Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Well there you have it. 12 months, 10 marathons, 1 50-miler. All finished, all done; a challenge achieved.

(Pictures are coming)

It has been a pretty incredible year with this challenge, tons of ups and downs both while out running and in every other aspect of my life along the way. And because of the nature of my challenge and personality, I paid extra close attention to the entire growing process. I am in the process now of writing a memoir of sorts on the year and about the perspectives of running all those races. The emotional and psychological changes I went through because of and for the running that I did effected my life in such a constant way that I really don't know how I could live my life without always pushing and striving for change. But that is not the purpose of this post; this is all about the 10th and final marathon of the year for me. The 33rd Marine Corps Marathon.

Out of all of them, this was the very first repeat. My first marathon ever in my life was the 32nd Marine Corps and that was one of the greatest memories of my life. This one was a great one too, but had so many other qualities to it that made it completely different. Just like the first one, I met up with a big group at Mayor Fenty's house in NW DC. We loaded into three Navigator's and drove on down to the VIP tent right at the finish line. It was a familiar scene pre-race for me; I ate my bread and fruit, had my sports drink, kept bundled up and about 45 minutes before the starting gun, instead of GU, had a few Cliff Bloks. With about 5 minutes before the gun, we all walked towards the starting line where I looked back to see the 25,000+ runners behind me all eager to get going on this crazy 26.2 mile journey. It was exciting.

What was even more exciting about this one was the amount of people I knew. Most of the Mayor's group I had gotten closer with. I now was referring to the Mayor by name, which I think is pretty cool. I had a client running, another trainer and his client ran it (they met up at the start line just before the gun), and I had a bunch more people along the course that would be yelling for me as I ran by. The one thing that made me a little nervous was the fact that 5 days ago, when i went out for some light sprint work, I wore my fancy new Vibram shoes (see post on running shoes). This left my calves more tight then I have ever felt in my life, and come marathon start time, they were still pretty tight. Oh well, it was nothing that would hold me back, but it was definitely something I was very aware of. We all high fived, said our good lucks, and the gun sounded.

The pace was set pretty quick; we were going fast. By mile five, and this was through the hilliest part of the course, we were averaging a sub-8 minute mile. For reference, that is about two minutes per mile slower then my average marathon pace. We hung together as a group, most of us that is (there were a few real runners in there that took off, finishing well under a 3:30 total time), and just chugged along enjoying the amazing experience of running with so many people through the great city. Around mile 7 my client and friend Andrew met up with me and jumped in to run through Georgetown with me. We chatted and caught up (he's off to college, playing baseball at Princeton), and when he broke off I joined the group again and we headed towards Haines point, my least favorite part of the race next to the 14th Street bridge. This is where the halfway point was and we all felt strong through hat point. But just through that point. Mile 14 is where I crashed. And I crashed hard.

Now here's what I found out. A man of my size, running 10 marathons and a 50 miler, plus hundreds and hundreds of miles in training runs all in 12 months, makes it pretty tough for the body to handle at a very respectable pace. This is also not counting starting a regular Jujitsu practice, lifting on a regular basis and actively training some 30 sessions a week throughout, just to name a few other activities I was involved in through the year.

From that point on in the marathon I was just trying to get to the finish. I felt like I was wearing a 100lbs weight vest and running straight up a ridiculously steep hill the entire way. But I refused to stop. I decided that even if I wouldn't break the 4-hour mark (my goal going into the race), I would at least run the entire race without stopping or walking. And that is what i did. I ran as best I could, step by step, mile by mile, until I crossed that line. I was so certain I would just collapse that I immediately moved to the far side near the fence to catch myself. But it didn't happen. I got my medal, got my space blanket and headed back to the VIP tent to hang with the group and eat some food.

I crossed the line at 4:21, one minute above the male average for the marathon. The crazy thing about it, I felt bad. I even felt a little depressed. I realize now that this was the feeling that a lot of people feel after spending so much time training for such a huge event, and then when it's all done, they have nothing to do. And talk about feeling empty all of a sudden. I had a huge run almost all but one of the months out of the year, and then, just like that, it was all over. I sit now, three days after the run, and it's just starting to hit me now just what I accomplished. Best time of 3:50, worst of 6:18, six just slower than 4 hours and couple in the 4:20-4:30 range. Oh right, and that 50-miler. Man what a year.

Man what a year.
10 marathons.

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

PS - Pictures are coming

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