Marathon: Have I Lost My Mind? What If I Fall On My Face? And Other Valid Questions

So, I want to run a marathon, huh? Have I lost my mind?

My experience with “distance” running includes walking a few 5K charity events with friends as well as a 3K humane society walk with my cocker spaniels on which my wife–not I–took the reins of the unruly pup.

That’s it.

I know nothing about running a marathon. I know nothing about the type of shoes, clothing, and other equipment I might need. I know nothing about how to train. I know nothing about my “pace” or “estimated finish time.” And yet for some reason, I think I want to subject myself to this torture. But what about my many questions:

  • What if I pull my groin?
  • What if I don’t finish?
  • What if I get lost on the course?
  • What if I accidentally drink Powerade instead of Gatorade?

I intend to answer these and other questions as well as chronicle my journey as I press on to the final destination:

The Glass City Marathon
April 25, 2010

Wait – April 25th? That’s only 126 days away! Eighteen weeks! Gotta go get started.

Wish me luck!
(or talk me out of it)

MARATHON: Have I Lost My Mind? What If I Fall On My Face? And Other Valid Questions

Well, I did it. I successfully completed my first marathon. And I actually finished (both physically and chronologically) in much better shape than I anticipated:

My recovery has been easier than anticipated as well. I did rest for most of the afternoon following the run and took off work the following day for more rest, a massage, and yes, a pedicure (I just wanted someone to rub my feet and my wife had already made it known that she would have no part of that). It was nice for me – but probably not for the pedicurist.

Today, three days post-run, I have practically no sore muscles and am feeling totally fine. The training I have been following continues with a recovery training period of 4-5 weeks, so I even have a little jog planned for tomorrow.

I am ending this blog asking the same question I started with over 4 months ago:

Have I lost my mind?

Even though I was feeling a little dazed immediately following the race, I don’t think I actually lost my mind. I did, however, lose several pounds of body fat, many cholesterol points, a few toenails, and a winter glove on my running trail.

Other questions I asked in my very first post, I now also have an answer for:

What if I fall on my face?

  • Not applicable

What if I pull my groin?

  • Not applicable

What if I don’t finish?

  • Not applicable

What if I get lost on the course?

  • Not applicable

What if I accidentally drink Powerade instead of Gatorade?

  • Race coordinators made certain that ONLY Gatorade was served.

A big thanks to my wife, my parents, and my in-laws for supporting me throughout this endeavor. I appreciate your being there with your signs, balloons, and cheering along the way. I also want to thank those of you who’ve been nice enough to read these posts and leave comments throughout. Your support was inspirational and helped me push through to the finish line.

Keep up your pace,

Kent.

Is It Okay To Be Nervous?

I’ve officially completed my 18-week Marathon Training, and I’m proud to say that I haven’t missed a single day (even with the harsh winter). I have clocked over 442 miles total. All of this hard work will culminate with a 26.2-mile run on Sunday. One thing I will have to overcome is the weather. It is not looking all that great as of right now:

Needless to say – I’m a little nervous. Not necessarily because I am questioning my ability. Not even because of the weather. The reason I am nervous:

Both my parents AND the in-laws are coming into town to share in the festivities (no wonder there is a disturbance in the weather!).

Just three more days!

Where Can You Find Good Motivation?

I have only one more week before I lace up my new running shoes for the big event. I remember reading somewhere that I should find extra inspiration for the last few weeks like a motivational book or movie like Hoosiers.

Since this is my first marathon and I don’t know that I can run the full 26.2 miles, I decided to go all out and find as many motivational mediums as I could.

On Sunday, I watched two movies: Chariots of Fire and Run Fatboy Run. Chariots of Fire is a drama that won 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Run Fatboy Run is a comedy that won absolutely no awards. They are two completely different films yet with some striking and obvious similarities: both include running and both are set in England.

