In the days leading up to the race I was quite nervous. Could I actually do it? Was I going to disappoint myself or others? Two things in particular had my insides in knots: First, I had not run any sort of race whatsoever since track in high school, and even then the longest race I ran was the 200 meters! and Second, I missed a huge chunk of training with a bum knee.
At the very b
eginning of August my left knee just would not cooperate. I had to shut down altogether. My long run at that point had been 17 miles. And boy I was cruising. I was
getting closer and closer to 8 minute miles even in training; the time just kept coming off. My goal of a 4 hour marathon began to look not only attainable but perhaps to high of a goal! But, boom, there goes the knee. For the next 6 weeks I did literally nothing physical and the two weeks following that did only walking and some light lifting. Two months of no running.
I was really bummed about this. A few times I almost withdrew from the race, or at least changed it to the half-marathon instead of the full. Could I really expect to run a full missing two months in the peak of training season? I'm not a runner, after all.
What the heck, let's try anyways! So, having not run at all from the beginning of August, to the beginning of October I decide to have a go at running. The legs feel great. Well rested and strong. My knee is in great shape. I run 11 miles 8 days before the marathon as a sort've test. It's a great run. I pass with flying colors and get really excited. I ran the 11 in 1:35 which is an average of about 8:40 per mile. Great! Under 9 minute miles will get me well below the 4 hour marathon mark! I begin to taper down and rest for the race.
So leading up to the race I trust my knee and my legs, now I'm just mostly worried about the actual distance. 26 is a lot further than 11. 15 miles more!
Race day is just beautiful. Probably around 50 degrees at the 7:30 AM start. Nate (my brother) and I are nervous but ready
. It's really a lot of fun to be in an atmosphere like that; just so much anticipation and excitement. We took some pre-race pictures but hey didn't turn out. Bummer.
I really hope I don't have to stop and poop during the race.
We eventually make our way to our corral (the 4th, and last, corral because neither of us had run any race that could register us nearer). The fireworks go off and the line starts moving. My stomach is in knots.
Is this really happening? Are we really about to run
26 miles? I'm a bow-legged 200 pound football player. Nate, are you sure this is a good idea? I wish I was in the crowd right now...
We're funneled like cattle to the starting line. Oh boy here we go. And we take off. Well, sort of.
Mile 1 - Nate and I ran together this entire mile. It was about a 9:30 mile. We passed one dude with a "Today is my 67th birthday shirt on" and I told him congratulations and good luck. Nate and I both cracked a few jokes, I think as a way to ease our tension a bit. It's so packed here! How is my form? We see mom and dad on the right and it's fun to high five as we pass. We continue to bob and weave our way through a great many runners. The first mile
flag comes up quicker than I thought. The butterflies cease for the most part; running has that affect.
Mile 2 - I tell Nate good luck, we fist bump (for about the 5th time) and I speed up a bit. Time to rock and roll! Let's go Bart, you can do this! Man it is S
O crowded! I swoop across the road (we were running down the right side) to the left curb. This is where I run the next couple miles. I'm really enjoying this! I feel really good, the bands have been fun, and it's really cool to be cheered on by random people! I feel so encouraged! Under a bridge we pass a guy that's playing bagpipes and I applaud.
Mile 3 -
The first turn is at the end of this mile. I feel like I'm really starting to get into a rhythm. I wonder how fast I'm going? Boy I wish I would have seen the second mile flag to have a better gauge on my pace. Don't push. Don't go to hard. Long way to go yet, Bart. The picture on the left is, I think, about 3.5 miles. I'm starting to get a little irritated at the other runners at this point. You people have some nerve running in MY marathon! I wish that wasn't what I was thinking but it definitely was. I felt like I kept getting cut off and nobody was really holding a pace so we had a lot of speeding up and sl
owing down to weave in and out. Oh look, here comes the mile 4 flag! I'll be sure to check my time and see my pace...
