This page was last updated on: May 1, 2006
First Time Marathon Stories
Milo German, October 2004 - Twin Cities Marathon

To Fast Tracks:

It's my understand that tradition dictates that your marathon experience be told to all.  I'll let Sarah to you about hers.  (However, for a sneak preview, note my message below to Brian.)

I will respectfully disagree with Bobbi.  Twin Cities is truly the most beautiful marathon (US marathon anyway), especially given the time of year with the trees changing colors.  With the exception of starting in Downtown Minneapolis in ending on the steps of the State Capitol in St. Paul, I would describe it as running 26 miles through Radnor's old neighborhoods (without the hills !!), with the added bonus of running around 3 lakes and crossing the (little) Mississippi River, which, by the way, has not yet turned into the Big Muddy.  The crowd support was wonderful, with many neighborhood parties.  People lined the whole way.

Some quick TC Marathon facts:

Over 10,000 entrants.  Over 7000 finishers.  68 people ran with the last name Johnson.  47 Olsons.  36 Petersons and 13 Knutsens.  3 women in Green Bay Packers cheerleaders uniforms. (Gutsy, given they were in Vikings territory.)  1 Governor of Minnesota.  No men in Red Dresses or Pink Tutus.

Most often heard phrase:  Hey runners.  Uer lookin godt out dare.

Phrase never heard: Yo, Anthony.  Look at the SOB in the Pink Tutu.

As for the quick details of the race:

Before the start.  I realized I had lost my Pace Chart, and thought to myself, "If Deb Keener were here, she would have an extra one to give me . . ."  Fortunately, I did retrace my steps and found it.

Miles 1-2.  I felt great.  People are passing me, but I am trying to run my own pace.

Mile 3.    I look at my watch and realize that at just over 30 minutes, Joan Afflack's wedding time of 26:05 is long past.

Mile 8.  In honor of Mary Wood, I stopped to take a potty break.

Mile 9.  The tendons behind my right knee "became" strained.  This caused me to adjust my stride somewhat, so that my leg wouldn't completely give out.

When I passed the 10 mile marker, I said (to anyone around me who would listen), " . . . only a 16 mile training run to go . . ."  Two guys behind me laughed and said, "We didn't do any 16 mile runs . . ."

Mile 11.  I heard a young boy say to his dad that he saw a guy skipping.  I thought, "Must be related to Paul . . ."

By mile 12, the inside muscles connecting my hips to my torso started to hurt, because of my modified stride.

Mile 13.1.  Good news.  Bad news.  I crossed the chip mat (Good News) and realized I had just run my second fastest half marathon. (In hindsight, Bad News.)

Mile 14.  I passed a young woman wearing a picture on her back of her husband in Iraq.  I wished her (and him) the best, and told her that hopefully today she would have a much tougher day than her husband's.  She smiled and said, "Me, too."

Mile 14.5.    I realized just how much longer the second half is going to be.  I could really use some "good job Group 3!!" words of encouragement from all the Fast Tracks Wednesday Night Track Runners, because right now, I certainly don't feel like moving up to Group 2.

Mile 15.  Robin, Robin, Robin . . . Where are you???

Mile 16.  A slight downhill.  Why aren't any of the women yelling, "Weeeeeee."?

Mile 17.  I should have gotten a prerace massage.  Why did I pick a marathon during the same week that Bobbi ran her marathon ??!!??

Mile 18.  Hurting bad enough that I thought about quitting, but, then I thought, "If Susan can get up at 4:00 am to run a 20 miler, I can certainly figure out a way to finish . . ."

Mile 19.  Robin?  Hello?  Where are you??

Mile 19.5.  I know the big hill starts shortly.  I sure wish I had accepted Michele's invitation to run Diamond Rock Road.

Mile 20 through 23.  The hilly part of the course.  I thought, I could really use some conversation from Deb Keener and Deb Hall right now.

Mile 23.  Done with the hills.  I remember how touched I felt, when Lauren French and everyone stopped to wait for me at the top of Mt. Misery.

