duke city marathon
Convenient, for more than one reason. The starting line was about ten minutes away from my house, and the finish line provided the motivation for the longest training run I ever did.
I was pretty relaxed. I didn't feel I was there for a race. It was a practice run.
The morning was chilly and the start line next to the entrance of a Doubletree Hotel with generous management, so the lobby filled with people in athletic gear. Since we were all waiting around in plentiful light, it was easy to observe the dynamics of mutual assessment between runners, checking out each other's looks, the trendiness of equipment, and the color of bib numbers to figure out who runs what, with posh satisfaction if one ran the full while the next person had signed up for the half only. I never noticed that before. It was almost funny. Almost.
I had planned to take my time and walk as often as I felt like, and that is pretty much what I did. Or almost. I could have walked more, but it seemed practical to also run from time to time. I was trying to do this as I would a 50-miler and what I had read on the internet said not to rush. At times it seemed I was going too fast. Later in the day it got hot, and it seemed I was only crawling. I wasn't overly worried one way or another. It's amazing how little pressure I associated with this marathon.
The only thing I was concerned about was fueling. During a 50-miler I would have to eat, eat, eat, and I am not good at that. I had experimented lately, and was still trying out all sorts of things - potato chips, fruit, yoghurt-covered pretzels. Since I hate gels with absolute passion, I even tried a McDonald breakfast sanwich (I figured we could find that in Nashville, too). That took me about ten miles, I am not kidding. I started at mile 10, I took the last bite during mile 20. In hindsight I didn't eat as much as could have or even should have, but it felt as if for hours I was doing little else than stuffing my mouth. I didn't get sick; for that I was grateful.
Toward the end I felt exhausted though - hot, breathless, overhwelmed. I normally don't walk during the last mile of a marathon, but I did this time. I did put in a little sprint at the finish, to end on a nice note, and I did drink my chocolate milk for recovery, as I had planned.
And I knew I was ready - for a shower, a nap, and Nashville.