The Maine Marathon
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Running a marathon was on my list of things to do before I turned thirty. It did not get done in time. And while I do enjoy running, I would likely have allowed this goal to continue go unchecked if I had not learned about the St. Jude Heroes program.
While my fundraising campaign was hugely successful, I cannot say the same for my results in the marathon. I have never finished a race at the end of the pack before, but since I had abandoned my pride somewhere around mile twenty, it didn't hurt nearly as much as you might think. After running at a steady nine-minute mile pace and feeling good for about eighteen miles, my knees and hips, which first felt a twinge of pain in mile six, suddenly decided to punish me. Shortly after that, I became overwhelmed with nausea, which worsened after I left the protection of the brilliant maple trees of Route 88 and stepped into the bright October sun on Route 1.
It is true that a marathon can teach those who listen some valuable life lessons. If I had been more patient earlier in the race, and stopped to stretch and rest my sore muscles instead of pushing through the pain, they probably would have allowed me to keep running. Instead, I neglected them and in the end they worked in combination with my stomach to render me nearly incapacitated in the last six long miles of the marathon. I began the race acknowledging that since I had not stuck to my training schedule in the final weeks, I might have to walk some. I never thought that just putting one foot in front of the other could become a challenge for me. This was extremely humbling.
While my time was quite disappointing, I am still grateful for the experience. I met several interesting people over the course the race. One man from West Virginia, who I ran with for a short time, was documenting his first experience in Maine with a disposable camera; as I watched him stop to capture the scenery I was reminded how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful place. Some time around mile eighteen I ran with a small group of runners, including an 85-year-old man who was running his 116th marathon. It did not take them long to leave me far behind. And while I can say with complete certainly that I will never run my 116th marathon, I still may run my second.
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