Way back 18 months ago, I decided that a long-standing goal of mine needed to be realized: a marathon at 40 years old. Unfortunately, my 40th birthday came and went too fast, but over last summer I had the resolve to commit to myself that while I was still 40, I’d run the Big Race. I started running once or twice a week starting in July / August and upped the rhythm to 3 times a week in September/October. In mid-October, I ran my first 20k and got a decent result of 1:44:46 – better than I had hoped for which was 1:45. I continued and researched marathon-specific training. Jogging International magazine has a special annual issue on marathons and I decided to start the 10-week training with a goal of 3:45:00. It consisted of 4 runs per week with interval training and long runs on the weekend with a gradual climb in difficulty until week 8 and then two weeks to assimilate and then yesterday – the marathon. Well, I didn’t make it under 3:45, I had 3:54:44 but I think that the training enabled me to finish the race and feel perfectly fine as I am writing this. Just a little soreness in the legs and a few toenails that needed mending today but otherwise, no problems.
So coming to the theme of this post, being a marathonian to me means having the determination that regardless of the mental and physical challenges of a 42.2km run, one never stops. Even if you have to walk (and I did at km 27, 29, 30, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39 and 40) a little bit – keep moving. The accomplishment for me was not an immediate feeling on crossing the finishing line. I did utter a “mother fucker I did it” but the relief was more of a “its finally over” than a triumphant bellow. The real feeling of achievement came a few hours later when I could take a bit of perspective and realize that 1 year of motivation, 6 months of preparation and especially 10 weeks of training led to a perfectly respectable result of under 4h (above the middle of the pack and slightly over the average speed – I ran average 10.8 kmh and the average was 10.7kmh. I know that the next time I will improve.
The biggest lesson was The Wall. There is definitely something ethereal and intangible about the sudden drop in morale and energy after the 27th km (for me) and the 30th (for many others). Weird because looking at my timing, I was right at 12 kmh and feeling great until -boom- I hit this red zone and had such a hard time getting over the fact that I STILL had 15km to go. I suppose that the second (and third, and …) time I try that I’ll be better prepared for The Wall, having already experienced it. Stay tuned for later this year perhaps but certainly April 2011 for another shot 🙂
In terms of reading, I’d highly recommend Jim Fixx “The Complete Guide to Running” which is a bit old but very inspirational. Jim extended his expected lifespan but almost 10 years via running! Also, Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” was also a big kick in the butt for me when I read it this April!
Je suis marathonien et j’en suis fier.