23.5  Now I kinda know how those marathoner's felt, when we watched the Olympics at Stacey's house.

Mile 24.  Slightly delirious, to the point where I thought, "In Minnesota, there's a lot of blond women running today that sure look like Ali . . ."

Mile 25.  Robin and Mary, "Why aren't you here so I can ask you the question:  Why does Keith do a marathon every month anyway??

Mile 25.5.  I think I can make but, but only because Beth came back to find me and ran with me to the finish of the 20 miler that she and Roseanne organized.

Mile 26.  I fully expect the welcoming crowds to part and Jim Lewis to appear, see me, and turn towards me with a slightly cocked head and in a monotone voice say, " . . . looks like your going to make it today . . ."

Mile 26.2.  Brian, sorry to disappoint.  Sarah did beat me.  :-)

Mile 26.21    Candice, Vicki, Ali and Steve and all other triathletes, I am really glad I didn't have to swim or ride a bike today.

Walk to the car.  Did the traditional "marathon shuffle" and thought, "Laura, I will do any job at the Steeplechase Run, as long as I can sit !!"

Oh, yea.  Carole, feel free ask me what my time was.  :-)

Monday morning, the day after:  The sun rose to clear skies; the air was crisp, and I now understand why Keith runs so many marathons.  I will certainly try another.

I don't think Hillary Clinton meant it this way, but it sure "Takes A Village" to run a marathon.  There is no way I could have done this without training with and support of the entire Fast Tracks group.  The long runs planned by everyone made this all possible.

Milo German

PS  To Brett and any other first time Marathon runners  A helpful hint . . .

The night before the race, go to the Race Expo and buy $80 of clothing with the name of your marathon on it.

Trust me.  At some part of the race, you will think, "I have to finish or else I have $80 of clothing that's worthless . . . !!  :-)

PSS    Joan Osborne:  After the race, I took 4 Advil, because that's how many came out of the bottle when I tipped it over.  :-)
Baltimore Marathon, October 2004 - From Susan Look

Well, it is 4am a few days after finishing my first marathon.  I have been up for a few hours - can't sleep.  Is it because I am still very excited about accomplishing this goal?  Is it because I still can't get comfortable enough to sleep because I am in so much pain? (I didn't know I move my legs so much while sleeping).  Both very good guesses, but, no - I think is is because I took a 2 1/2 hour nap with my kids this afternoon because I was still so exhausted from this weekend.

I was going to write this email sooner but since my computer was downstairs, it wasn't worth the additional pain to get to it.  Luckily, after suffering through those first 48 hours of post marathon pain and after a massage from Bobbi yesterday (I called her on Monday and pleaded with her to see me as soon as possible), I am feeling much better today and don't even have to hold onto the railing to go up or down stairs.

I want to thank all those who gave me support and encouragement during my training.  I wish I could have run more with the group (my injury sort of got me off the schedule) - you are all such a great group of people and lots of fun to run with.

For those of you who are interested, here are some highlights from my FIRST marathon (notice I said "first" and not "only"):

Friday night - check in hotel with Laura Pyott and our families, pick up race packets, see Deb Keener several times at expo.  Milo calls and says he is on his way - ("what?  Is he nuts?")  Milo subjects himself to eating at a restaurant with four children ages 5 and under.  Milo further subjects himself to watching same four kids play at hotel pool for an hour after dinner.  Milo goes to hotel bar - he may have done a couple shots.  Laura and I go to bed.

Sat - 7:30am - The race starts at 8am.  Fortunately, Laura had made our hotel reservations at the hotel which is at the starting line of the marathon - how cool is that!  So no stress about getting to the starting line and last minute potty needs.

7:45am  - Laura, Milo and I mosey downstairs and out the door of the hotel and are now at the starting line (I'm not exaggerating).  Our families are watching from the hall window 7 floors up in their pajamas - we are waving at them.  Look for Deb - no where to be found - we start to worry.

