Tuesday, November 20, 2012


382.2 miles. That's how many miles I've run since August 6 when I began training for my Third marathon, which I ran on Sunday.

4:32:10 was how long it took me to run the 26.2 miles throughout Philadelphia.  4:30:00 was the goal I set for myself back in August when I started training.

It was a lofty goal, and I liked having a new challenge added to a race I had done twice, but honestly, I didn't think I would even come close to making it.

But sometimes, you just have a good run. And that's what happened on Sunday. More intensive training, a good understanding of how to hydrate and feed myself in a marathon, and a lot of hill work (training in Pittsburgh makes "hills" in Philadelphia seem quaint) certainly contributed to 4:32:10. But it was also just a great run.

I didn't stop or walk at all until after mile marker 16 - that's the longest I've ever run without walking before. Every time I checked my watch as I hit another mile marker, I remember thinking "I can't believe I'm still on pace! I can't believe I'm still running!"

In Manayunk, as we approached mile 20, I began bracing myself for the wall. The point in which your glycogen stores are totally depleted, and you begin cramping, your legs start seizing, and you generally feel exhausted.

Have you ever experienced your eyelashes and fingernails and teeth being tired? That's the level of fatigue you feel in the last leg of a marathon. Not to mention the parts of you actually involved in the run.

Instead, at mile 20, I experienced one of the most intense runner's high of my life.  Rather than feeling tired, I felt terrific. I ran back up the "hill" out of Manayunk towards Kelly drive for the final stretch with enough dopamine flooding my system to get me to mile 22 smiling.

When my legs did finally start cramping up at mile 24, I had less than a 5k left, and it's way easier to talk yourself through 2 miles of pain than 6 miles.  I started to slow down a bit, and crossed the finish line with not much left to give. And that's the goal in a race - to finish having used everything you've got.

I finished just 2 minutes over my goal time. Half an hour faster than I finished one year ago.

It's scary when you push yourself to the edge of yourself. Not just in running, in anything you do that is totally out of your comfort zone and away from anything familiar. But it is incredible and surprising what you are capable of when you do.

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