I ran in the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday, and despite not having trained for it, I finished with a time of about 5:46, a 13:13 mile pace. It was quite difficult at times but I persevered.
The mistake I made in training was attempting to run a normal short-distance pace for longer runs – I burned myself out by trying to do 8 minute miles when I should have been doing 10 or 11 minutes. If I put in a long run every weekend of 10-13 miles, at a 10-11 pace, I think I could bring down my finishing time significantly for next year’s race.
My original plan for the marathon (if you could even call it a plan – I kind of just rolled out of bed and stumbled to the starting line) was to only run 10-13 miles. The night before the race my family was asking me whether I expected to finish, and I assured them that no, there was no way I could – but I didn’t want my registration to go to waste, so I was going to run part of the course.
When I got to mile ten it seemed silly to quit – so many others around me were continuing. At mile 13, I wasn’t ready to stop either. My mom was in the crowd at mile 16, so I wanted to at least get that far. Once I got there, I just kept going. It was as if I was so far past any distance I had run recently, I figured that I could just keep going – if I had already gone 18, anything was possible.
I had not run more than six miles in the last 7 months – the last long run I had was a half marathon, 13.1 miles, on St. Patricks’ Day. I totaled maybe 16 miles of training in the last two months, but I’ve been keeping up with stretching, kettlebells, and biking, and I think that helped me pull through.
The adrenaline from the crowd, people cheering, and the determination of the runners, were all great motivators.
There was a Marine standing in uniform around mile 23 with a bullhorn, saying to the runners “I’m inspired by each one of you.” – I felt like if I could inspire a soldier by going on a peaceful run, the pain was probably worth it.