Its that crazy time in Philadelphia when throngs of people converge across the city, to celebrate a bunch of insane people who think it is better to wake up early and run 26.2 miles through the city in the freezing cold. Living here for 18 years, I often laughed at friends of mine who would turn down going out to a party, because they were in training. No drinking, early to bed, because the race was tomorrow. I also would complain that these damn runners were blocking all the roads, making it a nightmare to cross the city on this day. But to be honest, I usually was not even out of my house by time everyone was crossing the finish line.
So you ask, why would I join 30,000 others in this Philly celebration? Running past some of the most iconic parts of Philly; Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Fairmont Park, South Street, Manayunk, and the Art Museum. Why would I put my self through excruciating pain, chance a heart attack, leg injuries, bloody nipples, exhaustion, toenail loss, and rashes in the nether regions of my body? Is this a bucket list thing that just cries out to be done? Perhaps a curiosity as to what is so exciting about running for so long. Or is it the impending realization that I am now old, forty years to be precise, and I need to prove that I still got it? Could be any of the above, but more likely a combination of all three.
For years now I have been stating that I was going to do it, and I would run a half, then get busy, lose interest, be a bit cheap, and just not do it. The day comes around and I am like “Oh, the marathon is today, oops, guess I am not running it this year.” My buddies Mark and John came out one weekend a decade ago for the Broad Street Run. I figured it was going to be a crazy guys weekend, with a lot of drinking, being stupid, and not running a race. It was just an excuse for us to hang out. For John and I, it was. But Mark was serious; he actually bought his ticket for the race months before. He was not going to drink, only wanted to eat pasta, lots of it, and to go to bed early. Boring. John and I looked at him like he was nuts. This guy was serious, shit, guess we are running ten miles tomorrow. So I photo-shopped the race bib, altered the numbers, printed it at Kinkos, and we all ran the next day. It’s my tax dollars that pay for the roads anyway, so I have no problem with people who do this. It was a blast, I was out of shape, but still did pretty good. Mark went on to run two marathons, both of which I told him I would join him in, but never did. But if he can do it, surly I can. So the seed was planted, and it always was on the back of my mind. After years germinating, I got tired of my own bullshit, and just decided to go for it.
This summer was crazy with work projects, restoring old houses. What this really means is I was in the best shape of my life because I spent the summer like a monkey, hanging around and moving scaffolding 40 feet high, stripping, rebuilding, and removing 100-year-old slate. When autumn came around and the scaffolding was down, I was restless, and in need of a new challenge. So I ran Sandy Hook half marathon in New Jersey because it was affordable, unlike most races. I ran it in 1:59. So right then and there I decided I was going to do it. After all, if I can do half, I am sure I can do the full marathon also.
According to just about everyone, 45 days is not enough time to train for a marathon, and they are probably right. But for me, any longer and I would be bored, and probably not follow through. 45 days was the perfect amount of time for me. I read various blogs and articles on training, but really did not stick with any set regiment. I knew I had to increase my distance, starting with 6 mile runs, till I got to a 20 mile run a week or two before the race. It wasn’t easy, pounding the pavement for so many hours. A twenty-mile run for me means literally running straight for 3 ½ hours, no breaks. I have never done anything like that before. It is exhausting, and takes a huge amount of time to do. Hats off to people out there with normal jobs who manage to train and finish the race. I could not imagine spending 40 plus hours a week at the office and running for an additional fifteen hours a week.
So race day is tomorrow, and I have no idea what its will bring. Unless I am injured horribly, I am going to cross the finish line. I guessed my time for the race will be around 4 hours, but now I am thinking that is highly ambitious. I was all excited to try and qualify for Boston or New York, but my friend Steve burst my bubble on that one, stating the times to qualify are 3 hours and 15 minutes. That’s just insane, no way I will be anywhere near that time. So I am back to my normal running mantra, it’s not the time I care about, but just crossing the finish line. This is really just to see if I can do it. I will post my finishing results tomorrow.
So wish me luck!