7:58am - Deb shows up next to us - she has her pacing chart in a plastic cover and pinned to her shorts - I think it's highlighted or color-coded. I have no pace chart - my goal - run slow (about 10 minute miles) and finish.

8am - the start - very exciting - Milo runs with Deb.  Laura with me.  The plan - for them to run the first 1 1/2 and then duck out and meet up with us again at mile 8.

Mile 1  - missed the mile marker - too excited.  Asked someone and they said we passed it already.

Mile 1 1/2 - We see Milo.  Laura stops and off I go.

Mile 2-3 - The first few miles are supposed to be uphill with the highest point of the course at mile 3.  Didn't seem to bad to me.  Talk to various people running around me.  Lots of energy.  Waving to spectators and saying good-morning.  Pace is right on.

Mile 4 - 6 - lots of downhill.  Let my legs go.  Heard some guy ask at mile 6 if we were about 1/3 done.  Felt sorry for him.  Can't do math and has 20 miles to run.

Mile 6-8 - feel fine.  Pace good.  Actually, must have picked up some time on downhills - ran a couple miles under 10 minutes.

Mile 8 - see Laura - yeah - someone to run with and talk to. Talking to strangers is nice, but it's nothing like chatting with a friend.  She plans on getting me to at least 13 maybe even 15. 

Mile 12 - good pace - we see Milo - updates us on Deb - she's doing great.  He runs with us.

Mile 13 - see my family - yeah - and they have signs.  Half-marathon time is good - 2 hrs 12 minutes.  Right on pace.

Mile 14-15 - starting to feel fatigue in legs and lower back pain - not good.  And, how come this whole time, I have felt nauseous?  I think drinking this Baltimore tap water instead of spring water is making me sick. 

Mile 15 - I tell Milo, I should have listened to him and went out slower.  Laura and Milo end there time with me - we walk through the water stop and it's hard to get going.

Mile 16 - And the hills begin - my legs are so tired.  Why am I doing this again?  Let's relax and walk up the hill.  I have stopped waving at spectators and saying good morning.  Why (and how) does Keith do this every month?

Mile 17 - 20 - I give up on my goal of a 4 1/2 hour marathon.  I have stopped running 10 minute miles and I'm now averaging over 13 minute miles. I start making calls to people on the cell phone I'm carrying while walking up any hills I come across.  I figure it will pass the time and take my mind off the torture I am subjecting myself to.  Call my friend whose training for Philly marathon and leave a message.  "this is the stupidest thing I have ever done."  See Milo - he says Laura isn't feeling to good - turns out it was the beginning of a 48 hours stomach virus.  At the time, I figure it is the Baltimore tap water and I am next.  If one more person yells," just one more big hill and your done", I may start yelling some things back.
Mile 21-23 -  OK, the hills are suppose to end after 22.  I keep seeing the 5 hour pace group.  If I slowly jog at 11-12 minute miles, I can make it in 5 hours.  Set new goal - 5 hours.  At some point, we go down a big hill and I tell the girls I'm passing that they have to yell "weeeeee".  I yell it, not sure if they join in.  It made me feel better for a minute anyway.

Mile 24 - Milo joins me. He fills me in on Deb - she's flying - doing great.  Laura is sick.  There is only two miles left.  I'm not in a very talkative/good mood.  Why are there hills after mile 22 when the topography map showed miles 22-26 as a downhill.    I just want to be done.

Mile 25-26 - I keep running and looking at my watch.  I start to count down the minutes until I am down.  Can I ask Milo one more time "how much further now"?  See my family at mile 25 1/2 - yeah.  Almost done.  I am going to make it. 

Mile 26 - Milo stops.  I finally see the finish line and check my watch - 5 hours.  Chip time - 5 hours and 19 seconds.  Yeah.

