|Columbia, SC State House|
So I travelled to Columbia, SC last weekend for my sixteenth full marathon. Yep, sixteen of them in the books. One might wonder if doing so many marathons would get boring, or if I might be a bit crazy. The answer, at least in my mind, is a resounding no. Four years ago when I started this journey I never thought I would complete one marathon, much less sixteen. Each one I do teaches me a new lesson and reminds me of how blessed I am to be able to even run a single mile. Running, especially distance running, has changed who I am and how I view the world around me.
In my opinion, a marathon teaches you a lesson each step that you take. It teaches you so many life lessons. The main lesson I have learned from running marathons is that you should never give up. When it looks and feels like you cannot take another step, you can. When you are at mile 20 and your mind tells you that you could not possibly do six more, you can. Another lesson that running full marathons has taught me is that we spend too much time with "noise" around us. We take no time to sort things out in our minds. We are easily amused, which actually means to "not think", by televisions and so many other distractions. We never take time to think about life and what it is teaching us. We never take time to just be quiet and listen. Distance running has taught me that just getting out and getting alone makes a world of difference. Many times I run for miles with no music, no conversation, and no outside distractions. It has changed me.
This marathon was no different. It taught me lessons. The main lesson this time was that no matter how confident we get and no matter how prepared with think we may be, the marathon reminds us that it is still a tough feat to run 26.2 miles and sometimes, it beats us.
|Suzy, Brian, and Me.|
The weather was beautiful for the race. It was a bit cold at the start but it warmed up nicely. As a matter of fact, I was overdressed for the last half. I had to roll my sleeves up as I got hot. Overall though, it was sunny, not windy, and about perfect temperatures. As I do most times, I ran this marathon with some great friends. For this race, both Suzy Spiceland and Brian Mount were in Columbia with me. Both are members of the Anniston Runners Club and represent the club well. The three of us met up with the Marathon Maniacs for the group picture. Here we are just after the group photo on the steps of the State House in Columbia. I was also blessed to be able to stay with a friend in Columbia, Patrick Cleary. I met Patrick through his Dad, Tim. Patrick and I ran the Disney Marathon together in 2012. It's awesome how I have met so many amazing people through running. Tim and I met in Chattanooga and have been good running friends since. Thanks Patrick for letting me stay with you and for being so hospitable.
As I began the race I had the goal of 3:45 as my finish time. That time would have been a six minute PR. This double loop course had other plans for me this day though. I felt great as the race began. My heart rate settled down nicely and I was running at a very nice pace of about 8:10 per mile. As I made a turn up a hill at about mile 2.3 I hit a raised spot on the pavement and turned my left ankle. When it happened it was as if everything was in slow motion. I felt it roll and thought to myself that I was going to have to drop out. It rolled that bad. As I regained my balance I realized that my ankle itself wasn't hurting. Only the outside of my foot where it hit the pavement pretty hard. I credit the lack of pain in my ankle to the fact that I have pretty much no ligaments on the outside of my left ankle from football, baseball, and softball injuries. It took me a bit to get everything back under control and begin to asses what I needed to do. After a few miles the pain went away but as I realized later, I was favoring the ankle a good bit.
This marathon was another hilly adventure. The great thing about hills is that there is always a downhill. The problem is that in this one, the last two miles of the loop were a huge hill that just flattened into the finish. I kept a solid pace on the first loop as I climbed it. For anyone who has run the Georgia Publix Marathon, the hill reminded me of the one at mile 23 there, just longer! I made the turn at about a minute half marathon PR time. I still felt confident in my 3:45.
Another lesson that I am still learning is how to pace correctly with my relatively new HR training. I am being too conservative on the second half of these marathons and I have too much left in the tank at the finish. Even though my ankle bothered me on the last half, I still had a good bit left at the end. The rolling neighborhoods on the second loop were not that hard. I felt strong but I started thinking about that hill at mile 24 and backed off on my pace. I took the hills slower and kept my heart rate down when I could. I even had a conversation with a Marathon Maniac at mile 21 about my pace. He asked me flat out why I was slowing down because I looked too strong to slow down. I told him I was conserving for the big hill and he laughed and told me that I would be fine. I wish I had listened. I slowed down too much and it cost me in time.
The finish was in a cool spot. You ran down the main street in downtown Columbia which was lined by a farmers market. All of the people were very supportive as they cheered us into the finish. I crossed the finish line relatively strong at the clock time of 3:51:02, a minute PR. I was disappointed in my performance and tried to beat myself up about it. Patrick quickly reminded me that I had just finished 26.2 miles in less than four hours. Not many runners can claim that accomplishment. I was pleasantly surprise when my official time posted at 3:50:25 which was a 1:20 PR!
As I drove home that afternoon, I thought about my race and what I could have done differently. Could I have run harder? What if I had turned my ankle? What if? What if? I came to the realization that "I did". I finished another marathon. Sixteen of them. I still have to pinch myself as I look at my medal display each day. I'm a marathoner and the great thing is that I lived to run another day. April 27th is the next day I challenge 26.2 miles again. We will see what the future holds!
Smart training, great nutrition, and amazing supplements have been a huge advantage for me. I am doing heart rate training now with PRS Fit and Coach Glenn McDaniel. You can find out more about them at www.prsfit.com. I use Advocare Supplements and wouldn't do a workout without them. To find out more about them visit www.mrhump.net.
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