Ich bin ein Marathoner!

Early Thanksgiving morning, about 5 a.m. I got up and put on my running clothes. A timing chip was attached to my left shoe. I was headed to Turner Field to attempt the Atlanta Marathon, my first marathon and the fulfillment of a dream I’d had for many years.

Working for me were determination, several months of training and the well-wishes of my friends and family. On the other side were the course itself, one of the toughest marathon courses in Atlanta, and the fact that my longest training run of twenty miles had been almost a month previous.

So I really had no idea how this thing was going to play out. For all I knew I’d hit the wall and still be out there Friday morning, shuffling down the sidewalk and muttering about sports drinks.

That didn’t happen. I felt great through the first ten miles, down Piedmont Avenue from Turner Field all the way to the intersection with Peachtree Street, which I turned north onto. I was only feeling a little tired when I got to the turnaround on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, which was just before the halfway point. Here’s where my optimism began to outweigh my fears: several veterans had told me if I made it to the turnaround I’d definitely finish. I was starting to believe them.

Right after the turnaround I reached the halfway point. The electronic pad here detected my chip at 2:23. Remember that time; it’ll be important later.

Back down Peachtree. Atlanta Marathon isn’t a true out-and-back, because it never turns back onto Piedmont and instead goes straight down Peachtree back to the stadium.

Fortunately, this means it’s mostly level or downhill from the turnaround to mile 20. Unfortunately, this also means the last 6.2 miles are mostly uphill.

And by Mile 21, I was in agony. I’ve run dozens of 10k races and four half-marathons in the past, and I’ve never hurt like this before. So I started reciting my mantra:

Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!

It’s my favorite cinematic example of mind over matter, and it usually keeps me going. It worked again in this case.

On through Midtown, past the Fox Theater, then up to Five Points. I made the short but awful climb up Capitol Avenue, then turned back onto Hank Aaron Drive. The Olympic Rings were in sight!

I crossed the I-20 overpass and saw the chute to the finish line. Several of my hasher friends were there, cheering me in and yelling “Beer Near!” I forgot the pain as my mental state revved up into euphoria.

Seconds later I bounded across the finish line and there was a blur of activity around me. I was handed my finisher medal, a race volunteer cut the chip off my shoe, someone else wrapped a disposable reflective-material space blanket around my shoulders, and my friend JoAnna ran into my embrace. There were tears in my eyes.

“I’m a marathoner, JoAnna!” I screamed.

“Yes, you’re one of us now!” she replied, laughing. No matter how long I live I’ll look back on this as one of the greatest moments in my life…right up there with earning my Navy commission, or getting my first laugh with my standup act.

My time was 4:46. Frank Shorter has nothing to worry about, sure, but check it out: I stayed exactly on pace in the back half! How cool is that?

Now, three days later, I’m still in a lot of pain. My left foot is badly blistered. My leg muscles, ankles, knees and hips are all sore. I expected that; what surprises me is that my shoulders, neck and the base of my spine all hurt too. I did some damage to myself, no question.

But the injuries will heal and the pain will subside. What won’t change, what can’t change now, is: I’m a marathoner!

Wow Five, very impressive.

I got tired just reading about this race. :wink:

You must have experienced that “runners high” in the second half of that race.

I get the same “runners high” when I make it back from the fridge before the game comes back on.

<Slaps Five on the back>

Way to go! It’s an amazing feeling, isn’t it ? Kudos for keeping your pace, way too easy to get overambitious on the first part of the run.

I do hope the hashers down-downed you for ambitious running ?

So, when is the next one ? (Admit it, you want to do another one, right ?)

S. Norman

Spiny Norman

Well, of course. But I accepted it with pride. I even wore my shirt to the next hash. But, I’ve been wearing the shirt for four days now.

Naturally! Now that I know I can finish, I want to see how fast I can finish. Surely inside of a year I can break four hours, I’m thinking.