Milo finds me and then Laura - they walk me back to the hotel - Laura gives me a pullover and Milo peels my orange for me.  I finished my first marathon and I have such good friends.  I couldn't have done it with out them. 
Pat Christensen - Marine Corps Marathon, October 2005
Harry Rimmer - Marine Corps Marathon, October 2005
Kristen D'Uva - Chicago Marathon, October 2005
Andi Lieberman - Delaware Marathon, May 2005
Milo German - Twin Cities Marathon, October 2004
Susan Look - Baltimore Marathon, October 2004

Read Other Marathon Stories
Delaware Marathon 2005 - Andi Lieberman

Well, I'm officially a marathoner! I could not have done it without  the incredible support from Fast Tracks and my family. Many,many thanks to Keith who ran with me the whole way. It was fun (well, at least most of it!) running next to him. I'm in 100's of photos and the comments.  Keith received along  the way along with his snappy comebacks had me
smiling ( again, at least  most of the time!) I decided at mile 18 it really sucked and Keith just talked me through it. My third loop around was very difficult, the sun came out strong and the humidity and temperature were on the rise. I cursed the weather man who predicted
clouds and rain all the while listening to folks shout out "hey tutu man" and here comes "cinderfella".

Thankfully  for the 4th and final lap the sun disappeared behind the clouds. Harry met us around mile 24 and my husband at mile 25. I was run in by Keith, Harry and Eric . I've told Harry he isn't allowed to get injured anymore, he needs to share in the fun of the marathon but I want to thank him for all the support and encouragement along the way.

Harry, there's a marathon waiting for us.  Also a big thank you to  Milo, Robin, Sarah, Joan, Janice, Carole, Ethel, Mike, and George. All of you offered words of encouragement and support along the way. If I've failed to mention anyone I'm sorry, my thinking abilities are a bit
fuzzy right now-so thank you! Congrats to everyone who ran today, it was tough.

Congrats to the Fast Tracks Relay team for a great race, that's awesome!!!  It was wonderful  to see you fly past us each lap.  I forgot to hit my watch off when I crossed the finish, but I think my time was 4 hours 11 minutes and 57 seconds. I'll be sure to check out
the official results. As I sit here in an advil induced stupor I'm already thinking about my next marathon... Harry and I are registered for Marine Corps in October. This running thing is really a sickness!

Take care,
Andi :-)
Kristen D'Uva - Chicago Marathon, October 2005

Well...I am officially a marathoner!  

This is my first marathon recap...and although I can't promise to be as eloquent as Stacey R., I can give you what I experienced...may be more details than you want...but like Vicki, want to get it all down before I forget the minutia...

Chicago is a great city, so just getting on a plane, flying to another city and seeing all the hype, excitement and hooplah surrounding this race is awesome!  That city loves it's runners...if they can assume you are running in it--they will talk to you about it!  Every billboard and sign from the airport across the entire city said SOMETHING about the marathon...

The first part of my marathon experience was the expo---IT WAS HUGE!!  I have never seen anything like husband had to drag me back to the hotel to rest--there was so much to see!

The morning of the race was PERFECT!  45 and ovecast...we walked to the start from our hotel which was a good way to get rid of the jitters that I was feeling...There were miles and miles of port-o-potties, but of course with 40,000 runners, there were miles of lines too...I started FREAKING out when the time was dwindling down to a few minutes to start-time and honestly started to panic when they started singing the national anthem and I was still 5 people deep in line!  I FINALLY got through the line and literally jumped a fence to get on the raceway to make it through to the start.  This put me WAY in the back of the pack (I was standing with the 11 min mile/5:15 pace people) and it was near impossible to sneak up closer to my desired pace times...OH WELL!!  We were off!

I felt GREAT the first few miles...probably from nerves, excitement, name it I was feeling it...the crowds were huge and I loved was hard however to move any faster then the group around you was running...there was no way to move up!  I ran my first 5K in like 32 min I think...but I didn't stress because I wanted a slow start...(well I got it!!)

The pace picked up a bit as we approached miles 6-10 and I think it was the best crowds and energy of the whole race...the transvestites singing Men at Work in FULL DRAG was awesome...they even had a baton twirling and hula hoop swinging group...I had my name on the front of my shirt so even though my husband was the only person out there with me, I had thousands of fans!!  I recommend this to anyone running alone or who needs the support!!  It tuly is great to hear you name called out every several feet!

