Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Running a Marathon - Half the story

I will tell only half the story of running a marathon because I will tell you the full story of running a half marathon. So hows one go about running a marathon? As Barney in HIMYM said, “Step one, you start running. There is no step two.” I think I need to elaborate a little more.

I registered for the race after I surprised myself with a rather comfortable 8 mile run with my friend Clare, who is training for a full marathon. A spur of the moment decision led me to register for the twin cities half marathon. Now I needed to set a finish time goal. I felt 2 hours was a challenging as well as a realistic goal. Also a time of 1:59 is so much better than 2:01. So the goal was set.

Next step, training. There is this cool website which allows you to map running routes and keep track of your training sessions. I didn’t have any fancy electronics to keep track of my running speed. I made note of various landmarks and their distances along the route. And I had a watch to check the time. I must confess I wasn’t very regular with my training sessions. Common, how many of us like to wake up at 6am to run for almost 2 hours and then have a long tiring graduate student day ahead? But when I ran my last training run I was fairly confident of achieving my 2hr finish time goal.

Finally it was race day. The Fourth of July. The race began at 6:30am. And within minutes it started to rain. Oh dear, I had not run in the rain before. I thought of the positives. It was cooler and the sun wasn’t out. There would be no need of a shower after the race. I wouldn’t have to stop to drink water. But there were some problems too. My clothes became heavy. My pants started slipping with the weight. My specs fogged up. I didn’t wanna bump into anyone and transfer my precious kinetic energy to them.

As the race wore on, I got used to the conditions. The field also thinned out. I upped my pace a little bit. I couldn’t run too fast as all the streets had speed limits. I puffed my chest when I passed another runner and looked the other way when I was passed. Anyone going slower than me was a moron and anyone going faster was a freak. I stuck to a pace of 8:47/mile for most part.

Finally the finish line was in sight. I was well within two hours. My training had borne fruit. I thought of how great an achievement it was for me and of all the food that awaited me beyond the finish line. And then after nearly two hours, I was done! I can’t imagine how people run a full marathon in about the same time. I don’t think I have the sauce in my ......., knees to do a full marathon.

Finish time: 1:53:50. (winning time 1:13:15)
Ave pace: 8:42/mile
Overall place: 494/2375 finishers