Sunday, April 03, 2005

Goose Bumps

So there I was on a cool January morning in Florida. It was about 5am and still dark. I was sitting on a huge parking lot while dressed in grungy old sweatshirt and sweatpants. All I could see were thousands of legs standing around me - bare legs - about half of them bare female legs - most of them covered in goose bumps. What am I doing here? Am I nuts? Is this a dream?

It all started the previous September as I finished my summer sailing job and was thinking of what to do in the fall to keep fit and avoid gaining weight over the winter. "Why not enter a marathon?", I thought. I reckoned I would need 3 months or so to get into shape and a quick search showed that the Disneyworld Marathon in January was at about the right time of year. So I entered the race, booked a room at Disneyworld, reserved some flights, and told everyone I was running a marathon in January. Now I was committed.

I had an old book about running your first marathon. First problem was that the book reckoned it would take more than 3 months to get fit. So I just started part way through the program running the recommended time each week. Bad idea. I got terrible shin splints from running too far, too fast, too soon.

But I stuck with the program through the fall. It wasn't too hard as the book said that speed didn't matter, just do the times recommended, running as slowly as you like. Except I discovered that for the longest week, a couple of weeks before marathon date, the book told you to run 150 minutes on one day and this would be about 20 miles and "if you can run 20 miles you can probably finish the marathon".

Hmmmm. 150 minutes is 20 miles if you run it at seven and a half minutes a mile. For me the 150 minute run was more like 15 miles. And I knew all the marathon programs said you should do at least one run of 20 miles or more. Luckily I had arranged the program to give me a couple of weeks in hand in case I got sick or hurt. So I repeated the heaviest 2 weeks of the program and extended the long run to 20 miles.

I felt great after the 20 mile run. I felt like I had more miles left in me and could have done it faster. Only problem was that I was doing these long training runs in New Jersey in December with the temperature in the thirties. Race day temperature was eventually in the sixties. Not quite as easy.

The other thing I had overlooked was that the marathon race start time was 6am. When I read the small print in the info provided by Disney it said you had to catch a bus from your hotel at 4am. After the bus ride there would be a long long wait until the start of the race. Yikes.

So that's how my wish to keep fit for sailing led me to be sitting in a parking lot in the middle of the night surrounded by thousands of bare legs covered in goose bumps. I hope this sacrifice is reflected in my sailing race results next season.....

Oh yes, I did complete the marathon. Everything I had read about marathons is true. They ARE long and hard. The last 6.2 miles ARE much much harder than the previous 20 miles. There IS a wall. But I've signed up to do it again next year.

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