I hit the half mark only 10 minutes slower than my Philly half time and I was still within my self-set goal of 4:30.  I still felt GREAT!  My arch on my right foot that had been bothering my for a week prior started to twinge a little around mile 16, and then I hit the dreaded wall at 18...My butt hurt and my foot KILLED--I took a Gu, threw on my music, walked through the water stop and tried to get over the hump and THANK GOD it was short lived...I hit 20 smiling and thinking I have done this much before and it was with Vicki's hills...I CAN REALLY DO THIS!  By the time we got out to 21 and 22, we were near WHITE SOX Stadium and the crowds were sparse...JOAN--this is where (you'll be proud to know) I started talking to myself...I LOOOOOVVVEEEE running...I CHOSE to do this...I am damn foot doesn't hurt (IT HURT SO BAD AT THIS POINT)...

That's when I saw Elvis...I mean I was running NEXT to Elvis...complete with Gold Lamay (how the heck do you spell that???) jumpsuit, mutton chop sideburns, and cheesy gold sunglasses...I was completely entertained just running near him by all of the crowds' reaction...made me think of Keith and why everyone loves to run with him!

Before I knew it I had hit mile 23, the sun had popped out, and I actually got a surge--I am SOOO CLOSE!  I had been calling from my husband from my cell with updates along the way...and he would tell me his position on the course so I could find him...he told me he was at the turn to the finish--and that I was getting so close...I saw a BIG sign that said WHO SAID BEER WASN'T A CARB...they were handing out Miller and Guinness and I thought of Carole Rosen and her Chicago story...I didn't feel like turning green so I passed...My Elvis friend had a Guinness though!

23, 24 and 25 FLEW BY...I maybe zoned out...and really don't remember much of those 2 miles but the next thing I remember I am at the 40K and then the 25.2 and the sign read ONLY ONE MILE TO GO!  I tried to turn on any gas that I had left and started smiling--I felt great...passing people and watching others that had to stop to walk...I rounded the last corner and saw my husband in the stands and rolled into the finish arms in the air and still wearing a smile!!  I crossed in 4:25 which was 5 minutes better then the unofficial goal I had set for myself, and thanks to the reminder from Stacey R, a PR! 

I had a GREAT TIME and although I don't have any plans for another any time is not out of the question (just don't tell my husband that :)!!

Just wanted to thank EVERYONE that I have run with this year in Fast Tracks...this was a year of PR's across the board for me and of accomplishment I NEVER dreamed I could all made it possible for me to meet my dream of calling myself a "marathoner"!!  It is a pleasure to run with the best of the best and am grateful for the friendships I have forged!  THANKS TO YOU ALL!!

On a side note...the Elvis beat me by 2 seconds, SO KEITH, does this mean I have to dress up as Elvis if I run another one????


Harry Rimmer - Marine Corps Marathon, October 2005

Yesterday I ran Marine Corp. – my first marathon, and I feel great.

The night before we had our pasta dinner in Georgetown, at a small restaurant that had been recommended to us. Ethel, Pam, Robin, Jill, Emily (my daughter) joined Andi and myself. We had a fun evening talking about the race and trying to pretend we weren’t too nervous.  The next morning we ate the breakfast we had brought with us, which was just as well since the restaurant didn’t open till 7.00 am, and we took the shuttle down to the start line. Every thing was well organized  and since we arrived over an hour before the start it wasn’t too busy.. Even the lines for the Porta Potties were only a few minutes long.

