After months and months of mundane existence, this insanely busy spring came as a breath of fresh, but thick air. March consisted of a week and a half long trip to Europe, immediately followed by a four day trip to southern California. April consisted of baseball. Lots and lots of baseball. It was Jeff's senior season, so at least 3 days a week I illegally sped in my red Jetta from work to a ballgame. April also consisted of lots and lots of training. Marathon training. May continued the trend. I ran the Marathon on the third, which I'll later go into more detail about. The following week I left for Southern California to attend Catherine's graduation. The next day I joined the Riley family on a week long cruise up to British Columbia. Upon my return to Colorado, I've entered into a relationship which has been time consuming in a completely satisfying way. Needless to say, I've had little time to reflect.
With the obvious exception of a relationship, the marathon is far and away the most special thing I've needed to process. At the beginning of February I decided to officially begin training. My dream was to run a 3:10 time, which would qualify me for the prestigious Boston Marathon. The race in Ft. Collins, while being at a high elevation, is also mostly downhill. I thought it'd give me a decent shot at that goal.
I began training hard. The first day of training was a 10 mile run during a huge snowfall. I did not get too much advice beyond scattered conversations with runners on how to prepare, so I used a collection of these conversations to work out my own training regiment. Starting out with ten probably was not the wisest choice, but I thought I was in good enough shape. Every thursday was to be my interval day. This meant I had to run 4 6:30 miles, with 5 minute jogging breaks in between each mile. This proved tougher than I originally thought, but I stayed consistent. Every sunday was my long run day. The first sunday was a 14 mile run just hours before the Super Bowl.
About 4 weeks into training, the arch of my right foot started killing me. It became difficult to even run short distances on. It swelled up and turned blue. As luck would have it, I had some sort of inflammation which caused me to stay off of it for a few days. Being that 3 months is already a bit short to train for 26.2 miles, I was not too excited about this.
After staying off of it for a week or two, I started running again, but couldn't do much. Several different bugs started going around work and I got sick for a couple of weeks. This didn't stop me from running, but it stopped me from training the way I needed to.
Then came the European vacation. I didn't run for almost two weeks. I didn't rest my body properly and pretty much did everything wrong or half assed in my training. The whole time I was wondering if my foot would be ready to go on may 3rd. If it was, I was not too sure that my body could handle finishing a marathon, let alone doing it in a qualifying time.
I ran consistently in April with no pain in my foot. I decided that I'd be good to go. My final long run was 16 miles about 2 and a half weeks before the race. Everybody I talked to said that I needed to top out at around 20-22 miles about 4 or 5 weeks out. That never happened. My goal became simply to finish. I had ten more miles to go after the most I had ever run. I didn't know if my body could handle it.
May 3rd came and it came early. I awoke at 3:20 that morning. I ate a banana and some peanut butter toast. I trimmed my toenails as low as they would go, applied Vaseline and runner's glide to almost every inch of my body, put my clothes on and left Loveland, arriving at Ft. Collins at 4:30. I boarded a bus by myself and took a 45 minute ride up the mountain to the starting line. While on the bus, I downed several water bottles and ate a clif bar. Got to the top of the mountain, peeled of my sweats, stretched a bit and went to the starting line.
It was freezing that morning. It had to be in the 30's at 6 am. I could see my breath and my legs were frozen, being that my shorts were so short that my ass was literally hanging out. I knew I'd warm up once we started.
The course was beautiful. Quite possibly the most beautiful morning I've ever experienced. The race started and I ran with one thousand of my closest friends towards the finish. To get there we had to run down the canyon, along a the beautiful poudre river, towards the sunrise. It rose directly through the canyon as the mist and fog gently rested on the tree covered mountains. I was close to tears.
My legs felt fresh, my heart was excited, and I cruised. With all the water I drank, I had to pee at miles 5, 8, and 11. After that, my bladder was good until the end. I was amazed at how good I felt. Every few miles I took a drink of water or some of that Heed sport drink. I had an energy goo in my hand that was given to me, but I never used it.
At mile 18, I was still cruising. But then, I heard footsteps behind me and a voice firmly said "You better quit messin' around and start running!" I turned around to see a short, bald headed man with a grey moustache. "Sorry," I said, "I'm going at a steady pace." "Hey man, you're only young once, you need to run this thing." Turns out it was his 164th marathon and he was planning on running 300 before he kicks the bucket. He told me he once ran a 2:55 marathon on a saturday, and the very next day ran a 2:53 marathon. Badass is the only word to describe this man. After running together for about half a mile he said "get going," and I got going. It was inspiration I needed.
At about mile 19 I passed a girl who seemed to be a pretty badass runner. I was feeling good. I hadn't been passed yet, except while stopping for the bathroom. I hate being passed. Even on a saturday morning jog. I hate being passed. I know that while training I'm just supposed to practice a pace and not run against people, but I'm too competitive. I hate hate hate being passed. That's how I run races. I don't let people passe me. It helps that I usually start in the back and all the people faster than me are in the front, but still, I don't like being passed. At about mile 22, this girl that I thought was in my dust, passes me. I was furious, but I was starting to feel a lack of strength in my legs. I knew it would take all of my energy to keep up with her and I couldn't keep that pace for the last 4 miles. It didn't help that it was a girl. I try to be forward thinking about women and their abilities, but I still hate being inferior in any way athletic to a girl.
I kept her in my sight for the last few miles as my body began to break down. I never got to a point of misery, but I was ready for the race to be over at about mile 23. She kept going further, and further ahead of me. She got to about 50 or 60 yards ahead of me and I thought, my only remaining goal is to pass this woman before the finish line. With a half mile left I turned it on. I ran as hard as my body would take me. With about 200 yards remaining, I passed her! She ate my dust for the final remaining distance. She'll never know that I was so intent on beating her, but it helped me finish.
As I crossed the finish line to the cheers of hundreds, my eyes wandered to the time clock and with amazement I saw the number 3:38:36. I had no idea how long it took me. I thought it could've been over 4 hours seeing as I only trained for about 2 months altogether. My final time ended up being 3:36:42 which I was extremely proud of. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I look forward to doing another. I only have 26 minutes to shave from my time. That's a full minute per mile, which is a bit daunting, but now I know what to expect.
The experience was beautiful. My only regret is that I was alone. I had nobody to share the glory with. Nobody to celebrate with. Nobody there to encourage me. Running 26.2 by oneself is lonely enough. Having nobody there at the finish line was far worse. I think it was good though. There is something about adventure alone. Accomplishing something by oneself. There was a freedom amongst the loneliness.