June 3, 2012
“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it”-Ancient Facebook Proverb
“Stupid is as stupid does”-Forrest Gump
“What the hell do you think you’re doing???”-My wife
I had completed my first half marathon. I completed it in better then expected time and with a smile on my face. I had the great big goal of running a full marathon by the end of the year (and had signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon in early October). Unfortunately, there are very few events in between a half marathon and a full. So, I had set up a few more half marathons to keep me training for my full.
I was increasing my weekly mileage. My long run was getting longer.
I was increasing at a rate that I started to wonder if I could tackle a full before October…
I just kept running. The miles kept stretching.
I felt good. I was having fun.
The Minneapolis Marathon and Half Marathon was coming up fast. I was running up to 18 miles at a time. They also had a practice/group run 3 weeks before the event. A 20 miler for the marathon folk, a 10 miler for the Half-Marathon runners.
Figured I would show up and try for the 20 miler. If I could not complete it, then I had no business signing up for a full. If I could, then maybe I could take a shot at it. I learned at the Get Lucky 7K not to sell myself short. But, I didn’t want to set myself up for failure or injury.
Practice day was beautiful. Part of the marathon course was a 4 mile trail run around Pike island, and this was featured that day.
I started running with a few others. We swapped stories and it helped pass the time. Pike Island was right by the start/finish area, and it was a great place to run.
The day went on. My legs were tired, but I got a lot of great energy from my fellow runners. Got to the 10 mile/20 mile split and chose the 20 mile course without a second thought.
Close to 2 hours later, I was closing in on the finish. 20 miles. And my legs still had a little left. One more lap around Pike Island. I finished the day with just under 24 miles. I could barely walk, but think I could have gone another 2-3 miles if I had to.
The dye was cast. I was going for it.
Everyone thought I had completely lost my mind.
After all, I would be attempting this 16 weeks after I had started running. It was NOT a good idea.
And, they were all likely correct. I certainly would not recommend this to anyone else. But I was feeling good, had progressed safely and injury free. Putting it off may result in me giving up this dream.
They were right. I didn’t care.
I tapered down and changed races. Did some serious carb loading. The expo/packet pickup was getting to be very familiar territory.
My wife and a few friends came down to cheer me on. It was a spectator friendly venue. They could watch me start, walk a block and see me at 1 mile, then again at 4. A quick hop on light rail got you to the 12 mile/20 mile point. There was a restaurant nearby for the 8 mile lull. Then a quick ride on light rail again to get to the finish.
My wife and I were going to meet our friends downtown by the start. We got there close to the starting time and we couldn’t find them. I literally just had enough time to get to the starting corral and the race started. I was a little worried about my wife, and looked frantically for our friends in the crowd as the race started. No luck. When I got to the 1 mile mark, I saw them all together. That was a relief. I could focus on my race.
The day was beautiful and sunny, but it promised to heat up. There was a last minute change in the race route. Pike Island was flooded…bummer. They added an out and back to make up the miles.
Mile four. Saw the support crew again and they took a few pics. They told me they would be at mile 12. Good. Something to look forward too.
Mile 12 and got a pick me up from the crew. Was feeling strong. Temp was starting to climb. They were going for breakfast and would see me back at the same spot at mile 20.
13.1-half marathon done. I wasn’t even tired yet!
Mile 17. Last minute detour…and it wasn’t pretty. Out and back on a gravel service road. No scenery. No shade. Temp was starting to cook. Saw my first ever bloody running shirt and understood why men were told to put band-aids over their nipples…
Mile 18. We run past Pike Island and up the biggest hill on the course. It was another service road and at least a 30 degree incline. Most walked it. I didn’t. Big mistake. That one would cost me…
Mile 20. Support Crew. They were fed and happy. My uphill run had cost me. Temps were getting into the low 80’s and I was feeling it. They asked if I needed anything. “A ride to the finish line would be nice”. They thought I was kidding…
There are two halfs to a marathon. The first 20 miles, and the last 6.2. That is not an exaggeration. The last 6.2 miles was pain. Shade was a luxury with the sun high in the midday sky. I drank the Gatorade, and I wore the water. The sponges they handed out was the greatest gift. The guy with the garden hose was sent from heaven above. And the miles got longer and longer.
It was more mental then physical at the end. Forcing my mind to keep my body going. I never understood that until that moment. There is some truth that you find yourself, and what you are capable of in those last few miles. They don’t change you, but you can understand you better if that makes any sense.
I could hear the crowd ahead before I could see the finish. They were carrying me now. Temp was in the mid 80’s with high humidity. I was too naive to understand the dangers at that temp. I didn’t care. I could see the finish. I could see my wife and friends. Cameras came out as I crossed the finish line.
Got the gold and stained glass medal (which is still my favorite medal ever), the food and the high fives.
I was a marathon finisher.
I had done it. And I was scheduled to do another. But in between, I had another goal. The triathlon bug had struck, and it was coming up in 6 short weeks.