We were in Scarlet Wave, so our start was at 8.15. The Corrals were arranged by bib number. Andi’s number was in the 2000’s and mine was in the 8000’s. So we compromised and entered the corral for the 5000’s – we were still only 100 yards from the start line.  I always enjoy the atmosphere at the start line – there is a tremendous feeling of anticipation, nervousness, excitement and adrenaline pumping through everyone’s veins. It’s the one occasion when I actually feel like an athlete. Then I saw the leader of the 3hr 30min pace group standing just in front of us. I became concerned that we might be swept along at an 8:30 pace. Andi was tremendous; she promised we would stick to our plan of starting at a gentle 10:00 pace, 9:45 for the second mile, and then 9:30. The gun went off on time, and we crossed the line 21/2 minutes later. This would cause a problem, because I had given our support group a map showing what time we would be at each mile marker – but it assumed we would cross the line at least 15 minutes after the gun!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful running partner, Andi was aimimg for a specific PR, but she stayed with me for the first 4 miles, until I’d settled into my goal pace of 9:30. I wished her luck and she went ahead.Most of the race was just great fun. The weather was perfect (42 degrees at the
start), and the crowds were fantastic. At a marathon pace, it’s easier to spend time thanking the spectators, giving high fives and waving to the bands. As I was running up the National Mall, I realized I was smiling – not something I normally do when running. I was actually enjoying every single minute.  At the halfway point, my time was 2hr 04 min – I was on track to achieve my dream goal of 4:15.

Then I saw my daughter for the first time, in fact I didn’t see her. She ran unto the road and tapped my shoulder. I saw her again around mile 15; and then I saw my son running along the sidewalk, waving and shouting “Dad” – I called his name waved, and went on. I was glad that most of my family was there to see me. Then the route goes down to into East Potomac Park, an area with no Metro
access, and consequently few spectators. Around mile 17 my hamstring started tightening – but I’d rehearsed various mind games to deal with this and the pain went away. I started looking for the famous sculpture The Awakening . I saw it at the bottom of the park, just at the turn around. It’s a sculpture showing an arm, a face, a wrist and one leg coming out of the ground – I found it a bit
ghoulish. I heard several people around me saying “don’t look at it” - “don’t look at it” Perhaps there is some superstition I’m not aware of.  I passed mile 18 still maintaining my goal pace. Then my little toe started burning as if it was on fire. I thought about stopping to readjust my shoe – but stopping wasn’t part of my plan. After that various leg muscles took it in turn to complain, but each time I managed to will the pain away. Mile 20 is the beginning of the infamous 14th street bridge. I started chatting to a young guy called Mark, who was also on his first marathon.. I found myself telling him the rest of the course was easy – we could look forward to the cookies at the end of the bridge; then we’d go into Crystal City where there would be huge crowds. After that we would go around the Pentagon, which I’d never seen before, and a mile later we should be able to see Iwo Jima. I amazed
myself with the enthusiasm in my little motivational chat. When I reached the end of the bridge, I decided not to risk the cookies, and took a slice of apple instead. The juice from the apple was refreshing, but when I bit into it I started to choke on the small pieces.I maintained my target pace until then, but when I passed mile 22, I realized I was slowing down. At mile 23, my time was 3:44 – I was elated and if I could maintain a 10 minute pace I’d still finish in 4:15 (my dream goal).

Then things changed, my fuel tank was suddenly empty and my pace was rapidly slowing. None of the mantras and none of the mind games were able to get me back to a 10 minute pace. I had hit the wall; I kept trying to break through it – but to no avail.  So I forgot my Garmin and just focused on running – I wasn’t going to give in and walk, I just kept running. I never saw the Iwo Jima monument from any distance – the trees around it have grown too tall. I plodded on to the ¼ mile hill which takes you to the finish line. That final section is flanked by bleachers packed with cheering crowds, I pushed as hard as I could up that hill – achieving a 14 min pace! I crossed the line around 4hr 23 – not my dream goal, but within my stated goal of 4:30. I’d had a lot of fun (at least for the first 23 miles), I’d kept to my hydration plan, and most importantly I’d finished.

