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I finally did it.

I ran a marathon.

PhillyMedal2017.jpg

Apparently, I am officially insane.

Yesterday, I ran my first marathon in Philadelphia.  For those of you who may not be runners, that is 26.2 miles.  That happens to be just about 16.2 miles too much if you ask me.

RockyStatueRun

I ran faster than this statue!

Some people question  my sanity when I run everyday, in any kind of weather–rain, sleet, snow, sub zero wind chills, etc.  After mile 18, I was questioning my own sanity.

At the half way point, I felt more tired than I usually did after a half-marathon.  I have run two half marathons a year for the past four years.

By mile 18, I was thinking I might not be able to finish.  I have never hit a wall before.  I have hit a few cars, a tree, a light post . . . but never a wall.  For the shorter races, I almost never stop to get a drink.  I can run 13 miles without water.  I’m like a damned camel without the humps.

But everything I’ve read about running a marathon stresses the importance of fueling and hydration.  So at about mile 6, I started regularly hitting the gatorade/water stops.  And this usually meant at least a stop, if not a walking pace, because I am not one of those people who can run and drink at the same time–not without wearing most of the gatorade and choking.  I can barely type and chew gum at the same time.

After mile 18, it became noticeably harder to restart running and regain the previous pace after stopping for gatorade.  I started skipping water stations just so I wouldn’t have to restart again.

tinderdate2017M

What do you mean no RUM????

Around mile 20 there was a group offering cups of beer.  I am all over that.  I would have come to a complete stop for a beer at this point.  Had they had some bar stools there, I might not have finished the race.

I started grabbing half bananas and oranges that people offered along the route.  I kept looking for donuts or Reese’s Cups, but apparently those items are frowned upon by the racing establishment.

The route of the marathon travels up along the river, does a U-turn in Manayunk, and then heads back down the river to the finish line near the Art Museum.

The U-turn brought me back to the group serving beer,  Hallelujah!  One of my prayers was answered!  I paused to gulp down a second cup.   I was praying an awful lot after mile 20.  A mile later I was regretting not taking a six pack to go.

And then an interesting thing happened.

cutebutt2017M

Not that.  But rather, I found after mile 22 it was starting to get a little easier.  I still felt like crap.  Every muscle in my legs hurt.  But I actually felt a little better overall, and I slowly realized that I just might be able to do this after all.  It had to be the beer!

I crossed the finish line after 4 hours, ten minutes and 54 seconds (a 9:34 pace.)  After the race, I slowly–painfully–made my way back to the hotel.  Just stepping up a curb was a painful ordeal.  When I got back to the hotel room, I accidentally dropped one of my gloves on the floor.  I bent over to pick it up . . .

Who lowered this floor???!!!

OMG.  Running had shortened my arms!  I couldn’t reach the glove.  My back was stiff, my glutes were in pain, and my hamstrings acted like they had looked upon the head of Medusa and turned to stone.  I did manage to pick up the glove, but resolved that anything else I dropped would have to be left behind.

After a long shower, I could hardly put my socks on.

Why do we runners do this to ourselves?

I’m going to stick with the insanity defense for now.

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Today I competed in my second Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

PM2016Logo

By “competed,” I mean I tried to 1) finish, 2) without injury or embarrassment, and 3) with a better time than last year.  I managed the trifecta!

With an official time of 1:49:05 (pace=8:19) I came in 1305th place overall, and 51st in my age group (50-54.)  51 years old and I came in 51st.  Kinda cool.  This outpaced last years race with an overall time of 1:50:46 (pace = 8:26) and an overall place of 1802 which put me 72nd in my age group.

I’m not sure how many half marathon runners there were, but let’s just say there were a lot.  I lost count, oh, about 10 yards into the race.  (According to the website, there were 14,127 in the half marathon and 3,681 places in the marathon.)

The weather started out iffy, and it drizzled/rained for the first couple of miles.

RunningRain

IF IT RAINS, YOU RUN.  IF IT THUNDERS, YOU RUN FASTER.

It was actually a little refreshing, but it became a little humid after the rain stopped.   At the last minute,  I switched from a T-shirt to a long sleeved shirt.  Mistake.  Should have trusted my weather.com temperature predictions!  Instead, I looked out the window of my hotel and saw a lot of people wearing long sleeved shirts and light windbreakers.  Psyched myself out.  It’s kind of like reviewing your answers on a test and changing a correct one at the last moment because of second guessing.  Oh well.

