October 16th, 2004, 7:59 AM, Fort Benjamin Harrison, one minute until the start of the Indianapolis Marathon, my first marathon. I was 41 years old, but felt like a kid waiting to open his Christmas presents. I’d been anticipating this day since I started the training program 18 weeks earlier. This was no time for any last minute doubts. What had I gotten myself into? What was I doing here? Push those thoughts aside. I was there to conquer the beast, to finish the race, to prove that I could do it, heck, maybe even qualify for
I didn’t always enjoy running. In high school I hated running. Each day at football practice we would run a lap around the track as a warm up. That one lap was enough for me. My attitude toward running began to change after I graduated from college in 1983. I would be heading off to basic training at Ft Leonard Wood in July and I wanted to be prepared so I started running. I still wouldn’t say that I enjoyed running, but I knew running would be a daily routine in the Army and I wanted to be prepared for it. Basic training is physically draining even if you are in good shape, but it can be pure torture if you’re not in shape. Through basic training my running improved and by the end I was able to max my score on the running part of the Army physical readiness test. Still I was only running because someone was making me do it.
My first duty station after basic was at the Presidio of Monterey, California. It was there that I started to develop a love for running. With its year round nearly perfect running weather, flat sandy beaches, hills, redwood forests, crashing surf,
From those glory days in
It was in training for my third mini that my mind finally snapped. I was meeting on Saturday mornings with a Mini training group and for some reason I decided it was time to run a full marathon. Of course I was dumb enough to tell everyone of my decision, so there could be no backing out later if I were to come to my senses. In addition to the mini, I had run the Indianapolis Half Marathon in October the previous two years. They run a full marathon at the same time and this year I would do the full 26.2 miles. I began training in June following Hal Higdon’s intermediate protocol. The training got off to a bit of a rocky start. I strained my left calf at mile 13 of a 14 mile run and had to limp home for a mile. I bruised a thigh playing softball when a ground ball took a bad hop. I eventually lost three toenails because of tight fitting shoes and socks that were too thick. I didn’t get discouraged; I kept going and by the time race day came along I had completed two 20 mile training runs. I was ready to run the race.
Just finishing should have been enough of a goal for a first timer, but I had my sights set on
My time was a big disappointment. I’m certain that if I had started out at a more realistic pace I might have been able to finish in less than four hours. Before I finished the post race meal, I was already thinking about running another marathon to improve my PR or hey, wouldn’t it be cool to run a marathon in each of the 50 states? One down 49 to go. I must be crazy. Next up, Lakefront Marathon in