The whole race was very well organized, but when I got to the food tent there was a huge crowd, and it wasn’t moving. I managed to find two bottles of water and a banana – but then realized I was about to fall over. I didn’t feel dizzy, but I knew I was about to fall. I hung unto a tree for a while, ate the banana and drank the water. Feeling a little more stable I tried to find the place where we’d agreed to meet. After stumbling around somewhat disorientated I eventually found Jill, my family and Andi. But Andi was unable to stand up. I’ll let Andi give the details, but she was taken to the medical tent. Fortunately she was discharged after an hour and returned to the hotel – back to her normal
chirpy self.  As an aside, when my family was returning home on the metro, they saw another
marathon runner collapse to the ground. My wife is a nurse and she was able to get this guy back on his feet. Just remember the effects of dehydration or hyponatremia are often delayed.  Until Andi was sick, it was a fantastic day.

A year ago I had no intention of running a marathon – it was too much of a challenge. My running partner Andi inspired me and we started training together, for the Delaware marathon in May. Unfortunately I became injured and dropped out of training.. She tolerated my whining and self pity when I couldn’t run, she supported and encouraged me as I underwent an active recovery program. She slowed down for me on many training runs; she would bound up a hill ahead of me and then come back down again to run along side of me. It was Andi who took me to Marine Corp. - I’m just a very lucky guy.

Jill Schreiber did a fantastic job of supporting us for the whole weekend, she hopped on and off Metro trains trying to catch sight of us (and trying to catch up with us) – crossing the start line so early meant that we were ahead of the schedule I’d given her. We had past mile 4 before she arrived there with Emily.  She looked after Andi after leaving the medical tent and drove us home – which took forever because of the traffic. Jill you were terrific, thank you so much. I know you’ll have a great marathon in New York next week.

Congratulations to Pat, Tina, Amy, Pam, Keith (his 51st marathon) and of course Andi on completing the marathon.

Lastly, I must thank Fast Tracks. You are a fantastic group of people, who have been so supportive, and fun to be with. Many of you sent me some really sweet messages of support and encouragement – thank you.

I’m officially a marathoner, and I enjoyed getting there

Happy Running


p.s. My long term goal was to run faster than most runners i.e. be faster than 50% of all runners. Yesterday I achieved that for the first time – I was faster than 67% of all runners, and 77% in my division.

Pat Christensen - Marine Corps Marathon, October 2005

After I read everyone else's "story" I had to add my two cents.  I wasn't sure I had anything to add but then I remembered--I'm the view from the back of the second wave and that, too, is an interesting perspective.
Going to the armory on Friday was the beginning of the great weekend that almost "wasn't".  On Monday I had a nasty virus and fever.  I talked to the"running guru"--Joan Osborn--and we agreed I should rest, take my antibiotic, and if I felt well enough, to start off.  If I had to stop I had the Philly marathon in 3 weeks and it would be ok.
At the expo, I handed this tall, good looking marine my id and my hand was shaking.  I told him that I guessed I was a little nervous.  He looked at me solemnly and said:"Did you train?"  I replied:"Yes, sir."  He then said:When did you begin?"  Out came my croaky:"April, sir."  To which he replied:"And what was your longest run?"  I told him I had done four 20milers.  He gave me a huge grin, handed me my papers and said:"You're good to go, Mam."
And so began my magical weekend in DC.  My husband and I enjoyed the expo and then drove the course.  Lee thought it was a beautiful venue--all the monuments and beautiful scenery of DC. We took my picture in front of the Iwo Jima memorial and decided that this would be a "doable" race for me.

Sunday morning was bright and clear and the runners village had lots  bleachers to sit and be excited.  The paratroopers flew in and the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" made me cry.  My wonderful Fast Tracks supporter, Andi Liebermann called me to wish me luck as she took off in the scarlet wave. I couldn't believe she took the time!  Of course, it was Andi and Harry who waited for me the day I did my last 20.  They waited with the bananas and bagels and gatorade so that I wouldn't come back alone.
Finally, they said we could go to the start line. As we got in a small tunnel, I could hear behind me:"Wheel chairs coming through."  We made a corridor, stood at attention, and clapped as they went by.  They were taking off 10 minutes before us.  At that moment, I decided that if they could do it, of course I could do it, no matter what.