I seemed to be the most popular runner.  I kept hearing, over and over again, “GO TODD!”  Now, I did have an ear bud playing music in one ear, and there was a lot of background race noise, so it is slightly possible that these folks were yelling “GOOD JOB!”, but I think they were cheering me on.

One sign read:  “IF TRUMP CAN RUN, SO CAN YOU!”  Thought that was pretty funny right there.

TrumpRun

Not from this race . . . . too much SUN!

Another one said “SHORTCUT” with an arrow pointing away from the main course.  I thought about it, but it seemed a little questionable, especially since the arrow looked like it pointed to a parking lot.  Maybe they offered a shuttle service to the finish line?  Had it pointed to a bar offering free beer, I’d have gone for it.

And, as I passed a group of young women sporting Nittany Lion logos on the back of their tank tops, I said “GO PENN STATE!” as I passed them.  A guy running next to me then yelled, “Penn State!  Let’s hear it.”  So someone else started yelling “WE ARE!”  and a chorus of “PENN STATE!” ensued.  After three cheers, the cheerleader yelled “THANK YOU!” and we all politely responded, “YOU’RE WELCOME!”

Never had that happen in a race before.

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Yesterday I ran a half marathon, which if you don’t already know is 13.1 miles.

Why?

That is a very good question that I wish I could answer without sounding like I’m insane or something.

A marathon is a race consisting of 26.2 miles.  Apparently a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (before cars, rockets and rickshaws) a soldier/messenger ran 26 or so miles non-stop to deliver news that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon.  Apparently, this was also before cell phones, telegraphs and homing pigeons.  The messenger gave the news–“We Won”–before collapsing and dying.

So people that don’t want to collapse and die run a half marathon of 13.1 miles instead.

But why did I run this race?

I am a runner, which means that I put on outfits and expensive colorful shoes that you otherwise wouldn’t wear in public–call it a uniform if you will–and I run around for no apparent reason (as in being chased by a bear, having my hair or clothes on fire, missing a bus, or following the ice cream/beer truck.)  I do this for exercise and because I am mentally unstable loathe weightlifting, swimming, biking, gyms, and pretty much every other form of physical activity beyond golf, bowling, and chess.

The marathon is to the runner what Mt. Everest is to the mountain climber, the World Series is to the baseball player or the all-you-can-eat smorgasbord is to the hungry man.

The half-marathon is a mountain half as high as Everest (too lazy to Google one up), just making the team to the baseball player, and McDonald’s to the hungry man.

This was not about proving anything to myself or the world.  I have already run more than 13 miles in the past.  I already knew I could do it.

I have only run three races before–two 5K’s and a 15K–for various reasons that I couldn’t explain well either.

The main reason I ran this race is that the guy I run with on weekends wanted to run this race–he also does triathlons, but as noted above, I don’t do the cycling or swimming thing.  Since he couldn’t drag me kicking and screaming talk me into a triathlon, he settled on tricking me talking me into a half marathon.  Of course, the week before the race he informs me that he forgot he will be out of town in Las Vegas.  I had already signed up on-line early, so I figured I might as well still run the race.  It was as good a reason as I could come up with.

After the 5K charity races I ran, there were goodies to eat.  Sure, they had some water bottles and bananas, but this is what I was running for:

Lemon-flavored Heaven

Lemon-flavored Heaven

Do you think they had vanilla cream whoopee pies after a half-marathon?  No.  Beer?  NO!  Doughnuts?  A thousand times NO!

I ran 13.1 miles and all I got was a bottle of water, a banana and this shirt:

Half_Marathon

I ran off my legs for this?

In case you are wondering, I ran 13.1 miles in one hour and fifty one minutes and twenty seconds, for an average pace of 8:29.  I finished 67th overall in a crowd of I don’t know how many really young looking people.  Seriously, I think I saw only three people that looked older than me.  They didn’t have the times broken down into age groups, but I figure I must be in the old fart category.  Or maybe the pre-coffin group.

Would it have killed them to have some cream-filled doughnuts alongside the bananas?  I earned a doughnut for God sakes!  My on-line training program calculated that I burned 1667 calories!  I need me some banana-flavored ice cream!  (They did have yogurt, but like biking, I don’t do that.)  They also had some healthy vegetable wraps.  Yeah right.  I just ran half way from Marathon to Athens, and this is my reward?  That’s like a kid at Christmas hoping for a Red Rider BB gun and ending up with some socks instead.

How about some beer?  I’d settle for a light beer.  One little glass.  Personally, I wish they offered beer stops along the way instead of water stations.  I think more people would sign-up for the race (although probably fewer would finish, but is that really a problem?)

The next race I enter better have some doughnuts waiting for me.

 

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