Poignant Irrelevance

Monday, October 02, 2006

Marathon, Second Time Around

The last few miles of a marathon could be some of the worst pain you'll ever feel. Your aching, sweating, weather-beaten body is depleted of glycogen and screaming at you to stop moving immediately. You're running on guts. On fumes. Your muscles twitch. You throw up. You're delirious. But you keep running because there's no way out of this hell you're in, because there's no way you're not crossing the finish line. It's a misery that non-runners don't understand.
- Martine Costello
i grabbed that quote from marisa. it seemed fitting, i hope she doesn't mind me swiping it.

With over 16 miles under my belt and less than 10 miles to the finish, I was running in front of the 4:15 pace group. I still felt great. I could hear the pace leader shouting things to her group (describing the landscape of the upcoming mile, etc), and a few minutes later I could no longer decipher what she was saying because I had continued to move ahead of them ever so slightly. Also, I crossed the starting line several minutes behind this group so I was moving along at a decent pace.

Over the last 24 hours, I have replayed the aforementioned circumstances over and over in my mind. I guess I did not run a smart race? My long runs--18 to 23 miles-- were 10:00 or slightly faster so I assumed 9:50 should not have been a problem. Plus I felt fine up until 18-20.

That is the mystique of the marathon for the amateur runner. That is the beauty of it! It’s a beast that is difficult to prepare for, and its difficult to adapt to the changing variables even during the actual race. And that is why I love it. It is such a great physical and mental challenge.

The night before the race I slept ok, not great, but ok. Around 7:20AM, my mom, sis, and gf dropped me off a few blocks from the metrodome. I made my way over to the starting area wondering how the day would unfold.

I walked several blocks toward the starting area alone, alone like I was during all of my 400+ miles of training. Those solemn miles of training, strategizing, planning...the result of everything I had done over the last four months would begin to materialize in less than half an hour. After dropping off my sweats bag, I moseyed on over to the porta-potty area and stood in line to relieve myself (only #1 this time, ha ha)...and then walked over to the start with about 10 minutes to spare.

8,000+ of us were packed in like sardines. I said a little prayer as I mentally prepared for that which was before me. I looked up and noticed a girl had written parts of Hebrews 12:1-2 on the back of her shirt (on her pace bib). she had it written exactly like this:

...let us run
with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus...

Wow, Amen! I don’t remember reading this verse ever but it seemed so fitting. I felt excited, yet at peace. Here we go! lets have fun today, I thought to myself.

For the next 60 to 70 minutes I could not believe how great I was feeling. The race seemed to be going by so quickly. Getting out of downtown, Isles, Calhoun, Harriet, they were almost a total blur as I motored through the miles.

Within no time (and seemingly no energy), I was on mile 6 and looking forward to seeing my mom, sis, and gf cheering for me, somewhere between 7 and 8.

However, the roads were so packed with runners near Harriet! Wall to wall. It was virtually impossible to pass people, and the crowd support was crazy!!!!

The crowd support this year was so amazing. People were so LOUD and enthusiastic along (almost) the entire course. it was great. You know how when your favorite running song comes on during a race or a training run, and you start to feel shivers of adrenaline shoot up the back of your neck all the way up to the top of your head?? Wow, I had a lot of these moments in the first half of the race in particular. The spectators were going nuts.

One time this guy that was running next to me even said, “I feel like a rock star!”. Seriously, we all felt like rock stars out there. It was amazing dudes. That is what its all about; I will never forget those rock star moments. The fans and neighbors of the course were outstanding.

It was so crowded that I didn’t see any of my personal cheering section at 7, or 8, or 9.

In terms of the gu situation, I waited to take my first gu at mile 9, instead of 7 because my pacing was a bit quicker.

My dad was somewhere around 10-11. He shouted my name, and cheered. Cool! That was great. I think he ran for a little while next to me in the grass, pointing his camera for as long has he could go. heh. I pumped my fist several times and marched forward. Bring it on!

Starting around miles 11 – 12, the arch of my left foot began to feel like it was pinching. I just assumed it would eventually go away. By now you’ve probably witnessed the picture of my blister that continued to grow over the next few hours. Bummer!

Also occuring at mile 12: 1) a dude took some vaseline and openly smeared it all over his crotch area, and 2) one girl was chattering away with her mom on her cell phone, trying explain her whereabouts, "yes mom, we just passed xzy street. no MOM! we just passed xyz street!! mom! i have to go!!" heh. i was glad she hung up, she was getting on my nerves.

I saw my bro and his family between 13 and 14, as we turned the corner to go up Minnehaha parkway. He shouted my name and cheered! It was cool-- I wasn’t sure where I would see his family on the course so it was a nice surprise to have my own fan support by nokomis!! That helped me power up the last part of that hill.

Between 14 and 15, I saw my gf and sister cheering! My gf asked me if I needed anything. I shouted, “do you have any bodyglide?” she said yes so I peeled off the course. I took off my shoe to assess the damage and apply bodyglide to the arch of my foot. I was surprised to see the blister. Then I had a few gulps of water and jumped back on the course (this all only took about 1 minute).

