Two years ago, I took a leap.
A giant leap. Literally on a whim, I signed up for the Portland Marathon. It was May 2017, I had just finished the annual Pear Blossom Run, an easy 10-mile out and back, for the four straight year, and was looking for something more challenging. Even more challenging than the half marathon (13.1 miles). So I went to the Portland Maraton web site and signed up as the inner voice screamed "what are you doing?"
What I was doing was accepting a huge challenge. Once the credit card number was put in and the registration button was pushed, I was locked in. "Congrats for signing up! We will see you in October." I had months of training, hard-core running that I had never experienced before. When a good friend of mine signed up and trained for a local marathon, he said it was the worst experience he ever went through. And he is a hard-core runner. What was I thinking? I am 6-5, 260+ pounds. I am built more like a defensive tackle than a runner. Only super small people run marathons, right?
Even as I trained through the summer and even when I lined up at the starting line in downtown Portland, the inner voice screamed at me. I ignored it and simply ran. And finished. Then, I signed up for the Eugene Marathon in April 2018. I trained through the coldest months of the year. I trained in driving rain, ice, and snow. I beat myself up worse than I did the summer of 2017 training for the Portland Marathon. My miles added up quickly, too quickly, and I dealt with a sore left knee, bad back and a sore hip. I felt like I peaked too quickly. Even though I felt sensational physically heading into the Eugene Marathon, I also felt like I overtrained maybe a bit. I did finish in 5:28, which was 12 minutes faster than the Portland finish (5:40). So now I am back. But this time I am trying a different training method, one that will build up miles slowly before unleashing in mid February and March. I am also trying a new diet in hopes of maybe coming into the April 28 race lighter. I am about 8 weeks into the training schedule and while my times and splits are way slower than last year, my body feels better. I am heavier than I was a year ago, but the recovery time has been faster. For example, I ran 10 miles in driving rain last Saturday and felt just fine when I was done. Granted, once I reach 12 miles, my body tends to revolt. But I am running my longs runs at a steady pace. A marathon pace. between 11:00 and 11:50 splits. If I can maintain an 11:20 split for 26.2 miles, I will hit my ultimate goal of finishing in under 5:00. How about 12:00? I will come in under 5:20, which would be great for me. In the past, I am strong up until about mile 22, than I fade fast. Yes, I know there are still nearly five miles to go. Those five miles are always the longest. As people who run marathons will attest, the last mile is the longest mile.
But I am super excited and motivated for the Eugene Marathon 2019. Last year, I ran a half of a lap on historic Hayward Field. That was cool. This year, as UO is constructing a new Hayward Field, runners will finish at the 50-yard line of Autzen Stadium, which to me is so much cooler. That is 90% of the reason I will do the Eugene Marathon again. It was a super great run, but the draw was running into Autzen. This will probably be my last Eugene Marathon as I want to run in other cities and experience different marathons before my body finally quits and I can't run anymore. I have had my eye on the San Francisco Marathon, which is at the end of July. My dream weekend would include a San Francisco Giants game on Saturday and the run on Sunday. Giants are out of town that weekend, so I won't be doing the 2019 edition. The reviews are the run is super hilly, but you basically run through the entire city, including the Golden Gate bridge. There is also the Seattle Marathon in November. And perhaps the Avenue of Giants in Humboldt County in May. If I could accomplish my marathon bucket list, which would be 1) Portland, 2) Eugene x2, 3) San Francisco, 4) Seattle, 5) Avenue of Giants, I would be satistifed. That would be six marathons all run in my 40s+. Will I ever qualify for Boston? No. Will I ever run in New York? Maybe, but not holding out hope for that. Will I ever run further than a marathon? No. 26.2 miles is the perfect length for me. It's something I am very proud of. Had you told me even 10 years ago, I would finish two marathons in my 40s, I would have scoffed. Yes, I am late to the running game, but I would hope to inspire people, my children and others who tell themselves "there is no way I could finish a marathon." There is a way. There is always a way.