About 6 months ago I decided to run a marathon. Yesterday I ran the 2008 Marines Corps Marathon. I trained with the First Time Marathoners of Montgomery County Road Runners Club (MCRRC.) Since May I’ve been running 4 days a week, 3 short runs and 1 long run with the group on Sunday.
There were ups and downs as I progressed through the training but that was part of the training and I took all the aches in pain in strides knowing that it’ll only better prepare me for the 26.2 miles run. Toward the end of the training I was confident that I could run a marathon within 4 hours – 4 hours 15 minutes.
However, things aren’t always as expected. I did all I could to prepare for the big race, loaded up on carbs 2 days before the race and taper 2 weeks. I took the coaches’ advice and started out slow. The plan was to take it easy for the first 20 miles and really put in the after burner for the last 6.2 miles. As most marathoners will tell you, the race is really in the last 6.2 miles, that’s when you have to dig deep, ignore the pain and will yourself to make it to the finish line.
Everything was on plan for the first half of the race, but as I was pushing forward to mile 18, the unexpected happened. My legs were cramping up, first my left leg then my right leg. During my long runs with the group this had never happened before, I ran all three of the scheduled 20 miler and never cramped up. I ignored the pain and tried to keep a steady pace hoping that I could run through the cramps. This was not the case, by mile 20 both of my legs cramped up so much that I couldn’t run anymore, I was barely able to walk. I really wanted to quit, by now all delusions of finishing at a certain time goal are out the window. I just want to finish. I want to be able to make it to the finish line in one piece and not have to drop out of the race after spending so much time training for it. I decided to walk to give my legs time to heal up so I can make it through the last few miles. I distracted myself by taking in the scenic sights and reading all the signs held up by the crowd to cheer on their friends and families. The crowd support along the whole 26.2 miles was exceptional. I could feel that they’re are with me and genuinely want me to finish. After walking about half a mile I was motivated by the surging crowd so I decided to push hard for the finish line.
The singlet I got from my training program had a slogan on it that said “The marathon 26.2 NEVER A DOUBT”. We all went out there prepared and never having a doubt as to crossing that finish line. As I pushed during the last 2.2 miles the only thing that kept me going was by repeatedly saying to myself NEVER A DOUBT NEVER A DOUBT and the awe inspiring support from the crowd. I managed to shuffled all the way to the finish line, even up that agonizing last sadistic .2 mile hill. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” was playing and my friends were there waiting so I did a victory pose and hurried to the finish line so I don’t have to run anymore.
I went through so many emotions during the race. First I was confident that I could finish the race within my projected time, then reality set in and I felt so hopless that I wanted to quit, but the support of people from my running group, especially Yvonne, who ran with me for a while and gave me that life-saving pretzel, and coach Mike who saw me suffering and motivated me to keep going.
I finished in 5 hours and 12 minutes. ALL the pains, hopelessness, suffering and emotions are mine. I can now proudly say that I am a marathoner. I was humbled by the experience but in a way happy knowing that I can do better. I will continue training, I am hooked for life. My respect goes out to those that put in the time and effort to train for marathons, I can now say with certainty that I know what you’re going through. Here’s to the next run!!! may your feet be light and your strides swift.