Several years ago, I ran six marathons in one year.
Why did I run six marathons in one year?
I had a crazy hair-brained idea to run six marathons.
I simply wanted to see if I could do it.
At the time, I knew many marathon runners. There was an esprit de corps among us marathon runners.
We would run together every week. It made the running more enjoyable.
Back then, I really enjoyed running.
Now not so much.
In fact now when I think about running, I start to get a gag reflex.
That’s a story for another day.
There is a phenomenon in marathon running called hitting the wall.
I’ve heard it occurs when the body runs out of a substance called glycogen. I believe glycogen is a fancy word for sugar.
You may have heard that people like to carbo-load before a marathon race.
Many marathon races will have a big pasta dinner the night before the big 26.2 miles running event.
I’ve attended a few of those pasta dinners.
There is a wide range of people that run marathons.
Many people see the marathon as a huge challenge. Most other people think that marathoners have lost their mind.
Let me tell you one thing. You will never have to wonder if someone is running a marathon.
Because that is the only thing, the person will ever talk about.
Most marathon runners can be absolutely boring at a cocktail party because all they talk about is marathon running.
How many miles did you do on your long run this weekend?
I’m looking forward to running.
Please realize when I say most marathon runners, I’m pointing at myself.
At least that was the way I was when I ran marathons.
Truth be told, I didn’t run all 26.2 miles. I did a combination of running and walking.
According to Olympian Jeff Galloway, the best thing for most people is to do intervals of running and walking during a marathon.
The start of a marathon race is like a new adventure. What’s going to happen today?
How long will it take me to finish the race?
I had race jitters.
I believe most of the marathons I ran started around 6:30 in the morning. Which meant I had to wake up around 4:00 or 4:30 so I could get to the start line at least an hour before the race started.
Heaven forbid I spend more than four months training for a marathon, and I show up late.
What a disaster that would be.
The race begins, and I usually get to the halfway point of 13.1 miles, and I’m feeling really good.
I always had a nutrition plan where I had these gel packets that were full of sugar.
Even though the gels were full of sugar, they were miserable to eat.
They usually were the consistency of peanut butter, and I had to drink water to get the entire gel packet down my gullet.
Then I transition to power jelly beans. They were also full of sugar, but they tasted somewhat better.
I had a belt that I wore that had loops that held the jelly bean packets in place while I ran.
I think for each race, I had seven jelly bean packets. I scheduled to eat one jelly bean packet every 3-4 miles during the race.
Everything would be going fine with my running, and that’s when I hit the wall.
I usually hit the wall between miles 16 and 18.
Hitting the wall for me was miserable.
The only thing I wanted to do was quit running.
I’d usually cry while I plugged along.
My legs were tired, and I was mentally drained.
My feet were sore, and I was probably a bit on the dehydrated side of life.
However, I did take great precautions to drink water or some type of sports drink that was being handed out by the race.
Usually, there was a water point every two miles.
While I was going through my hitting the wall phase of the race, I continued to say to myself that I wanted to quit.
The last marathon race I ran was the Grandfather Mountain Marathon.
That was by far the biggest bonehead running decision I’ve made in my lifetime.
I hit the wall around mile 13.
The Grandfather Mountain Marathon is a race for masochists.
I believe 80% of the race is uphill.
I mean you just keep going uphill and uphill.
It never ends.
And then it finally ends.
There I am at the hitting the wall phase again, and I want to quit.
I’m crying because I just don’t want to go any further.
But I keep going. I’m walking slowly at this point in the race.
One foot in front of the other foot.
Step. Step. Step. Step.
Step. Step. Step. Step.
Hitting the wall is always the darkest point in the marathon race for me.
It just is rotten.
However, I keep moving forward.
One foot in front of the other.
Then I’m at mile 24 — 2.2 more miles to go.
Sometimes I would give myself a goal to run or rather jog for a quarter-mile.
At this point, I really don’t care about how long it’s going to take me to finish the race.
I start doing mental math.
At my prime, I averaged about 10 minutes 30 second for each mile I ran.
I look at my watch and say OK I can just run my average pace for two more miles I’ll be done with this stupid race in twenty minutes.
That usually lasted for a quarter a mile.
Then I say to myself by walking I’m averaging 14 minutes 30 seconds per mile.
I think I would rather walk and have it take me an extra ten minutes than endure another two miles of running.
As I get closer to the finish line, I see more people.
Some people are holding up signs cheering on the runners.
They’re yelling. Keep going!! You’re almost there.
I’m feeling pretty wiped out. I just want to finish this race and get off of my feet.
Then I see it.
The finish line.
I try to run, and then I walk.
100 meters to go, and I’ll run it out strong.
I cross the finish line, and this torturous journey is over.
I’m depleted, but at least I finished.
Do you know what they call the first person to cross the finish line?
A marathon runner.
Do you know what they call the last person to cross the finish line?
A marathon runner.
Everyone who finishes the race gets a medal.
I still have every medal from every marathon I ran.
I learned a great lesson from running marathons that has served me well for many other areas of my life.
The secret to finishing a marathon is to put one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles.