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Long distance runner

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Clearly too cheap to pay for photos

That title is a weak bridge from my last post, obvious only to the most diehard Dead fans, I suppose. It seemed necessary to post something here before decided this blog had been abandoned and deleted it.

A few weeks ago, I ran my first marathon. Why did I do this? Part of me is still wondering about that, but most of it has to do with setting goals and challenging oneself. Also, J has dreamed for years of running a marathon and not done it yet, so I hope by blazing the trail I can light a small fire under her motivation.

I also happened to have a window where I had no teaching obligations. Sure, I had a ton of other work to do, but everyone has free time and I needed something to fill mine while living far from home and away from my usual time filling activities such as gardening, cycling, house repairs, UU activities, etc. Marathon training fit the bill.

Next I had to find a marathon in late September or early October. The obvious choices were either Bremen or Cologne, but the Cologne marathon is larger, and running with crowds in front of crowds is supposed to help with motivation (it does). Plus, I spent a year in Bremen, and using the words October and Bremen in the same sentence brings to mind visions of being wet to the undies and cold to the bone. Yuck. As it turned out, the weather in Cologne wasn’t exactly fab, but it only rained for about ten minutes, and the sun even made an appearance for the better part of an hour.

Running 26.2 miles takes a long time. When you do it in kilometers, it seems even longer, because 42 is a big number. On the other hand, you knock out the Ks faster, so maybe it is a wash. At any rate, it starts to hurt at some point, and around 36K it was like I lost fifth gear in my transmission. I could maintain my pace fine, but acceleration left the building.

I had trained like a laser–always timing myself and carefully measuring my distances, a rare moment of such athletic exactness for me–and got to the point that I can run a mile or kilometer and more or less tell within ± five seconds how fast I went. Doing the math, I knew that if I ran just a tad under five minutes per kilometer, a 3:30 marathon was possible. Ran that pace in my longer training runs and didn’t die, either, so felt optimistic.

Ended up with a 3:31:22, which over that distance counts for me as pretty much dead on target, so was very satisfied. Good to know that one can dole out one’s energy over such long distance with some degree of control.

Not sure I am eager to run another one anytime soon, although J and I are tossing around running one next June with me as her pacer, but am pretty glad to have figured out how one does such things without injury or drama. Had always wondered what it felt like, too, to run that far.

Written by Dale

October 27, 2009 at 10:28 am

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