement and anxiousness in the cool air. The route went through a variety of areas, and the locals really embraced the marathon. The bands made the race entertaining, but the encouragement of the locals and volunteers made the tough miles a little easier to swallow.
It’s All About the Tangent
With my friend and I both being engineers, I guess we couldn’t help ourselves from obsessing over running close to the inside edges of turns as we could. I heard somewhere that the 26.2 miles is measured on the tangent. It became a running joke during the race. Come to find out we ended up running about 26.4 miles, anyway. Either the detours to the porta-johns added up, or maybe we didn’t hit the tangents so good after all.
One of the hardest things about the race was that it was quite cool and windy, which was much different than the hot training conditions I am used to here. I really think the temperature made me tighten up more than usual. In addition, the last leg of the race was on the parkway, and the wind seemed overwhelming after running over 20 miles already. I thought I would never get off of that parkway.
On about mile 18 my quads began to burn. And by mile 23 I hit the proverbial wall. Between my burning quads and the windy parkway, I found myself walking with just over 3 miles to go. Then, I actually started thinking about how I would feel about myself after the race if I quit now. I also realized that I just got passed by a speed-walker, and could not let that happen. So I dug down somewhere deep to find strength. I prayed for help, and I began to run again.
A Long Two Tenths of a Mile
From that point onward, I just had to take it one step at a time. I just told myself ‘just a little more’. Then I found myself at mile 26, with just two tenths of a mile to go. That was when a spectator yelled ‘kick it’. And I responded to myself, ‘this is the kick, bro’. I never thought running two tenths of a mile would be so hard. But, like the other 26 miles, I conquered the that too, and I put my first marathon in the books at a time of 3:54.
My family was unable to come to the race as my wife did not want to risk going downtown Savannah with just three weeks until due date. But the best part of my day was coming home and getting a homemade card and a candy bar from my family.
On the positive side, I learned that I can accomplish something as big as a marathon if I work hard enough. I also learned something about overcoming adversity. On another note, I realize I could have done a lot of things differently. For example, I found myself getting caught up in the excitement, and running too fast at times. There were a ton of mistakes that I am sure I made during my training as well, despite having the advice of the Marathon Training Academy.
If you would have asked me after the race (while I was waddling to the car) whether I am going to do this again, I would have told you with much assurance: ‘no’. But after a little bit of rest, and a lot of thinking about the race, I want to do it again. I feel I left a lot on the table, and I want to do better. So, at some point in the future you may see me at the starting gate in a race near you. But for now I am going to recuperate and try to get ready for our new baby.
What do you think?
What will you do when you reach the bottom during your marathon? Will you be able to keep going?
What is the biggest lesson you learned from your marathon?