has finally arrived, and after several months
of training you are anxious to get going. You wake up
early, even though it was a bit of a restless night.
After a cup of coffee and a slice of toast you get ready
and head for the starting area. It’s a cool morning and
as you look around at the other runners you notice a
wide assortment of gear. From shorts & singlets to long
pants and sweatshirts. Some folks are wearing a plastic
bag over their running clothes to ward off the early
Finally the starting ceremony is over, and everyone
shuffles forward. The pace is slow at first as the front
of the pack gradually gets going. With the race chip on
your shoe however, you are assured of a correct time
once you reach the actual start line.
the first mile gets underway you feel quite good, but
deliberately keep the pace a little slower than your
intended average pace.
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You pass mile one about 30
seconds over which is OK – there is plenty of time to
make that up.
Your goal is to run the second half faster than
the first, and finish as comfortably as
You pass a group of people
carrying a balloon with ‘4½
HOURS’ written on it, - 50
minutes over your own target
time. “I hope I don’t see them
again,” you think! The sun has
risen higher and the temperature
is climbing. You’re glad you
opted for shorts and singlet.
The second water stop appears
and you slow down for a quick
drink even though you are not
You settle into a steady pace and soon the 3-mile mark
comes up. You check your watch and see you are about 1
minute over your average pace time. You drove over the
course yesterday, and remember there is a hill just
after the 3-mile mark. Here it is – and it feels a
little steeper than it did in the car. Longer too!
“It’s getting warm already” you say to the guy running
next to you.
“Maybe it’ll rain”! He replies.
You both laugh since it’s a clear blue sky above. You
chat for a while and the next few miles go by easily.
Before you know it, the 6-mile mark comes up. Wow – only
20 (.2) miles left, you think.
Your companion drops back a little as you continue at
your pace. You are still about one minute slower than
your pace time at the 6-mile mark. You notice a lot of
people chatting to each other as they run. At this stage
of the race everyone is still feeling good! Spectators
along the route clap and shout words of encouragement as
you go by. It all helps!
The race route wanders through an old neighborhood full
of large houses and treed lawns. The shade is welcome.
The miles don’t seem to go by quite as quickly as they
did earlier. You’re looking for the 10-mile mark –
there’s a water stop ahead and the 10-mile point is just
past that. You check your time – still about a minute
over. Oh well, you think, that’s OK.
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Your next goal is the halfway mark. You think about all
the training you have done, so getting to the half
should be no problem. It seems to be taking a long time
to get there however. Finally you see the halfway water
stop. You walk through, enjoying the water and the break
from running. At least the miles go down from here on,
13, 10, 6…
You are beginning to feel the effect of the miles, but
it’s not too bad so far.
You talk to some of your fellow runners as you go along.
Their previous marathon experiences are interesting to
hear. 16 miles!! You’d been so busy talking you missed
the 15 mile mark. You now feel you can finish the race
without too many problems. You decide to pick up the
pace a little to try and get back to your target time.
You pull away from the group as you go up a slight
Near mile 18 things are starting to get a little tough.
You go up a short but steep hill, and feel like walking.
Your energy seems to be getting low. At the next water
stop you take some Gatorade instead of water. The sugar
tastes good! You take a brief walk break and concentrate
on getting to the 20 mile mark. Another runner pulls
alongside, and you run together without saying much
beyond ‘Hi’. At last the 20-mile mark comes up.
your surprise, you have made up the minute you were
behind, and are actually a little under your target
time. Encouraged by this you press on. You come to an
incline that feels way steeper than it really is. Your
companion pulls away as you struggle a little. Then you
come to a downhill stretch and are able to lengthen your
stride as you go down. It feels good after that last
hill. Mile 21 comes up – the miles are definitely going
slower at this point. Another shot of Gatorade and you
Only 5 more miles you think, and settle back into a
comfortable pace. The weak spot you hit back at miles 18
and 19 seems to have passed. You keep going and reach
mile 23, the end of the race definitely feels close. You
keep to your pace, and try to think about other things
than your weary legs.
“Looking good – only 2 more miles” you hear. You are
feeling tired now but being so close you keep running.
You catch up with the person you were running with a
little earlier. You exchange a few words and run on
together. At mile 25 your fellow runner takes off – you
don’t even try to keep up. Your focus is on getting
through the last mile. The temperature is much warmer
now and you are feeling thirsty even though you have
taken a drink at most of the water stops.
Mile 26!! You made it you say to yourself, and start to
run a little quicker. The last 0.2 miles seems long
though, finally you see the finish banner up ahead. Lots
of people are along the route. “Good run” they say. Your
name is called over the PA system as you approach the
finish line. You notice the time – 1 minute faster than
your goal. You have run the second half faster than the
the finish chute you meet up with your last companion.
“Great run’, you say to each other. It feels really good
to have completed the race without seriously ‘hitting
the wall’. You pick up your medal and head off to enjoy
some of the fresh fruit in the finish area. As you
relax, you’re already thinking about the next marathon,
and maybe cutting a few minutes off the time…