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My First Marathon!

After finishing the San Jose International Triathlon at the end of June, I decided that my next challenge would be a marathon. I started out with three "cascading" goals: (1) to finish, (2) to finish under 4 hours, and (3) to finish under 3:40. At the Silicon Valley Marathon, I managed to hit 2 of the three goals, finishing my first marathon in 3:56:27. Here's how it went:

Race Report

6:00 Up and ready to go. Stretch, get all the gear together, stretch, banana and water for breakfast, more stretching.

6:30 Drive to the race. Drink water. Wait in line to pee. Drink water. Wait in line to pee. Drink water.

7:30 Wait in the crowd for the start. Bang! Now we're moving! Calm down, calm down, don't get excited and run too fast. Go slow for the first few miles . . .

Mile 1: 8:36 pace, faster than I planned, but I'm loose and not even breathing hard. Well, no point in slowing down, just keep it loose. Dammit, cross over to get water; thought it was going to be on the other side.

Miles 2-5: Nice and loose, pace staying at 8:00-8:15. Hey, this is easy! Getting better at gulping water from those silly little cups. It's nice to be running w/o the weight of my Camelbak, but my aim getting the water from the cups to my mouth isn't always great.

Miles 6-8: I feel great. I'm not hungry, but I know I should get some calories in. Ooops, missed the water table, guess I'll go with a cup of Gatorade. Time to get the PowerGel out so I don't run out of gas.

Miles 8-10: Swallow the Powergel, half a packet at each mile. Ooops, theres a Gatorade burp, yuck. What a nice day for this! Pace still holding 8:15, plus or minus a few seconds.

Miles 11-15: Wow, I can't believe I still feel this good. Now I'm seeing people start to pull up, start walking, drop out. Push a little harder to keep the pace at 8:15. Starting to feel a little thristy, better get two cups of water at each station.

Mile 16-18: Hmmm . . . I should eat some more, but I don't really feel like it. O.k. one more PowerGel. Starting to want water every half mile, too bad the stations are a mile apart. Still holding my 8:15 pace nicely. Legs starting to feel a little fatigue, but all very minor.

Mile 18.5: Ow! Side cramp! Belly breathe, rub it a little. Not going away, o.k., walk a few steps. Whew . . . letting up. Now I can breathe o.k.

Mile 19: Where's the water stop? Did they just skip it? Oh well, one extra mile won't make a difference. Back on pace now, only lost 15-20 seconds to the side cramp. All systems back online! Still on the 8:15 pace. Wow, I might be able to break 3:40!

Mile 20-21: The final stretch. Still feel pretty good, but I'm going to slow the pace to save a little for the last 4 miles. Need more water, make sure I get two cups at each stop.

Mile 22: Uh-oh. Where did all my energy go? Ow! My quads are freezing up. Each step is starting to hurt a little. Got to keep running. Slow the pace, keep control. Get that water, starting to get pretty thirsty. Pace down close to 9:00 now.

Mile 23: Walk at the water stop, gulp the water. Start the run. HEY LEGS, ARE YOU LISTENING? I SAID RUN! O.k., maybe just a bit more walking. And now some running. Ooo, that hurts. Maybe some salt will help, gulp a bit, tastes great. But now I'm thirsty again. Losing track of pace here, but I know its dropped way down.

Mile 24-25: Hard to think, a little dizzy, lots of pain in my quads, some trouble breathing. And did I say pain in my quads? Walk to get control. A group runs by, trying to encourage people "we're all hurting now, but we're going to run in together. Come on!" [BTW, a big thanks to whoever that was!] O.k., legs back in gear, run with them for a while, but can't get enough air to keep it up, and boy do those quads hurt. Sorry, got to walk, see you at the finish. Gulp some more salt, get as much water as I can, eat a PowerGel (anything but run, please). Run, walk, walk, walk, run, walk, walk, walk. Oh shit, what am I doing. And where's the water? Gotta drink more.

Mile 26: Got a little wind back. Walk, run, walk, run. More run. I WILL finish, and can still get under 4:00. Get those legs going, I don't feel as bad as some of the people running by me on obviously cramped legs look. O.k, now I'm running, and I'm going to keep running (but boy, does it hurt!)

Last 400 yards: OW, who told my calves they could cramp up? Force 'em back, keep running. There's the finish! I'm in! Still got 5 minutes to spare on the 4:00! Yowee!

My 7 year old daughter grabs my legs as I enter the shoot after the finish. She says something sweet, not sure what, because I'm lunging for the liter bottles of water being handed out. Start to bend over to loosen the shoelace by the timing chip, and realize bending over would be a VERY bad idea. But I DID IT! I RAN A MARATHON! Woohoo! And where's the food? I'm hungry!

In retrospect, I would have changed a few things. Although I did half a dozen training runs in the 18-21 mile range, I think I should have pushed at least one run into the 23-24 range to give my legs the feel for those last few miles. During the race, I should have started taking two cups of water earlier, and I should have forced some more calories in. I also think I was pretty low on electrolytes, so I'll have to experiment more with that in the future. But all in all, it was a great race, and I did something that I've never done before (and something that, at one time, I was convinced I could not do).

My Official Results:

Offical Time: 3:56:27

521 of 1309 overall

442 of 1105 overall, men only

100 of 206 in M35-39 age group

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