So now I’ve run two marathons and I’m a proud two-timer. I ran the relatively mild Sacramento CIM in December and the not-so-mild hill-climbing adventure in San Francisco today. While it’s fresh in my mind, I’d like to share the top 10 highlights of the race for me:
- I met Marshall Ulrich at the runners’ expo the day before the race. At 57 years old, he ran over 3063 miles from SF to New York in just 52 days. We bonded over running for cancer research, as he lost his wife at age 30 to breast cancer.
- We started in the dark on a chilly 57 degree morning, and it stayed that way. Cool cloudy weather kept my heart rate down and required less water.
- I lined up with the 4:45 Pace Runner, who was holding her little sign up as a beacon for me to follow. 30 seconds into the race, she yells out “Shoelace!” and runs to the curb to fix it. So much for the beacon.
- Running across the majestic Golden Gate bridge and back again.
- Running through the amazing Golden Gate park and taking in the fresh oxygen from the ancient trees there.
- Running behind a young man who was hopping barefoot, on crutches, with his left ankle wrapped. For the sake of my self-esteem, I begged him not to come in ahead of me.
- At mile 18, the actual devil (OK a guy in a devil costume) was offering hot dogs and beer for anyone who wanted to quit. For the record, I refused.
- Overcoming pain in my left knee (caused by downhill pounding), by adding more strategic walk breaks in the last 5 miles and repeating Isaiah 40:28-31 over and over in my head. The walks cost me the 5 hour goal, but I was happy about the way I adjusted to the struggle.
- Running miles 21 to 24 with a 75-year old guy named Bill, who was just as determined to finish with pride as I was.
- Finishing at 5:09:18, which is 40 minutes faster than my last marathon 6 months ago. Respectable and satisfying!
Running has been tremendously rewarding for me, and it all started with walking a mile on a treadmill and building from there. For this marathon I trained for 5 months on distance, speed, hills and visualization. All I had to do on race day was put it all together.
Any big challenge can be broken down into component parts and managed this way. Confidence in each component adds up to confidence overall. All together now… you are capable of far more than you think you are. However, there is no substitute for putting in the miles of work, and resisting the hot dog and beer from the devil.