Mile 4 - Those last two miles were really good! 26 minutes through 3 miles means 8:15 per mile the last two. Good work! If I can just hold this pace I'll be set up really nice. Am I going to fast though? The picture on the right is me about mile 4.5. At this point I jump up on the sidewalk and in the grass on the left. I'm just tired of weaving in and out of other runners. The problem with this is that at this point the curb is fairly high if I'm remembering correctly. It's about a six inch jump to the grass, which doesn't sound like much but if you have 22 miles ahead of you everylittle bit of energy exerted elsewhere hurts the cause. I still feel great. I'm just really enjoying the whole thing. The atmosphere is incredible.
Mile 5-6 - These two miles were pretty much the same. I was just trying to take everythin
g in and really enjoy what was happening. Make sure that you are taking the turns tight Bart! I remember reading somewhere that you could add up to 1/4 of a mile in the race if you take the turns wide. It's funny that a little thing like that consumed me. We merge back onto Broad St. and I know that that means mile 7 is coming up. I'm still in great spirits. At every water station they give away tons of paper and plastic cups holding water and gatorade. Mile 6 was the first time I grabbed something to drink, gulping it down while I ran. I made a joke about all the people stomping on the cups and how it made me want popcorn. I got a few courtesy laughs. I check my watch.
Mile 7-10 - Good pace. Just keep this up and we'll be outta here in about 3:45! I think I was averaging about 8:20 per mile after the first mile until this point. To fast? Am I going to be able to hold this pace? I spend a lot of time theses miles looking for people I know. I see Justin and Hannah Mast, and Claire Green, who are on staff with CCC at OSU with me. Nice to see them. I don't see my parents though and wonder why. They talked about seeing me at about the 8 mile mark. I wonder how Nate is doing? Mile 11 means back onto Hight St, and here it comes!
Mile 11-12 - This was when things started t
o fall apart for me. I hear a conversation from a couple guys. "Hey, have you stopped to walk yet?"
"Not yet, you?"
"Yeah, stopped a couple times for about 40 seconds."
This was the beginning of the end for me mentally. Really?! People are stopping? I thought this was a race! Well, if everyone else is taking short walk breaks then I may as well join in! That wasn't quite my exact thought pattern but it was sure close. It's sort've like when you see people doing something that you would rather not, but get swept up in it anyways. So, yeah, I do stop and walk. For about 60 seconds about halfway to mile 12. I really didn't even need to stop at this point, I just felt like it'd be a good time to catch my breath and relax. I see my parents shortly before I stop and walk.
Things really start to pick up about halfway through mile 12. This is when the crowd is pretty large and their enthusiasm seems to push me a bit. Runners that are stopping at 13.1 are beginning to pick up the pace and I can tell. People begin to kick. Not on purpose, but I begin to pick up the pace a bit to much; not that I'm kicking with the half-ers, but I don't think I was far off.
Mile 13 - After 13 we pass the half marathon turnoff point. This is an emotionally crushing mile for me. I sure wish I could turn off with those guys. 13.1 more miles? I'm really only halfway there? My legs are already starting to feel like jello. Generally, to be honest, I'm fairly ok at this point. I run the half marathon in 153:55. Good pace and something I was pretty excited about. The street thins out a bunch with all the half-ers gone and I like that a lot. Then this guy runs with me for about a half mile. Who is that dude? Why does he keep blowing that horn? This guy begins to drive me bonkers with his horn blowing. He is actually running a full marathon blowing that horn the entire way?
Yep, he sure was. I laughed for the first 30 seconds; then it just became irritating. I think I thought about Dumb and Dumber and the most annoying sound in the world. I laughed again; then got irritated again. Thank goodness he is moving faster than I am because I may have tackled him.
Mile 14 - I was joined by a great friend. Brian Kuric, one of the guys that I lead on southcampus ministry decided to join me. The picture on the left is actually Brian and I at around mile 21, so a bit further down the race. Brian was waiting for me at mile 14 and it was really great to see him. I needed some serious encouragement at that point.