Amy, Pam and I were supposed to run with the 5 hour pace group but there was no finding them in the sea of humanity that was there.  In the end it didn't manage, our pace was our pace and 5 hours it wasn't.  We were our own Fast Tracks pace group.  So many things were about Fast Tracks.  Carole Rosen had tod me to wear my name on the front of my shirt.  This was my smartest more.  I put big black stick-on letters on my bright orange shirt (I had a Halloween theme going) that said:"Nonni's first marathon".  Nonni is what my grandson calls me.  As I ran along people yelled out Nonni when they saw it and gave me tons of encouragement
What I didn't expect was to suddenly feel weak and tingle+ly so soon.  I got up Lee Highway ok and through til mile 11 when my brother was going to run a couple of miles with me.  At mile 9 Pam needed to walk for a while and Amy and I ran ahead.  I think that rattled me and I started doubting my ability to do it.  When I saw my brother the first thing I said was:"You don't have to run with me."  I think I was afraid I'd be embarrassed if I decided to stop.  He didn't pay any attention to me. He started telling me about his daughters great soccer game the day before and I drank water, poured water on my head and ate Gu.  I got back in my stride and relaxed a little.  He ran two miles with me hugged me, told me he loved me and that he was proud of me.  Yikes!  I had to keep going.  My husband kept popping up every so often to get a picture, tell me I was doing it and mostly, kept me going. 
Haines point was as grim and desolate as I expected.  I never saw the sculpture.  Luckily, Lee had driven the course with me so I saw all the stuff on Friday.  I never enjoyed one monument or gorgeous vista--I saw the pavement in front of me. 
And finally, finally, there was the 14th street bridge.  This is where I cried.  When I signed up, I read the warning about taking too long and that if you didn't make the bridge by a certain time that the "strugglers bus" would pick you up.  That was my fear.  There it was in front of me. I took out the disposable camera that my husband had given me and took pictures.  I was going to get over the bridge and not be picked up.  I was going to be a marathon+er!  My cousin met me on the bridge and ran to mile 24 with with me.  At this point, Amy and I were running a little walking a little.  It was fine.  It wasn't about time for me--it was about beating the "strugglers bus" and I was one happy camper!  At mile 24, there was Lee and my daughter Meg.  We were both in tears.  At this point, poor Meg got the brunt of my extreme fatigue.  I didn't even want to run anymore.  I figured out what it was like.  I was at the "transition" phase of labor and I just wanted it to stop.  Meg was telling me to run it in and I wanted none of it.  She reminded me that I'd want to go in on Monday and show Joan my medal and tell her I ran it in.  I knew she was right but I really wanted to walk.  So I let Meg's saner head prevail and I ran up that stupid hill to the Iwo Jima memorial.  I remembered to say:"Thank you, lieutenant as she put the medal around my neck.  I turned around and saw Amy and we hugged big time.  We had done it!  the rest was icing on the cake.  Lee took pictures and we went back to my brother's house and had a party.  and Andi called again.  She wanted to know if I finished.  I could tell her I had.  What a feeling.
I couldn't have done it without the support that I had.  It's called the "people"s marathon" because, although there are all the "elite runners", there were people like me.  People who were trying to beat the "strugglers bus" and wanted to join the club of first time marathoners.  There were some miles that I  ran with "special people" on my mind (you  know who you are and what mile I ran for you).  Miles 18-20 were for family and friends that supported this crazy endeavor.

There was one person and one group that I ran the last 2.2 miles for.  The marines were all so special and there were many others who ran in someone's honor.  we had our own special marine that we found out is back home from Irac in the arms of his family.  His name is Ben O'Rourke.  Meg and I ran that last little bit in honor of Ben.  He served his country well and it's an honor to know him.

Am I glad I did it?  You bet.  Would I do it again?  I don't know.  It's Wednesday and my thighs are still sore and the most I can think of is to run with my wonderful Fast Tracks group on Saturday.  I know I can run six.  Piece of cake.

Pat Christensen