I think I took my last gu around 15, but I can’t remember exactly. It didn’t go down so well, therefore I knew it would be my last gu of the day. I relied on powerade, water, orange slices, a couple Swedish fish, and one tootsie roll for the rest of the way. Heh. People hand out the most random things. The orange slices will always be my favorite race day treat though.

I started to feel hot near mile 17 (around 11:00AM?). It was right around here that the 4:15 pace group essentially blew by me. I didn’t have the strength to try to keep up with them. Maybe I should have pushed myself more. Dangit! I felt things slipping away. I was ahead of my goal pace, but my splits were deteriorating by the mile.

at all the remaining water stops i started pouring some water on top of my head to try to keep cool.

I saw my bro and his family cheering again, right after (or before?) the 20 mile wall. awesome!! They gave me a couple band-aids for my blister but I didn’t end up using them. I didn’t want to spend the energy to put them on. I should mention that compared to last year, I still felt immensely better. The “wall” didn’t seem like a big deal but because I knew I was falling behind my goal pace, I was a little discouraged nonetheless.

I saw my sister, mom, and gf again around mile 21. nice! I didn’t expect to see them here so that was another nice surprise! I had some more gulps of water and told them that I was starting to get a little tired and that i was slowing down, or something to that effect. They cheered enthusiastically and looked upbeat! But later, my sister would tell me that she felt bad for me because she knew I was getting off my goal pace (she knew i would be bummed out about it later).

Between 22 and 23 my knee crapped out. It was painful to bend it, even while walking. Crap! As soon as my knee started to hurt, I saw my dad again. Perfect timing. He was very encouraging and shouting that I would soon have two medals! My passing thoughts of, “will I have to quit right here?” immediately vanished. I WILL get medal #2 today, I will get it.

Miles 22 and 23 were my slowest of the day, clocking in around 14:00 / mile.

Around 23 I saw a friend from work with his gf. They made a big sign with my name on it and were cheering like mad!!! Ha ha, that was awesome. I was grinning from ear to ear.

Stupid summit ave seemed to take forever once again (miles 22-25+). Even though I tried to mentally prepare for what I knew it was going to be like, it still seemed endless! Stupid summit ave! I jogged until my knee pain was bad, then walked until it seemed better, repeat, repeat.

25.2: the Target tunnel! Sponsored by Target, it was a little tube/tunnel (eg those things the football players run through when going from the locker room to the field during a playoff game or something) with music blaring. But mainly this meant there was only 1 mile left. I was so relieved.

I turned the corner and then down the hill I went, toward the capital. Down toward the finish line! Oh baby, I wanted to finish the race so badly at this point.

My brother shouted encouragement right near the finishing line and that spurred me on to run as strong as I could through the finish. I think I even gave a final fist pump or two as I ran through the finish line.

Oh the sweet, sweet finish line! 4:38 later.

This wasn’t my year to keep up with the 4:15 group, but I fought and fought until I couldn’t hang on anymore. I learned a little bit more about myself, my conditioning, and this beast we call the marathon. The mystical race that seems to grab hold and never let go.

Most of all, I am so lucky to have a great group of family and friends cheering me on in everyday life AND during the marathon. thanks to all the volunteers, fans, runners, EMTs, friends, family, RBFers and non-RBF bloggers, and my wonderful gf.

a few pictures coming soon.


  • You are one inspiring runner ... I loved reading about your experience, and the wonderful support network that surrounds you. Kudos to you, you second-timer, you. Awesome job!

    By Anonymous beverly, at 12:33 AM  

  • This is so exciting - your perseverence is incredible. I'm trying to figure out your chart - am I correct that you are going TOTALLY UPHILL for the last five miles?? That's a cruel trick to pull on a runner!

    I can't wait for the next one.

    By Blogger M@rla, at 6:48 AM  

  • You rock, congrats. that was the biggest blister I've ever seen!
    great race report
    woo hoo

    By Blogger Running from my House, at 8:23 AM  

  • Yay! What a great job hanging in there with that awful blister! I don't know how you did it. I would have caved after I took my shoe off at mile 11. Sounds like your family & friends were awesome fans too. Your report has me psyched for my big 20 mile run this weekend...

    By Blogger Helen, at 10:50 AM  

  • Nice job on your race report. It's a great reminder of the guts and mental and physical pain tolerance a runner has to have to finish!

    By Blogger D, at 3:03 PM  

  • Wow, what a report! Cognrats!

    By Blogger Jank, at 4:50 PM  

  • Great report, I felt like I was running along with you.

    By Blogger Jack, at 7:09 AM  

  • Great race and report, Brent.

    Oh no, you looked at the blister during the race? I think I would've passed out!

    Of course I don't mind you "swiping" the quote, I swiped it from somewhere I can't even remember. It's a cool quote.

    I knew TCM had some hills at the end, but not being familiar with the area I didn't realize how bad until seeing your Polar graph.

    By Blogger mg, at 9:43 PM  

  • Great race report and great job this year! That's a huge improvement over last year!!

    By Blogger Rae, at 6:14 AM  

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