In November, 2004, I ran a marathon.
But let me back up a few months, and I'll tell you how it came about. I like to run, especially in the hills near my house. My running club sponsored runs every week in these hills, or along the California Aqueduct, as part of an 18-week marathon training program. My bright idea was to just do the training, and forget about doing the marathon, but our leader, Alan, said he wouldn't let me do that. He made me promise him I would run the marathon, or else drop out of the program. So I promised him. Maybe he thought I was just saying that to get him off my back, because he didn't seem convinced. But a promise is a promise, so I signed up for the race, even though I had hurt my leg.
This is really dumb, but I'll tell you about it anyway. Our neighbor, Herman, has a fat little dog, which was waddling after me one beautiful September day, as I was finishing a ten mile run. I was tired, but I felt good. Herman was outside washing his car or something, so I said to the dog, but really for Herman's benefit, "I bet I can run faster than you!" and then I put on a burst of speed up our hill. Something about my first step felt a little odd. I almost fell over because my leg just didn't move forward the way I expected. The next day, I had trouble running, which was unusual for me. I took it easy, but for the next week my leg got progressively worse. I couldn't even run a mile. I didn't know it at the time, but I'm pretty sure I pulled a muscle by trying to put on a sudden burst of speed at the end of my run on September 12. It wasn't until January of the next year -- about three months -- before my leg was back to normal again.
Now, for the marathon itself. It was a perfect day for running. The temperature was in the 50's and it drizzled on an off during the race. I waited about a minute for the serious runners to start, then I crossed the starting line, and ran at about a 10-minute pace.
My legs were killing me, but I made
it across the finish line.
The first ten or twelve miles of the marathon just flew by. It seemed that every time I looked up, I was at another water station. Apparently I was daydreaming between mile markers. This was my favorite part of the marathon. I ran about as well as I expected (4:40, battling sore and tired legs toward the end), but then again, I didn't expect to run very well because of my leg injury, and my lack of training toward the end. Next year I'll do a better job of training (I'll try to be less stupid), and I'll set my expectations just a little higher. I'm really looking forward to running another marathon. In fact, looking at this picture of Margo Hill makes me look forward to just training for another marathon!
"Margo Hill" is the highest point in the section of Ritter Ridge where I run most often for practice, or just for fun.