My first marathon
I remember my first marathon as if I ran it yesterday.
I competed on my track and field team for four years while competing for Indian Creek High School in Wintersville, Ohio and never had I ever considered running the marathon distance in those four years.
You get set in on the distance you think you will eventually run and are too caught up to think of anything further.
Of course, the 1600m and 3200m runs were my love events.
I started running the 1600m as a freshman in high school running my first in 5.30 as a freshman and graduating high school with a 4.24 personal best.
The 3200m was my favorite event.
I began with an 11.30 time my freshman year and ironically finished both my junior and senior years with a 9.46 personal best.
Running for 26.2 miles is something I never thought I would do.
It was crazy.
Marathoning was never in the question.
I joined the Army in 2002 for many reasons.
One being after graduating from Malone University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education, the job opportunities I had in Canton, Ohio at the time were slim.
Substitute teaching and getting payed minimum wage with a college degree just didn’t seem to be worthy of all the time and effort I put in to finishing college.
I chose to do something challenging and join the Army.
Early College Days
I competed for one of the top NCAA Division II teams in the country under the tutelage of Jack Hazen.
Jack has been just named to be the head distance running coach for the 2012 USA Mens and Women’s Olympic Distance Running team and I am extremely proud to have been coached by him for 5 years.
I listened to him and Joe Vigil for years, reading everything I could about how to be a better distance runner and marveled over the fact that there were runners out there running for 26.2 miles. The thought of running for that long, too me, at the time…was ridiculous….
…..until I tried it for the first time.
If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.-Tim Ferriss
Obviously, I am a huge fan of Tim Ferriss so you will see me reference him quite a bit on rundreamachieve.com.
Everyone can do what is easy
Easy tasks are just that, easy. You can do them without thought, almost on autopilot. Running the 1600m and 3200m in high school was a challenge but compared to the marathon they are easy events. Your done with the race in a few minutes.
My first marathon attempt was the 2002 New York City Marathon.
Check out my finish time and net time I ran my first marathon (including countless stops along the way to get to the finish line) in 2.51.24 but my overall net time (the time I actually ran) was 2.43.36.
I was still a part of my first military unit at Fort Carson back then and was asked by the sports specialist of the Army World Class Athlete Program if I wanted to be a part of this team going to New York City.
The longest I had ever run was 18 miles and that was training for the Army Ten-Miler that I had just recently ran in October of 2002.
I had run a then-PR of 53.12.
It was a sufficient enough time to get a sniff from the top athletic unit in the Army so I accepted the offer.
- The importance of fueling Do NOT make the mistake I made (and continued to make all the way up to 2010) in thinking drinking the equivalent of a small glass of water for the entire distance is sufficient fluid intake. Your in for a rude awakening if you do.
- 26.2 miles is certainly not the 1600m and 3200m events I ran in high school. It was far more difficult then I ever imagined
- The New York City Marathon has probably the best crowd support I have ever seen in a marathon. I have run about 15 marathons to date and the experience I have from that first attempt I’ll never forget.
- Take your time and don’t try to make up distance in one mile. If your off 10 seconds one mile don’t try to run 20 seconds faster the next.
- I should have never shied away from running the distance for so long. I was 25 at the time, possibly the best age to run your first marathon but wish I could have gave it a shot a couple years earlier
- Take in more calories…I was walking and jogging the last 10 miles of the race and this happened from not taking in enough sugar and fluid to replace what I was losing in the race effort
Fortunately, having to wait until every runner had crossed the finish line before we were permitted to start was a blessing in that I didn’t have the opportunity to run too fast the first mile.
What was my first mile? 16.01! Yeah, I was cruising. I spent the first 7 miles running through a sea of people. I had no idea what I was doing, how fast I could run, considering the start position (32,189th place!).
Always push to do something you have never done, you’ll never know unless you give it a shot.
- Finished as the top military member on the team
- Went from 32,189th place to finish in 253rd place
- Raised a butt load of $$ for Lung Cancer Research (Chase Manhattan Bank donated $1 for every runner I passed)
- Finished my debut marathon in 2.43.36 starting in last place
I have thoroughly enjoyed the marathon ever since.
Testing the will
The greatest thing about competing in a race of this length is it proves just how much the human body can withstand.
It took five more years to go from 2.43 to run under 2.20 but my debut attempt at the distance will be one I will never forget.
Where was your first marathon? Willing to leave a comment and tell me how your race went?