Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Thanks to everyone

Thanks to everyone who helped me make it to the Philadelphia Marathon starting line. By running and biking with me, emailing encouragement, stopping me on the street to ask how my training was going, and sending your contributions to Metropolitan Career Center, you helped me keep my goal in sight and my training on target. Thanks also to your congratulations since the marathon.

Here's what else it took to complete the 26.2 miles.

Since October 2006:

  • 2,604 combined miles of swimming, biking and running
  • 649 miles running
  • 1,618 miles biking
  • 14 miles swimming (can you say neglected)
  • 236 high carbohydrate gel packs
  • 315 liter bottles of sport drink
  • 157 energy bars
  • 220,500 calories to replace those burned during training
The marathon itself was great. I spent 26.2 miles running with thousands of great people, who were overwhelmingly positive, happy to be there, mostly sure they were going to make the being in the crowd at Citizens Bank Park last September 30.

During the first few miles, I was nervous but optimistic, trying to find my rhythm and my pace. After four miles, I felt thoroughly warmed up, comfortable, smooth, and ready to settle in for the miles ahead. By the time I hit the half-way mark, in the midst of the huge crowd on Eakins Oval, I was ready for a boost. Now I happened to go through the crowd (at my 13.1 mile mark) about 2 minutes before the overall winner hit the finish line just a few yards away, so the crowd as pumped in anticipation. They fed it all to me and the many other people who were at that point half as fast as the winner.

The run out to Manayunk got quiet. The course took runners up a steep climb off Kelly Drive, which hit a lot of people, already tired from 15 miles of running. People stopped talking. I could see faces, postures and strides that showed people starting to hurt, ready to be done. Once on Main Street, the long, slow hill continued to pump lactic acid into thousands of legs, but the crowds and the partying offered great distraction and comedic interludes. After the turn-around at the end of Main Street, and the fading crowds after leaving Manayunk, with just five miles left, I could see who was having a good day, and who wasn't. People walking along the side of the road, some defeated, some just trying to find some energy to get to the end. Groups of people talking as they wound down to the conclusion of several months of training and planning. People (including me) pushing on, digging deep inside to find something to keep the legs turning over.

During that final stretch, it occurred to me that this was just another long run. I had run up to 20 miles during training, with no pressure, no time clock, no throngs of faster runners passing me along the way. After the miles and hours of training and convincing myself that I could complete a marathon, actually doing it was not the huge feat - getting myself ready and able to do it, that was the feat.

Hitting the 25-mile mark, along boat house row, the crowd was still there, albeit smaller, still shouting and clapping and yelling out. Almost there! Great job! You can do it! And they were right.

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