After a substantial hiatus from long-distance racing, I registered for the Empire State Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 21, 2012. This will be my third marathon, but the first with wisdom and the experience gained from two previous attempts.
Many of us, I'm sure, decide to race those 26.2 miles with the goal of qualifying for the storied Boston Marathon. That's a laudable goal for sure, and many of my friend have succeeded at it, multiple times. Alas, I am not one of the lucky ones.
My first marathon experience, Mohawk-Hudson, in 2006, was an exercise in reality (I won't say futility because I did finish, albeit a good 26 minutes off my goal). First marathons teach us a lot about ourselves, our preparation (or lack thereof), our nutrition (or lack thereof), and what we can do better the next time. Turns out, quite a bit.
During the grinding 16-week training regimen I topped out at a long run of 20 miles. I made reservations at the official race hotel, and the literature had said it would be open before the race for breakfast. NOT!
A table with bananas was all I saw, and I nearly stole one I was so desperate for some sort of fuel, but I relented and paid the usurious price of $1.50 for one stinking banana. Thus "fueled," I boarded the bus to the starting line in Schenectady, and prayed for the best.
All went well until mile 17, when the meager nutrients from the banana (and whatever I had eaten the day before) had been depleted and my 8:30 pace fell off a cliff.
So, armed with what I had learned from Marathon No. 1, I began the training cycle in 2007 for the Indianapolis Marathon. My long run that time topped out at 23, and I ordered a pace tattoo, which helps you track where you need to be timewise at each mile. A bonus was that my sister lives in Indy, so it was a built-in vacation. Will and I drove out, I slept like a rock the night before, got up and ate and ate and ate (advantages of staying with a family member). It was an absolutely gorgeous day and I felt great, too great, it turns out. My pace was way too fast for the first half (8-minute miles). My sister Jodie warned me I was ahead of pace, so I tried to slow down, really, I did. Well, at mile 18 I had no choice. I thought I had left that wall in suburban Albany!
Still, I was running so strong up until that point that with a mile to go, I had 7 minutes in which to qualify for Boston. Yeah, right. I finished well, but at 4:03:24, thereby missing Boston by. . . oh, I'd rather not think about it.
Then a series of injuries convinced me to back off the marathons, until this year, that is. With two foot surgeries behind me, an answer for and way to manage a nagging hamstring, and the realization that I likely won't qualify for Boston--and who cares if I don't?--I find myself facing another 26.2 miles.
I have nearly 11 months to train for it, tons of support all around (from family, to running buddies, to co-workers), and the beauty of having to drive 10 minutes (instead of 10 hours) to the starting line on race day.
I'll report on my progress, which will be gradual, as the calendar unfolds. And I can't wait to get going!