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In the books

The fourth running of Grandmas Marathon is now in the history books. It wasnít my best performance, time wise nor was it my worst. I describe it as maybe my toughest and my easiest of all four. Even though that might confuse you Iíll try to explain this marathon as best I can remember.

To get it all started I need to actually go back to last year. My fourth running was to have been back than. I tried to make up for missing a week of training in just a few days and that I believe was the most likely cause of a stress fracture. That stress fracture took me out of being ready to run last year.

In order to avoid a repeat of last year I started training in January for a half marathon in early February. The thought was that training would provide me a good base for my marathon training which would start in the middle of February. I believe that training did exactly what I had hoped for.

Running a marathon is actually not that difficult. The difficult part is training for 18 weeks prior to the day of the event. The time commitment involved is tremendously burdensome. There are a number of mental and physical challenges that must be overcome in those 18 weeks. Itís kind of like preparing that Thanksgiving feast. After the hours of preparation itís done in a manner of minutes.

For this marathon I felt I trained well and smart. I pushed when I thought I needed to and backed off when I felt it was necessary. I chose a better and much more comparable terrain type location for my training runs. I paid attention to the pains and treated them appropriately. Primarily due to my training I went into this marathon with more confidence than I had for the first three.

That confidence I think allowed me for the first time to be reasonably rested. I slept well the two days prior because I was more relaxed. I was feeling good.

I awoke at 4:30 am on Saturday with no trouble at all. Getting ready was quite easy due to the fact that I had laid everything out the night before. All the items were pretty much in the order of how they were to be used or put on. First the band aids to wrap the toes, the blister powder, the socks, the unmentionable, the undershirt and so on. Once dressed, I went down the hall to the breakfast buffet that the hotel has for the runners. I had my bagel with peanut butter, a banana and a glass of milk. After completing breakfast I strolled back to the room and rested until it was time to catch the bus.

Just a bit after 5:30 I was at the bus location waiting for the loading to begin. This bus ride was just a bit different than the others. On my bus was one of the three runners who had run every one of the Grandmaís Marathons, 29 prior to this one. A reporter was on the bus just to get some reports from people on what there were feeling prior to running a marathon. She asked the gentleman in front of me how many Grandmaís marathons has he run? His response was ďAll of themĒ. It was quite an interesting story. Sure made the bus ride a lot more fun.

The bus got us to the start a little more than an hour prior to the gun time. In the past I waited and waited for this time to pass with a lot of anxiety. This time that anxiety wasnít there. Much more relaxed and the hour didnít seem to be that long.

There I was standing amongst a huge mass of humanity, about 7,200 other runners. Than just as all the other years two jet fighter pass overhead and chills go up my spine. The national anthem is than sung. My eyes got a little watery just as they did the very first time I was standing in the starting chute years before. The moment of running another marathon is about to begin.
The masses start to move ever so slowly down the starting chute. Faster and faster we go. A slow jog starts and than just like rush hour traffic we stop, start, stop and than finally slowly move along again. It took about 4 minutes to get to the starting line from where I started in the starting chute. I was on my way.

From the start of the race I was quite relaxed. Usually it takes me a mile or two to into a comfortable rhythm but not this day. I was feeling very good.

It didnít take long to feel that the weather for the day wasnít going to beneficial to running 26.2 miles at a better than expected pace. It was very warm and humid from the start. It was foggy and hazy at the start and stayed that way for about the first 4 miles. Than to make things just a bit worse the fog and haze gave way to the sun. Without a breeze off the lake, there was no doubt this run was going to be the warmest I have ever done.

Despite the warm weather through the first half I was pretty close to the pace that I ran when I finished at 4:37. However I could feel that physically I was more tired than I expected to be at the point. Muscle wise my legs felt very good but it felt as if my stamina was weakening. I knew the heat was beginning to take some of my strength away. It was at that point I chose to back off a bit and see if I could recover a bit. Even through eighteen my pace wasnít to far off.

Although my pace was still strong at eighteen miles I chose that today wasnít going to be the day I pushed myself to get a personal record. This was going to be the day I chose to enjoy a run and the entire atmosphere around me. I began to feel a calming sensation throughout my body and just pretty much went with the flow from that point.

As I continued on I thought about all the support that I have had up to and during this marathon. I am quite a lucky and blessed individual. Even though my family may think I am certifiably insane for wanting do these things, they support me wholeheartedly. Along with my family I have found friends through the old Grandmas Marathon web site forum to keep the fire burning. Than there is another group that is quite special to me, they are a group that I also found in a web chat room, that group is titled RCC. We are a bunch of regular folks who belong to Weight Watchers. In addition to supporting our efforts in the weight battle, we also support participantsí efforts to run, bike, swim, walk or whatever exercise one chooses. There is no way I could have run without all of the support everyone has given me.

Finally, I reached mile 24 and I knew without any doubt that this was going to be a successful marathon for me. I knew I was going to finish. The only question was could I do it in under 5:00. I had about 27 minutes to go and truth be told I was totally spent at this point. But there is something that happens when I get to 24, not sure if it happens to others, itís like things go into overdrive. There is no more thought process going on. The body just goes into automatic mode. I was still moving forward. When I passed the 25 mile balloon I checked my time and I had 14 minutes to go, I than knew than under 5:00 was going to be accomplished along with finishing my fourth running.

I finished at 4:57:24. Twenty minutes slower than my PR and 23 minutes faster than my slowest finish. However this running goes down as my best because it was my toughest. Even though it was my toughest I came away feeling very good physically which to me means yes I was ready for this and that made it easy to finish just as I planned.

One last note. Special thanks again to my RCC friends, to Lani for helping me at mile 17, to Kaitlyn and Abe at mile 20, to my family at the finish, to my family who I knew was with me in spirit and to the good lord for giving me the ability and courage to do something crazy.