Well, Leah and I finally did it. We first talked about running a marathon about five years ago and ran the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving in 2003. At the time I decided that was far enough to run as the 2:07 it took us to finish felt absolutely brutal. Up until that time the greatest distance I had run was probably around 8 miles or so and 13.1 miles felt like a real accomplishment.
After living here in Durham for the past year Leah and I found ourselves running more and more as the local mountain biking left much to be desired. Plus the weather is great for running outside pretty much year round (except a few weeks during the summer) so we decided to pull the trigger. Actually Leah did all the work, signing us up for the race, building our training plan, etc.
So we finished the Richmond Marathon on Saturday in 3:50 which was well under the 4 hour goal we set for ourselves. Amazingly our half marathon split during the race exactly matched our second half time. The last 4-5 miles were, in my opinion, the worst miles I have ever run in my life. The most disappointing part of the race came in the last quarter mile when I started getting cramps in the back of my legs, then my calves. It was pretty ridiculous too because the steepest part of the course was in the last quarter mile and it was all downhill. I suppose for some this is a nice psychological reward since downhill should be easy. However, anyone who has done any amount of running will tell you that downhill is usually the hardest on your muscles as you contract your legs to brake yourself down the hill. Anyway, I had to stop at least once or twice in that last quarter just to stretch and I ended up running the final 10 yards or so with a cramped calf that forced me to run with my right toe pointed outward.
The training was time consuming, although not too difficult. Some of our early “long runs” were difficult but that might have been due to the extreme heat during August and September. The weather in Richmond was great, seemed like it was in the 50s most of the time we were running. The course was good too, very flat with a few reasonable hills sprinkled here and there. I’m glad we did the marathon and I’m also glad it’s over with. Now it’s time to pay more attention to our lonely mountain and road bikes 😉