October 14, 2010

You never forget your first (finish)

Unless something goes wrong, Sunday will mark my eighth marathon finish. I've previously mentioned my first attempt at a marathon, which ended at mile 18, but I don't think I have ever written about my first marathon finish. My marathon quest started here, but the reason I ended up at this particular start line was someone else's inspiration.

Several of my California friends are runners, and they have been running marathons for years. My friend Matt was a skeptic about the "joys" of marathoning, and like many others considered them crazy. But when you are surrounded by something, especially something positive, bits of it begin to seep in, if only through osmosis.

A bit out of left field, before he had even begun running, Matt told his friends, "I'd run the marathon in Washington D.C." Eventually he had four other runners (including me) signed up to run the Marine Corps Marathon in October of 2006.

A brief recap of my running history :
  • started running in February 2005.
  • 5k's, 10k's, then my first half marathon in November of 2005.
  • Began training for the full marathon a month later.
  • Attempted my first marathon in June of 2006, Did not finish..
The second half of 2006 ended up being very busy. I can't remember which I signed up for first, but I would be participating in a fund-raising bicycle ride from Seattle to San Francisco for two weeks in September, and then running the marathon a month or so later. Terrible scheduling, but I couldn't pass up on either experience. The bike ride was one of those "life time opportunities", and running around our nations capital with four friends was to enticing to pass up.

After the DNF in the June marathon, I spent the summer on my bike to get ready for the two-week ride. The ride would be almost 1000 miles over 13 days, with about 45,000 feet of climbing. In order to be ready for this challenge, running was almost completely replaced with bike riding. From July to September, I ran all of five times. The bicycle trip was a great success, and one of the best times of my life.

When I returned from the bike ride, I had five weeks to get ready for the marathon. The first weekend, I attempted to run a 10k. It went badly. I had the same IT band/knee pain I had experienced before, and had to shuffle my way to the finish. For the next two weeks, my only exercise was swimming. The fourth week, I ran three times, maxing out at six miles, and then the week before the marathon, I got sick and didn't run at all.

So... I had no business running a marathon. I was certainly in decent shape from all of the bike riding, but my body was not prepared to run. I had run all of nine times over the previous four months, and the longest distance was six miles. And I still hadn't solved the IT band/knee issues. So, of course I ran it anyway.

(to be continued)

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