I ran my 12th marathon on Sunday. It was my most average, yet great marathon experience I’ve had in a long time.
I do have to give a shout-out for how well organized Cellcom Green Bay Marathon was. They exceeded my expectations, and I’ve mentioned this was my 12th marathon, right? (Sorry, I had to throw that in there!)
Things to know going in:
-I wasn’t fully trained for a marathon. My longest run was 17 miles. I only bought a bib two weeks before the event.
-Knowing I wasn’t fully trained, I planned on a run/walk for a 5+ hour marathon.
-I “tapered” like a triathlete does, by doing a couple of mid-length (60-90minute) rides a few days before the marathon.
With those things in mind, I still lined up somewhere in the middle of the 4:10 and 4:20 pace group. Why don’t they have 4:15 pace groups? That’s where I’d like to start! 4:10 is a 9:32 pace, which is do-able, and 4:20 is a 9:55 pace, VERY do-able. Since I didn’t have any expectations of this marathon I wanted to give the “start slow” method a whirl. Normally I like to take off like it’s a 10K and bonk by mile 12.
The marathon started, I took it slow, averaging 9:40s,… perfect. By mile six things weren’t feeling so perfect. Dammit. It’s hot. Why am I walking already? I started slow. Oh my god this is going to be a seven hour marathon. I should put my music on and tune myself out.
But then this angel runs up alongside me “Hey Maniac! I’m a Maniac too, I’m just not wearing the gear. So, are you running a marathon in every state?”
“No, I don’t like traveling”
Even after an answer like that, she keeps talking. At the next aid station she trailed off into the distance and I resumed walking. A quarter mile later there she was again, “Hey you! I was waiting for you! Come on! I’m not really feeling this day and I would rather just have someone to talk to and get through this”
So we ran. We ran for 17 miles together to the finish.
She’d suggested that I go on without her if she was slowing me down, I’d tell her I wouldn’t even be running if I hadn’t met her. We needed each other. It was a weird, marathon fate.
While a 4:41 finish is nothing for most people to boast about, I’m really proud of this. It’s an average finish time for me. What I’m proud of is how well I survived this marathon. I started slow, hit a wall of doubt, and found a way to enjoy my journey to the finish.