THE FIRST (AND PROBABLY LAST) HORACE-BROCTON MARATHON

You might recall that after four months of training, we got to St. Louis, only to have the Lewis & Clark marathon called off due to rain last week, after two previous attempts (2007 & 2006) that went bad after knee injuries.

After stewing about it for a few days, it became apparent that I wasn’t going to be getting to any other marathons. The Chicago marathon was closed. There were two marathons up in the Indianapolis area in the next month, but I’ve got police training then, so no luck there.

In the end, I decided that we needed to have our own marathon: the 1st ever Horace-Brocton marathon. Its 13 miles from my mailbox to Brocton, so if I ran there and back, plus my driveway, I’d be going 26.2 miles—the exact distance needed.

A friend had a can of spray paint that they use to mark the road, so I marked off each mile. It really helps to have those mile markers, so you can tell yourself “just run one more mile.” Then you gut it out for 10-11 minutes, and then tell yourself that again.

On “race” day, I was getting pretty excited about the challenge coming up. After church, I went home and set out containers at miles 2/24, 4/22, 6/20, 8/18, 10/16, and 12/14. Each held a bottle of water, Gatorade, and a couple zip-lock baggies with some toilet paper.

In real marathons, they have porta-potties at aid stations along the route. Since I didn’t have a porta-potty, I had to get creative. I’m not above stepping inside a cornfield (just between us), but I draw the line at using the corn!

I also left several packets of Gu (a 100 calorie sucrose formula used for quick energy) at several key points along the way to help keep my energy levels up. Typically, you take 3 or 4 during a 26.2 mile run.

After warming up and stretching for a few minutes, I started the timer in my watch and hit the road. The watch would help me figure out my pace each mile, so I’d know if I was on track to finish in less than 5 hours.

That’s actually pretty slow for a marathon. Most people finish them between 4 and 4 ½ hours. Really good runners finish in 3 ½ hours. Amazing runners get done in 3 hours, and experts do it in 2 ½ hours. World class runners come in around 2:05 to 2:10.

The first few miles went well and the weather was pretty good. It was partly cloudy and there was a cool breeze. I was doing about a 10:30 pace and thinking that this might be the time I actually made it all the way through one of these things.

At mile 7 the wind really picked up, and I noticed a storm brewing up ahead. The skies got dark and I started seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder. I said a quick prayer for protection. I wasn’t worried about running in the rain, but a million volts could be a big problem.

Around mile 10, the winds got very strong, and I can’t remember ever running into such resistance. It really slowed things down, but I was keeping pretty cool.

At mile 11, my hips really started hurting. No matter how much running I do, or training in the gym, it never seems to help the hip flexors. They just go crazy on long runs. Some people are good at blocking out the pain. I’ll have to talk to them.

Someone also ripped off my container at mile 12. I figured they’d see the mile markers, water and stuff, and leave them alone. Wrong. I guess they needed it for storing stuff. At least they had the courtesy to leave behind a water bottle.

Finally I hit the edge of Brocton, followed by a nice doggy I’d picked up along the way. I reached the halfway mark at 2:24, in front of the bank. Not my fastest half-marathon time—I’d done a 2:15 in the spring, but that was not holding anything back.

This time, I was trying to be conservative, with half the race still to go. The cool thing was that I’d actually run to Brocton, and was half-way through the race. The bummer was that I was only half-way and still had to go home.

Turning around, I cruised back through town and headed back up the Horace-Brocton road. I ran through a few minor sprinkles, but the big storm just kind of went around me. Prayers do get answered.

Mile 14 and 15 came and went, and I was feeling a little cramping in my left thigh. I’d only eaten a half banana a couple hours before the run and should have had a whole one. When you’re low on potassium, the muscles don’t relax as well.

It got a little better after my Gatorade kicked in, but it must have been a sign of things to come, because next, my old nemesis came calling. Over the last two years, I’ve had knee problems in the upper miles.

At mile 16, my Ilio-Tibial Band (ITB) syndrome showed up in full force. I’d faced it in the last long run (20 mile) a couple weeks back when it kicked in at 19.5 miles. So, I’d backed off the training to get it some rest before the race.

Unfortunately, the inflammation (where the band rubs at the knee joint) made running extremely painful. I toughed it out for a couple more miles, but had to walk every ¼ mile to relieve the pressure.

And in between walks, there wasn’t much running going on either. At one point, I thought I saw a cricket pass me in just three hops. It could have been delirium, though. Finally, I just called it quits at mile 19, with only 7 miles to go.

You see, I’ve already done three marathons where I had to walk through to the finish and didn’t really want to do that again. Besides, my cutie-pie’s 8th birthday party was tonight, and everyone would be arriving in little more than an hour.

So now I’m 0 for 4 marathon attempts. On the plus side, I got 16 pretty good miles before the other shoe dropped and 19 miles if you count the walking. I guess there’s always next year!

But next week, I’ll have the results from week one of Biggest Loser “5.” There’s still time if you want to participate. We’ve got 50 people started, and have a little room left too. Just let me know before Friday, and we’ll get you going!

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