Part 4: The Marathon

The Miami Marathon, January 31st, 2010
For the entire week before the marathon, I ate alot of carbohydrates. They usually refer to this as “carb loading”. The idea is to have enough energy stocked up from complex carbs in the blood and muscles, so it will make everything easier and possible. I was in. I ate alot of breads and pasta and rice, especially the night before. The day before I went to the convention to pick up the packet and there was alot going on inside. It was like the old video game conventions I went to only SURPRISE! They had to do with running. So, I walked around and picked up all the free shwag I could. It was fun!

The night before the Miami Marathon, I had planned on going to bed early, as to not be tired the following day. I got everything ready before sleep, including getting that bib number on the shirt, which was not easy for the first time. I also had to put this thingy on my shoe laces that was a computer chip that looked more like an outpatient band from a hospital. This is how they keep track of our times. Times? Yeah, I hadn’t really thought of that. I know I had like 6-7 hours to finish is all. That’s the goal I guess!

I awoke super early so i could grab a bite to eat and allow my Aunt to drive me to the train station. I’d never been on the train in Miami, so it was fun, in all it’s stress of time. As I road to the race, others were getting on with their racing outfits on. Some were cyborgs (those all hooked up uh huh huh with ipods, heart monitors, calorie counters, the works), others were really happy to have their shiny new shoes on, ready to conquer the world! Most were slightly nervous though, which was obvious by their constant talking or fidgeting and ‘where am I going’ facial expressions.

Game Time
As we got there, the flocks of people swarmed out of the train, and I followed them. I knew I wouldn’t have to figure out how to get anywhere now, which was nice. As we neared the starting line, which was near the Miami Heat stadium down town, there were alot of people. Like, huge amounts. It still being dark, it ended up being near 20,000 runners plus. That dwarfed the Turkey Trot. I had got my wish of running with alot of people 4 fold. I stretched, went to the Johny on the Spot, and headed towards the starting line and my heat I was to wait with.

And We Are…
BOOM the speaker goes, signalling the beginning. We are off! Well, kinda. After some words from the announcer, they had a ‘soft’ start for the super speed wheel chairs and then it was time for the runners. Elites at the front, the signal went off and everyone else waited as their heat would systematically be allowed to go. It took 15 minutes for my heat to get to the starting line. Talk about some anxious waiting. Nonetheless, it’s time to run!

I learned from the Turkey Trot that I needed to start slower. In that race, I went fast from the beginning, sticking with people that were faster than I. I lucked out in that race though, as it wasn’t long enough for me to get too tired, being a 10k (6 miles ish). On retrospect, I was probably going more my proper speed than I have since, but it isn’t as comfortable. I also tried to get away from people in that race, doing stupid things that could have hurt me or someone else. I remembered I had jumped across a guy to clear him, not only being disrespectful but also just idiotic, missing him by inches. But lesson learned, I was to take my sweet ass time and not fall victim to feeling I should keep up with anyone. Easier said than done!

Hill Advice
Right from the start there was a big hill. I ran up the hill, one of the only two hills, give or take, in the entire race. I learned in this marathon that sometimes hills are not worth running at all. I mean, if you run you save like maybe a couple to a few minutes, but for what? A potentially immense amount of energy. But I was the stubborn beginner. I was going to try and run the entire race, no walking allowed. I have no idea why that was in my mind then, but the more I talk to people planning on running or having just started, they all seem to really care about not walking at all. Like it reflects them or something. Well, I’m going to tell you now that it is lame to think that way. Alot of things in a long distance race are an investment. You will want it as easy as possible. If you have a hill and have any doubts, just walk! You’ll likely be faster in the long run (PUN).

On the Same Team, Power Shakers, and Take Your Excuses and Shove Them Up Your Ass
Anyways, I continued on the entire race, staying pretty steady. All in all I didn’t change my pace throughout the entire race, according to the final time of 4:57. With a slow pace of 11:21 minutes per mile, I never pushed it. The big surprise of this race was that I had alot of lengthy conversations throughout the entire run. I didn’t know this was commonplace in these kinds of running. I met alot of cool people that day because of this. It was an amazing camaraderie oriented experience. Everyone with a common goal, not really competing with each other to get there. Like everyone at a pro football game only we all play and no one loses. You cannot beat that!

One thing I have to stress is the fact that many people were running… and then walking… and then running again. Off and on, off and on. And they were faster than I was! I realized it was a good strategy, for those wanting to finish. Look into it. You have 6 hours. In fact, a power walker was literally walking twice my speed. He was near 7 foot tall, and he was the fastest hip shaking walker I’ve ever seen. Holy crap! He just shook past me. I blinked a couple times, checking reality. And then continued.

I also want everyone that uses age or weight as an excuse to not run, especially a marathon, to keep your bullshit. I saw all ages, shapes and sizes that day. I saw people that looked as though they hadn’t run in their entire lives, yet they were. I saw an overweight man in his 50’s running faster than me. I saw a few granny’s and grandpa’s as well. One was mid 70’s and faster than me by 5 minutes and a 77 year old male that could barely move, but he finished. I saw people carrying babies, running in big heavy costumes, and even pushing people in wheelchairs. To be honest, I don’t ever want to hear an excuse as to why you can’t run if it isn’t injury or health, ever again.