I’ll probably run the Tybee Island Marathon in Savannah, Georgia next. I like the idea of a flat marathon run entirely at sea level!

Great work Five! Nice to see another runner on the board.
If you check this thread again, please read this page and tell me what you think.
I hope to one day run a marathon as well.
Once again, nice work.

On a running-related note, Emil Zatopek died Tuesday, November 21, 2000. :frowning:

Congratulations, Five!

A whole marathon…wow. I am not a runner and even if I was…well, I am IMPRESSED.

Flat marathons are - well, “nice” is not a word easily associated with marathons, I suppose “preferable” will do.

Was that a “big” marathon ? One thing I’ve found extremely motivating is to have a huge crowd cheering you on - really picks you up when your tail is dragging.

The most amazing crowd I’ve experienced was at the Hanse-marathon in Hamburg. As part of the preparations, a paper with name, nationality and numbers are distributed along the route. I was really feeling down at one point, when a bunch of complete strangers started calling out my name. Apparently they’d seen me losing focus, checked out my number, found my name and started cheering me on. With support like that, how can you NOT come through ? That and the free beer in the target area.

Congrats again. Sheesh, now I suppose I’ll have to get in shape for Hanse 2001.

Unfortunately, Spiny Norman, the Atlanta Marathon is a very small affair. It’s put on by the Atlanta Track Club, and no prizes are awarded, so only local runners tend to show up for it. And since it’s held on Thanksgiving Day (a major holiday here in the States) the crowds are embarrassingly sparse.

Aside from the race volunteers and cops for traffic control, I saw only a handful of spectators every few blocks. Almost all my motivation had to come from within.

The Hanse-marathon people sound like they know what they’re doing. I’m going to see if I can run the New York Marathon next year; it draws the largest live audience of any sporting event in the world (over a million people line the course). Sweet.

Thanks to all of you for your congratulations.

Let me throw in my congrats as well. Welcome to the self-abuse club!

No doubt you’re already thinking “I bet I can break 4:30 next time.” NY is a great place to do it…crowds the whole way.

Oh, and by the way, the reason you did so well is you ran your 20 miler exactly when you were supposed to…plenty of time to recover. Besides the last two weeks before the race don’t matter…all you can do is hurt yourself if you try to over do it. Bill Rodgers once said in the last two weeks you should ease up to the point where you think you’re going to lose conditioning…and then ease up some more.

Great job! See you on the streets.

I’m not a runner (hey 0 the first marathoner DIED form right, right?) but I know a few. 2 notes: NY fills fast, get applications ASAP. It also is not a fast course. It isn’t flat. Have fun on the Queensboro bridge. Chicago is somewhat faster.

“… there is no money in journalism. But there is ACTION, and action is an easy thing to get hooked on… that why I finally drilled Ralph out of his castle in Kent for a trip to Hawaii and a look at this strange new phenomenon called “running”.” - Hunter S Thompson, Honolulu, Dec 7th, 1980.

I never could get into the whole jogging ethos. It’s strictly a matter of knee trouble (honest!), nothing to do with my fitness. When I’ve attempted it in the past the only view I’ve enjoyed is my own feet and the wobbly horizon as I collapse. So I commend thee and give you a high Five! I’m sure my barrier is 50% mental (a life-long impairment) and thus half the battle lost before I begin.

Sometimes the constant use of German in this bord scares me :slight_smile:


For those who know, the end of your first marathon is an incredible mix of complimentary and opposite feelings. The moment you are done you definitely are glad that it is over. Yet, in that same moment, comes the sense of how sad it is that this magnificent race is over. Perhaps the end of life is a bit like this.

Congratulations, take a week off and start to plan your next marathon!!

Remember this mantra: Start slow and taper down!

The Germ


I’m not sure what to think, AETBOND417. It looks credible as a strategy for running a marathon in a certain time, but then, speed training has never been one of my specific goals prior to now. Are you currently doing Yasso 800’s as part of your training regimen?