Thursday, October 11, 2007

I am a marathoner.

Sun. Oct. 7, 7:59am: Downtown Minneapolis
"Should we be sweating before the marathon even starts?" -I say to my running partner Josh.

Thus the tone was set for the Twin Cities Marathon - a fairly grueling, seemingly all uphill, sweltering jaunt through neighborhoods that would probably be lovely - if only you weren't dragging your tired ass through the streets on foot.

To cut to the chase - I finished my first marathon, and feel very accomplished and satisfied for having done so. Lots of people asked me what I was raising money for, or whom I was running in memory of - neither. Someone once asked Sir Edmund Hillary, "Why did you climb Mt. Everest?" His answer: "Because it was there." There's something cathartic about doing battle with your body, the pavement, and your mind.

Even though I'd done some training runs of 16 and 18 miles, the 26.2 miles of the marathon was a completely different animal. To start with, this was the warmest temperature ever for this marathon - pushing 80 degrees. The last 5 weeks or so I'd been training in temperatures around 62-72 degrees...and expecting the race to be even cooler. Mother nature went medieval on us....

People were dropping left and right. Looking back on it, I think watching a marathon must be a fairly gruesome thing to witness as a spectator. Runners limping, bleeding, dripping in sweat, pained looks etched into their faces. I had to slow up from my regular pace, but kept plodding along....downing the Powerade and Gel packs. As I hit mile 23, I was feeling really good mentally - sure I would finish...and then bam - my hamstring cramped and knotted up; stopping me dead in my tracks. I pulled up like Barbaro with a broken leg at the Kentucky Derby. A few of the spectators that were nearby watched it happen and had that, 'oh, dude, you're screwed' look on their faces. Luckily, I was able to massage it out, do some light stretching - and I was back on my way....albeit gingerly at first.

As I passed the 26 mile marker, I dropped into a dead sprint for the final .2 miles - and finished to a roaring crowd of several hundred lining the final straightaway. When I crossed the finish line, I threw both my arms in the air and thought 2 things: 'I finally get to stop' and 'Did all that just happen?' My finishing time was 5:52 - about a half hour slower than I was shooting for. I'll chalk it up to the heat, and the fact that until about a year ago I'd never run more than 3 miles.

I'll definitely run another one. Maybe the NYC Marathon or Grandma's Marathon next. I'm always competing with myself and trying to push things further, and now I just want to run another one to beat my time and improve.

In the meantime, I'm catching up on all the desserts and drinks I passed up over the past few months.

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