I am sorry to report that the Oscar winner was tiresome; in fact, after I finished watching it, even my wife said I looked as though I had just run a marathon. Run Fatboy Run, on the other hand, was entertaining and humorous. But, don’t take my word for it:

I think it goes without saying that I could relate more to the non-award winner (in more ways than one).

How Do You Show Proper Respect?

After last week’s climax — 20 miles on Sunday, 40 miles total for the week — I have officially begun my tapering period (i.e., gradually reducing the amount of running) so that I can be in top condition on April 25. So, today was only 12 miles. I have to admit it is a little bizarre using the term ONLY here because I remember 15 weeks ago when 6 miles was no easy task.

With all of the long runs I have completed, I have certainly added some wear to the NEW running shoes I purchased only 3 months ago. Many websites suggest that runners purchase new shoes anywhere between 300 and 400 miles. Specifically, they should examine the midsole (the part that provides cushion and stability) because it tends to wear out first. Since I had logged 316 miles on my shoes and I was starting to feel the cushioning not doing its part, I thought it was time to break in a pair of new(er) shoes before the marathon. So, last Saturday I purchased my second pair of running shoes and have officially retired the first.

It seems so disrespectful to just throw out the 3-month-old ones though. We’ve been through so much together. On those freezing mornings when my wife stayed in the warm bed, who was with me for those early runs? My shoes. When the trail was covered in snow and ice and I needed some extra traction, who kept me upright? My shoes. When I was almost attacked by that rabid raccoon, who encouraged me to pick up the pace and get to safety? My shoes.

If only there was some casket-like container – a rectangular receptacle that I could lay them to rest in. Oh, wait a second…..

RIP, my friends; you will not be forgotten.

By the way, after today’s run, I have logged over 412 total miles since this journey began.

Is There Added Pressure As A Public Figure?

This week was a “step-back week.” So, I only had to run 14 miles yesterday — it’s hard to believe that I get to use the word only with the words 14 miles. Still, I am being set-up for next week: 20 miles.

Now that I am getting on up there in the miles, I have more (longer) opportunities to run in to other runners on my training ground (sweat trail). Like a few weeks ago – while enjoying (going through the agony of) my long run for the week I was being pursued by a group of four runners. It was obvious that they consistently train as a pack. At this particular point their chosen topic of conversation was some schmuck’s tattoo. Since they were trailing me and only slightly gaining on me, I heard a lot (too much) of the conversation. Then – it happened.

I was approached with – wait for it – my first runners’ banter. That’s right: my first dialogue with other runners. Sure, I have exchanged nods and pleasantries but this – this was something special. For your enjoyment, the transcript along with my thoughts in italics is posted below:

Runner #1: “You got a long one today?” That’s what she said.

Me: “Yeah, 16.” You see, for us seasoned runners there is no need to add the word miles – it’s understood.

Runner #1: “Yeah, I saw you on Route 2.” Since it was a long run, I not only ran the trail in the park but also did some road running.

Runner #1: “Training for a marathon?”

Me: “Yeah. First one.”

Runner #1: “Which one?”

Me: “Glass City Marathon.”

Runner #1: “Oh, the Glass City. Good luck.” He said this with much respect.

Runner #4: “I hope you have good weather – it’s all about the weather.” This one may have been the schmuck with the tattoo.

Me: Just gave a polite nod and continued on my way.

Thus, I am now, officially, a RECOGNIZED member of the running community.

When Do You Have To Start Worrying About The Dreaded Red Eleven?

My training is a bit grueling now. Yesterday called for 18 miles (bringing this past week’s total mileage up to 36 miles).

However, with 13 weeks of training behind me, I have finally moved on from some of my earlier concerns:

  • A couple of months ago in my post “How Much Pain Do You Need to Gain?” I admitted to some foot/ankle pain. I am happy to report that the pain/swelling is no longer an issue. Apparently, I just needed to get used to the amount of pounding I am putting my feet through.
  • The weather is finally getting nicer to run in. All of the snow/ice has melted away and the temperatures are rising every day.
  • Also, even with the time commitment, the pain, and weather, I still have not missed a training day.
  • And most importantly, I have not fallen on my face.

