This post is a recollection of my experience while training for a marathon. In college, what spurred me to tackle the challenge of the marathon was overhearing my labmates discussing bucket list challenges. One of those happened to be running a marathon. The thought resonated with me because of my 4 years of running experience despite my rustiness.
“Smooth and controlled”
These two words were my personal mantra that I would mutter to myself during my fast runs. I was by no means elite with my speed but I so badly wanted to strive for greater endurance to outlast the competition. My advantage was being young. I would blitz through 5 miles at a pace around 9.35 mph (6:25 min/mile) for roughly 32 to 33 minutes.
For me, running felt free, especially when I was outside enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery. I felt fast and a meaningful sense of accomplishment with measurable goals. It was so empowering when I could just feel my pace and know what I wanted to work on with my training plan.
Following are reposts from my Tumblr blog.
My first marathon is on the horizon. Now I am waiting out this month to see what possibilities await. Unfortunately, I injured my left ankle, which is a likely consequence of the rough training required for such a challenging event. I’ve never felt so tired before on a long run, the last run of 2011 and the last 20 mile run during my training plan. On the fateful day of the Superbowl, I will earn my title “Marathon Matt”. Although I never felt that I have reached my full potential in running, I know that completing the challenge of the marathon will be sufficient for myself in acknowledging my talents for endurance. I cannot wait to feel the ethereal existence brought about by enigmatic fatigue. That is my rite of passage. That is how I will become a true runner. After that moment, I will embark on my journey to reach my full potential as a runner and start kicking my high school personal records into the ground.
Today was an amazing experience. I kept up with the 3:10 pacers up until mile 18, where my left calf locked up and the wheels fell apart. I constantly reminded myself to stick to thinking about the mile I was doing. My plan was to take the first half marathon distance easy, transition from the 13 to 20 mile markers, and finish with a 5 mile (tempo effort) run, followed by an all-out mile. Though what actually occurred was unexpected, I still finished at a decent 3:36. Surprisingly, my high school teammate’s dad was doing a 15 mile run while cheering for his wife. I told him that I did three 20 mile runs during my training. He responded that you cannot expect what happens on race day. Nonetheless, I had a great first marathon, though I will always having the nagging, lingering thought about what I potentially could have done if my calves did not lock up. I felt the pace maintenance requiring more effort at the 18 mile mark, which I fully expected. Perhaps I need more electrolytes (Gatorade)? Anyways, I cannot emphasize enough how cheerful the other runners and spectators were.