June 20th 2010
The furthest I’d ever run before that date was 32 kilometres. I was confident and very excited. When the starting gun fired, I felt a surge of energy. I wanted to run as fast as I could, but I didn’t. I had a plan and I was sticking to it.
I ran the same pace I had been training at, the only difference was I was not alone. It was a little claustrophobic running with so many people. I didn’t mind it, but was annoyed at the runners who pushed their way through the crowd without warning anyone. Running etiquette dictates when passing someone you should give them some warning.
It wasn’t until around the 10.5-kilometre mark things got interesting. This was where the full marathon runners separated from the half-marathoners. The road suddenly became a lot less congested as there were about five times more half-marathon runners than the full.
At around the 16.25-kikometre mark, I came to a group of runners who were very friendly. I learned one of the men in the group was a veteran marathon runner. He was giving advice to the group. One of the guys told him this was his first marathon.
“We have a marathon virgin over here,” shouted the veteran.
The crowd cheered.
I told him I was one too, so he announced me as well.
As I passed the group, the veteran told me to slow down or I’d never finish. I thanked him for the advice but proceeded at my pace.
At around the two-hour mark I did a body assessment. I realized I was getting kind of cold. I hadn’t eaten yet. I slowed down and began walking. I grabbed an energy bar and took my time eating. I started to feel better immediately.
When I passed the 32.5-kilometre mark, I began to smile. At this point my legs were burning but I still had plenty of energy. And I remembered one of my favourite quotes, “pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.”
As I crossed kilometre 39, I felt tears well up. I could have easily cried. I knew at that point that I was going to finish the 42.6-kilometre race. I was focused and tried not to pay much attention to the occasional EMT helping runners who more than likely didn’t finish the race. A few of them I recognized as some of the runners who pushed their way through the crowd at the beginning.
With just over a kilometre to go, I really began to pick up my pace. I was surprised at how good I was feeling, especially when I entered the university stadium.
When I rounded the final corner, I saw my wife and our friends the Jones’ cheering me on. I crossed the finish line at four hours and 32 minutes.
I was greeted by volunteers who brought me to the recovery area. It was there that I drank the best chocolate milk I’d ever tasted. I have to wonder if all food tastes this good after running 42 kilometres.
I did it, I had a medal around my neck. I set a goal and I achieved it. I am bothered a little by my time. I feel I could have done better. I could have easily finished about 10 to 15 minutes sooner if it wasn’t for those darn lineups at the portable toilets along the way. But I’d rather be a little slower than extremely embarrassed if you know what I mean.
So I’ve been bitten. This will not be my last marathon.