Thursday, March 20, 2008
I did it.
The Shamrock Marathon Virginia Beach.
Sunday, March 16th, 2008. My first Marathon.
Twenty-Six Miles, Three-Hundred Eighty Five Yards.
I DID it.
Oh, man. It was AWESOME.
I started out pacing myself really well-- Resisted the urge to speed up and just took it easy, running like a ten-minute pace; I hung out with the 4:15 Pace group at the start, then moved ahead of them at the midpoint... I loaded up on Gatorade early at every Aid station, and I also had my fuel belt. I brought two Powerade gels with me.
I used the port-a-john at mile 16 (I hadda go bafroom BAD) and then labored a bit through mile 17, victim of negative mental strife--perhaps the worst bi-product of any endurance event-- at which point I actually practiced Vipassana Meditation techniques-- centered on the breath-- and got through it.
(Thank you, Buddha!!)
I stuck to my plan, taking a gel with water at mile 18 and another at Mile 22, then got a major boost and hung in with the 4:15 pace crew through mile 23, before slowing down a bit the last three miles. I was just thinking, "One more mile. One more mile..." It was hard. Really hard. I have a newfound respect for the distance, the effort & the work ethic of those who run this thing at such insanely fast paces...
I gave it a strong finishing kick, and pumped up the crowd the last 100 yards or so. They were all cheering, and I took off my Sox cap and played to the crowd like I was Carl Yastrzemski!!
I had a blast.
I finished the 26.2 mile course with a time of 4:20:42, not bad for my first try. I guess I should say that--in all seriousness--I was a little bummed about my time, but I had been training by running my Long Runs at about a 4:30 Overall Marathon pace, so I guess I can count it as a ten-minute win!! Another plus for me is the fact that I never broke stride or stopped to walk (other than using the port-o-john) and I pushed it in the final few-hundred yards.
Now that I know how hard it is to actually finish, I want to get under 4:00 next time and just keep working hard each time out. I'll get to Boston one day, no matter if I'm Johnny Kelley's age when I do!!
All in all, in terms of setting a goal, sticking to a plan, overcoming fatigue and injuries, learning new things about my body and how it responds-- It was One of the best days OF MY LIFE!!!
I'm a MARATHON MAN!!! WAHOOOOOOOO!!!!
So, up next, me and Jennie are running the Henrico 5K on Saturday. My body responded really well to the rest the last four days, and I just did an easy two miler with a time of 16:08 this afternoon-- Just to see where I'm at. I'm currently trying to do lots of stretching, eating lots of pasta, and catching up on my sleep.
Now, my plan is-- brace yourself, folks--to work really hard all summer for my first ULTRAMARATHON. I'm running the 'North Face Endurance Challenge' 50-mile Race in DC on September 6th, in order to raise money for The Richmond Theatre Artists Fund... it's an emergency fund for theatre folk-- actors, designers, directors-- who have health emergencies and stuff. It is really important to the artists in this community. (I just hope I don't need to 'dip into the fund' as a result of the medical expenses I incur from running the race LOL!!!)
After that, I'm shooting for the Richmond Marathon on November 15th.
As for the '50-Miler,' I KNOW I can do it. Moreover, I WILL do it.
I'll have to train smart, train hard & get in the right mindset. Work on strengthening the core, hip & leg flexors & extensors, and break the race down into small pieces. Practice eating carbo-loaded food while running (pb&j, energy bars, pretzels, etc) and make a fuel plan for it.
I want to thank my wife, Jennifer for her help, support, and encouragement. She ran a few blocks with me at the end, and even endured a really bad stomach ache on race day, but she was there waiting for me in the cold with the camera, taking pictures and cheering me on.
I also want to thank Joy Williams for providing the inspiration to run this thing. Joy and I were in 'Moonlight and Magnolias' recently, and on the day of the Richmond Marathon last year, Joy was about two miles away from the finish line when she popped into rehearsals-- at Theatre IV's downtown space-- in her race gear and said "I just want to say hi!!" I was stunned and inspired that this incredible woman could find the strength and energy to pop into the rehearsal hall at mile 23 of a Marathon. Unbelievable.
And lastly, a special thanks to my friend, Floyd Atkins, the 'Race Guru' in Seattle, Washington. The one thing Floyd said that resonated with me the most was "Run the race, don't let the race run you." If I had a mantra going into it, that was it.
I could hear that in my head the entire time. Thanks, buddy.
I'm freaking addicted now. I just had the time of my life.
This is just the beginning.