I’m not one to typically share my thoughts in writing, but the blog seems to be a part of the RUR thing, so I’ll put in my two cents. As for a race report, I don’t remember much about the marathon I ran in Rehoboth last week except that is was bloody cold, the last two miles were excruciatingly painful, and the post-race Dogfish Head never tasted so good. Mostly, I would like to just say a word (and make a little confession) about running in general.
Honestly, I never really understood runners. My 20’s were spent mountain biking and skiing at every opportunity. As a young and arrogant ski bum, my assumption was that these were some of the toughest and most extreme sports one could participate in. I hiked and skied many peaks, rode a 24 hr mountain bike race, and routinely pushed my physical limits. Running had always seemed too simple or dare I say, easy, to me (I know, blasphemy…take away his RUR mug). As is the case with things we have never tried, our assumptions about them can be completely wrong.
I started running with RUR in the early spring. Though this group could get just about anybody exited about running, I caught the running bug quickly and decided to give a marathon a try. How hard could it be, right? I quickly found out that running is. . .hard as hell. Running a marathon was one of the most physically difficult things I have ever done (the race itself as well as the months of training leading up to it).
As for the Rehoboth marathon, I was doing alright until mile 24, when my body starting failing. I felt like all the muscles in my legs were on the verge of cramping. I skipped the last 2 aid stations because I was sure my legs would seize up if I slowed down or changed pace. My left hip was throbbing, but I’d become used to that over the last few months of training. The real killer was my right knee which suddenly started feeling like a knife was being jabbed into the side with every stride. I was fairly convinced that I was doing some serious damage to my knee, but there was no way I was stopping 2 miles from the finish. I have since figured out that this was my IT band, which has still not heeled 1 week post race day. I can’t recall needing assistance walking down a flight of stairs after any day of skiing, hiking, or biking, but I did after this race. You might argue that I’m a little older now, but repetitively pounding your feet on pavement or trail for over 26 miles will never be easy.
I’m also finding the joy in running. It is a mentally versatile sport – by that I mean you can run with a head full of anger and finish feeling purged, get into a meditative rhythm and crank out mileage with nearly a care, or enjoy the social aspects of running with a group. Running with RUR is mostly the latter and I can’t image exercising with a better group of people. Forgive a generalization here, but it seems that runners have a lot less ego than I’ve found in other sport subcultures. It might just be this group of like-minded RUR people, but it seems like runners are generally congenial and friendly folk.
Well, that’s my confession and apology to all those runners out there whom I silently disrespected over the years – I’ve been humbled by this “simple” sport and have a whole new appreciation for long distance running.
Finally, some lessons from my first marathon experience:
Good ideas include Band-aids on sore nipples, spending more than $50 on running shoes, finding someone running your pace early in the race and partnering up, taking off your gloves at the aid stations to keep them dry (thanks for that one Lori), and pinching the cup in order to get more fluid in your mouth than on the front of your shirt (I would thank Lori for this one too, but she gave me this tip AFTER the race).
Bad ideas include trying to eat a Cliff bar when it is below freezing outside and attempting an unrehearsed wardrobe change half way through a race resulting in your shoes getting stuck in your tights (Thanks M. Keane for the rescue).