Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Marathon, In Detail

Okay, it has been a week since I ran the marathon, now I'm ready to tell everyone what the actual race was like.

The Start: I got there at 6:00 for a 7:00 race, hung around with the other runners, and got myself ready to run. I stood in the 9 minute mile pack of people, so when we started to go, there was lots of "traffic" before the actual run started.

Mile 1: Ran really slow, due to the massive amount of people, we were all tripping over each other, and no one was really running the pace they were supposed to, so I had to skip up to some faster runners as soon as I got a chance. There was a woman on the road during this mile with a sign that said, "You are NOT almost there" it was funny.

Miles 2-8: These were really pleasant miles, I was free of all the slower runners and there was plenty of room to spread out, also, the rain hadn't really set in yet, I got to 8 miles without even feeling like I had done much work, that is when I knew that this marathon would actually happen.

Miles 9-13: There was this massively long incline, probably a mile long, and the rain really came down for a bit, this is when the reality of the magnitude really began to set in. some guy was complaining about the difficulty of the course, which makes no sense to me because it is a marathon, of course it is difficult.

Miles 14-16: This is where things really started to hurt, chafing wise, my ankles started to bleed a little bit, my left arm was rubbing against my shirt and burned and my inner thighs began to hurt. I never ran this far in the rain, so I was unprepared for any chafing. Also, this is where I got my first taste of a gel. It wasn't half bad.

Miles 17-20: The blisters on my feet started to become irritated and the one on my left foot popped, which was excruciating. I was keeping pace with lots of the other runners, and some people started slowly falling back at this point. I knew it was going to happen, and the psychology at 20 miles is, "Hey I've run 6 miles hundreds of times, this will be easy"

Miles 21-24: This is where they decided to hit us with the hardest steep hills I've ever run. I began thinking incredibly negative thoughts. All the people at the water stations and on the side of the road kept telling us we could do it, what did they know? I was so angry, I began thinking that this was the dumbest idea I ever had. We did get more gels at mile 23, which helped, kind of.

miles 25-Finish: Here is where I realize, I am actually about to finish a marathon. New positive thoughts came across my mind, and allowed me to push through any pain that I was experiencing. So exciting. I got to the home stretch and I almost broke down crying because it was all happening. There were more spectators here, a bar we ran past had set up a booth offering beer to the finishers, I declined, but it was funny. I got to the last half mile or so and I saw my dad standing there, I said hi, he handed me an umbrella, I ran for a little with an umbrella, it was funny. I put the umbrella on the ground after about 300 yards, and just started pushing my legs as hard as I could muster. I saw the finish, hundreds of people were gathered there, all I kept thinking was that my friends would be waiting for me at the end, I was so excited. Regardless, I knew I wouldn't have to run any more, I finished, sprinting over the end check point. some girl hands me a medal and I am completely delerious. I get some free food and water. I can't find my friends and I am all fenced in, I almost passed out. I started crying. I stopped crying, I have to find my way out of the fences. Walking has become almost too difficult, finally after about 15 minutes of walking in circles, I find my way out of the fences and go to the finish line to find my friends. They were across the way when I finally did find them and they had to walk around the fenced area to get to me, it was about another 15 minutes before they got there. I finally knew I did it, the race was over and I was exhausted, so I leaned my head on a parking meter and let go. Through a mix of tears and laughter, I knew that it was true. I couldn't even remember how I did it, only that it was done and I felt like a new man.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ante Diem

As Whitney and I sit here discussing the title of today's blog, I find myself full of nervous excitement. 26 miles is a long run, but then, I've been training for months and am in the best shape of my adult life. Can I do it? I sure as hell hope so, but I know that once I am on the road, there is no stopping. If any of my followers still read this blog, wish me luck, I'll talk to you from the other side of the finish line.

Billy the Kid

Positive Thought for the Day:
There's always beer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Judgment Day Approaches

Today I finished the last 5 mile run in the training schedule for my marathon. My dream is finally becoming reality. On Sunday, I will run 26.2 miles in the GO! St. Louis Marathon. I've put in the long long hours of running required and I will resolute this journey on April 19th.

The thing I am most excited about is that all of my friends and family will be there, and I will be a living testimony that even the unlikeliest of candidates can achieve great success with hard work, determination, and a hell of a stubborned personality.

I could have listened to all the people who told me I couldn't do it. I could have listened to all the people who thought I was insane. I could have listened to my body when it was SCREAMING at me on some of the first very long runs. I didn't. Now, I'm in the best shape of my life, I no longer have high blood pressure, my stress level is next to nothing, my resting heart rate is that of an athlete, and I have made more friends in the past 4 months than perhaps ever in my life.

The story I would have written about my life had I not begun this training program would have rung significantly different tones. I was a smoker who ate fast food regularly with high blood pressure and drank to inebriation at least every weekend. I was overweight, unhappy, and unworthy of happiness really I suppose. Then, I made a decision, I wanted to know who I was again, regain some of the direction and purpose I had when I was younger. I started on a training schedule doing the one thing I KNEW would force me to get in shape, lose weight, quit smoking, and help me pull out of my funk. I became worthy again, I was no longer a drag. I know that if there is even an ounce of water left in my cells at the end of Sunday's marathon, I will cry the happiest tears of joy that anyone has ever cried.

Thank you running, for fixing my life.

Billy the Kid

Positive thought for the day:
There are no ends, only beginnings; no goal, once achieved, brings about an end, but only an opportunity for a new beginning.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Life & The Great Schematic of Truth

The weekend: a chance to rest and reflect or cool down and think about the events of the previous week and to plan for those pending in the week to follow.

This weekend I spent quite a few hours working on my home improvements that are integral to my living situation and financial security with the help of my good friends Jegar and Dylan. I have been having some pretty severe respiratory issues due to an infection that began last weekend and has really lasted all too long at this point. I took the weekend off from my running schedule because in my estimation it will behoove me to be healthy before I take on the long distances called for by my training schedule. I feel that I am prepared for the marathon and since I am on the "weening" part of the schedule, I am going to spend the next two weeks making sure that I am fully ready for the marathon: mind, body, and spirit.

Undertaking home improvement projects really gives me a chance to take my time doing something that benefits from thinking and working at the same time. In a way, it is like running, because before the project is underway, the task may present itself as dauntingly difficult, once we begin it sheds some light on the problems, late in the project it seems as though it will never be finished and we are motivated to give up, but then with that last little push, suddenly, almost surprisingly, it is finished. It is not until we step back and look at our work that we truly appreciate the beauty of a finished product. Much like running, it is not until we reach a specified destination or goal that we truly realize the accomplishment of our hard work.

I had a long conversation with my dad today, it was good because for the first time in a long time I felt like I was talking to a friend again, instead of just a boss. I miss my family sometimes, the way things were before money complicated our lives, before my dad wore a suit to work, before I went to college for almost 100K and bought a house, when Christmas brought no expectation of extravagant gifts, and we lived in a two bedroom shoebox. I think missing the past is a part of improving the future. I have never had such a clear mind about what I am doing on this earth, and I appreciate everyone so much more now that I have been realizing that we've all got purposes, goals, aspirations, meaning, questions, problems, and endings.

Positive thought for the day:
The beauty in life is not found in some magical forest where everything sings in harmony, but in the imperfect world we live in beauty is found in the unlikeliest places, hiding so only those who are looking for it will find it, and when we see it, it is absolutely and utterly breathtaking.