Even still, with more miles come new concerns:

  • Will I have enough time in my day to complete my training?
  • Will this black toenail ever go back to normal?
  • And, most importantly, at what distance do I need to be concerned about the infamous Red Eleven?

I guess the BodyGlide anti-chafe stick the in-laws mailed me could come in handy after all!

Did Daylight Savings Time Come Early This Year?

Again, I know it has been a while since my last post. But I have a good excuse this time. I had an upsetting experience that really gave me a scare.

Allow me to set the scene:

It is a Thursday – late afternoon – an unexpected turn of events at the office forces me to stay a little late. Upon reaching home, the reality of the day sinks in and I find myself exhausted and ready to collapse on the couch for a quiet evening watching TV. Then it hits me – I still have to get in my 4- to 5-mile run.

The sun is setting fast. I find myself racing the clock to get changed and stretch. I grab a quick snack and lace up the old running shoes. By this time I don’t know if I can complete my scheduled workout and make it home before dusk – but I must attempt it. And I did.

However, towards the end of my run, it was getting dark; it was difficult to see the path. Then it happened. From just behind me and to the left (that is – back and to the left*) I heard some rustling. Through the dark a masked individual sprinted toward me. But fortunately, I was already in stride and was able to get away before s/he could attack.

I never suspected such crime lurked in the Metropark after hours. Even though it was dark and I was running and it all happened so quickly – I will never forget the face of the perpetrator.

Luckily, daylight savings began today so I should not be “caught in the dark” again.

*see Seinfeld and “the magic loogie”

Am I Smarter Than The Average Bear?

Do not fret! I am still here and still training. It has just been a while since my last post. Actually, I have surprised myself and have not missed a training day. However, I do have a trip planned to California in a couple of weeks, which is scheduled over three training days; so, we’ll see if I can keep up my schedule (I sense a post on this in the future).

Yesterday served as another milestone. I ran 13.1 miles. That is one-half of the distance I will be running ten weeks from today. I RAN A HALF-MARATHON YESTERDAY!

Being a former Boy Scout, well a Cub Scout (I’ve never been one to over-achieve), I took some precautions. Since thirteen miles is far to run, especially in freezing temperature with eleven inches of snow on the ground, and since I felt like throwing up after my twelve-mile run last week, I made sure to program the Park Ranger’s phone number into my iPhone (see earlier post regarding my training grounds). That’s right. Just like Yogi Bear, I can now contact Mr. Ranger if I take a fall, get stuck in a snow drift, witness a squirrel thawing its nuts, or just get lonely after running for over two hours.

     

Now, if I can only find a good place to hide a pic-a-nic basket full of good eats (I get hungry after about mile nine)… I wonder if Mr. Ranger can help me there.

Could I Be To The Point Of No Return?

Well – I did it! I actually registered for the Glass City Marathon this morning. I guess there is no turning back now.

Just in case the registration is not motivation enough to keep going, I thought it might be good for me to take a look back at some of my accomplishments since deciding to embark on this journey:

  • I have completed one-third of the Marathon Training program.
  • I am 79 days away from running my first marathon.
  • I have run over 120 miles total.
  • I have burned about 14,000 calories while running.
  • I have lost 38 pounds over the past six months.
  • I have gone from a pants size 34 (sometimes 35 – to be said in a whisper, please) waist to a size 30 waist.
  • I have improved my cholesterol level dramatically.

Wow! I’m kind of amazed and proud of not only the milestones reached along the way, but also the health benefits gained from this experience. I guess it truly is a life-changing experience.

I realize this post was much more sentimental and self-reflective than any of the previous ones. I hope I did not scare any viewers off and promise to go back to the sometimes comical occurrences that I experience along the way. Thanks for indulging me this one time.

Now – back to the funny!