Seed of an Ultra and Other Highlights
One thing I remember while running, during one conversation, is hearing someone behind me, a man in his late 40’s, talking about having run an ultra marathon from Miami area to the Keys, and it sounded like he said it was 50 miles! I didn’t know what an ultra marathon was at the time, but I figured that out. “50 miles”, I thought, “I am barely making it through this race (being at mile 15 ish), how on earth could I run 50?!!! But it was intriguing to say the least, and planting a small seed in me head.

More Highlights
Regarding some race highlights, near mile 20 I was very concerned that the wall was upon me, but it never came. Instead, I had two numb feet. It felt as though someone had been stomping on each foot for a long while. And the result was no different. I had what they call “Black Toe”, which results from a consistent pounding of the foot into the front of a shoe. It has it’s name because the toenails go black, and eventually fall off. I was the lucky winner of two: the big toe on each foot. After a couple weeks I pulled them both off and it wouldn’t be until my next marathon that they had fully grown back, 9 months later. Ironic.

The last 6 miles seemed like forever. It seemed that every additional mile took an hour or would never come at all. I was running more alone at this point, as most of the 20,000 were half marathoners or less, and near the end everyone is going their own speed. I liked the isolation but it didn’t speed up any time. I wondered how long it took that guy to run 50 miles, and if he had any people around to talk to. If not, he might have felt as though he ran for a couple years I figured. But I would know soon enough.

Oh, and I walked for about 5 minutes. This was more difficult than I thought. My toes were numb, and I had this ego thing in the way: I wanted to say I didn’t walk. It was foolish but I think I rebelled and walked because of that alone. Things can get pretty convincing in such a long activity of energy usage. I did wanna reflect on some things before the race was over, since I had the time. I only really remember thinking how I couldn’t wait to get those damn shoes off. I also wondered how much easier things would be if I lost some weight. After that fast break I tried to get the running going. I knew I was near the end, so I pushed it a bit more and scooted til it was over.

This is the End, My Friend
The finish line was ahead. Alot of people were there cheering. I felt uncomfortable with people cheering for me, although it was pleasant. One funny thing was that during registration I guess we could have our name on the bib numbers. I had signed up so long ago I had them put St on it, a shortened version of a nickname I went by in video game land: Streetrunner. I chose that moniker during my first video game tournament QuakeCon, when the tourney asked me what nickname I went by and I hadn’t thought of one. Since I valeted at the time, I figured it could be my Native American name. The funny part is that I didn’t really realize it had the St on the bib until people were saying consistent things like “You can do it Saint!” and “Go es tee!”. Only in the end when I heard “Almost there Street” did I realize they had put that on there. I used to be called Street for short anyways by many friends, so I wondered for a sec who knew me. Oh the marathon!

As I crossed the finish line, they put a medal around my neck like the in the Olympics. Or better yet, the end of the 4th Star Wars. It was freaking AWESOME! The medal, not the putting around the neck stuff, that was a bit overdramepic. Created words aside, the medal is still, to this day, probably the coolest of them all. It spins in 3 different places… well, hard to explain. Just look at the picture! The medal rocked, and it also reminded me of a medal obsession I had even as a child…more on that another time.

The Amazing Accomplishment That Wasn’t
As I was ending the race, it was a relief but it was bittersweet. I wanted to feel awesome that I had accomplished something like this, but I simply didn’t. I only had decided to run and not stop that day. What is in that? The bitter was that I knew that in searching for such a feeling that it was only something I could create. It wasn’t THAT big a deal. It is for some people and that is great! Big obstacles that are conquered are always amazing. If it was motivation for others, that is awesome. For me, though, I just wanted to run with some people. Alot of people. And now I had. And it was amazing. Never would I have known such a feeling as to run together with so many. It was the sharing that I took away from that day. And boy did I yearn for it again as you will see.

That night I felt pretty good. The following day I was barely sore, besides my toes still feeling a bit numb. My joints around my knee and hips were really all I felt tender. All that training, if you could call that training, and I finally wasn’t very sore after running for once.

First marathon in the bag!

Week off time.

Shoes off time!

From Never Running To An Ultramarathon In A Year
Part 1: It All Started…
Part 2: Injuries!
Part 3: The Wall.
Part 4: The Marathon
Part 5: Putting On My New Feet
Part 6: The Alligator That Smiled At Me
Part 7: The Book That Plants
Part 8: First Barefoot Race
Part 9: Running Forever in the Park
Part 10: The Short Race Report
Part 11: Kansas City, Gonna Get My Baby Back Home
Part 12: The Return of the Long Lost Runs (no toilet humor please)
Part 13: Dorothy, We Are In Kansas Anymore
Part 14: Worn
Part 15: Valet = Achilles Tendinitis = No more running this year, well…
Part 16: Marathon Decisions: Screw It
Part 17: 9.5 Months After Losing Da Shoes: The Kansas City Marathon
Part Last

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