I completed [my first] a half-marathon yesterday morning [Club
North Shore H-M in Highland Park] and the experience was all
that I expected and more. Even though the last couple of
miles of the race was less than thrilling, I am already
looking-forward to the next one.
Would like to hear the experience of others who have gone on
to run marathons after a half-marathon (esp. 2+ hr runners): am
considering the Chicago marathon in the Fall of 1997. Goal
is to be able to complete it without injury (4:30 would be a
very optimistic time). Have heard of the CARA clinic for marathons
- any opinions vis-a-vis its pros and cons? On a related note,
here are some more queries in the same vein:
(1) Can I get back to my old running schedule right away or
should I wait until next week?
(2) How much gap should one typically give between two races?
Can I run a race next month for instance (10K or 20K)?
(3) I do have Galloway's book on running. How do I best
adapt it to my current schedule for a marathon, and
when should I start on the program?
Have enjoyed reading many of the postings on r.r. Thanks go to
Doug Freese for his many running tips and suggestions via e-mail.
Thanks in advance.
P.S.: A recap (for what it's worth) of the half-marathon and the days
leading to the same follows.
A Half-Marathon to Remember
June 8, 1997
The thought of running a marathon someday did pique my imagination
and interest last year. I have all along been fairly enthusiastic
about running (my limitations notwithstanding), but have seemingly
never laid out a plan to ever run in a long-distance race. Last
August I set the ball rolling (so to speak) by making running a
regular part of my regimen, and trying to keep up to it every
A marathon is a rather daunting task for someone (like me) with
little experience. In order to gauge my ability, and more importantly
the physical and mental demands of such a high-endurance race, I
thought a half-marathon to start with would be a step in the right
direction. To that end, I set plans for a half-marathon in Spring.
I was by the beginning of this year running around 21 miles (7 miles
x 3 days) per week at 9-10 min/mile pace; once or twice a month, I
also did a 10+ mile run. A nagging calf injury set the clock back in
April, which sent me into physical therapy for a month: a combination
of probably excessive running and bad form (heel strike was absent)
proved to be my undoing. I got back to cautious running around a month
and a half ago, and within 3-4 weeks, I was back to running close to
my old weekly mileage. I had missed the Lake County Half Marathon in
April due to the injury, and the Club North Shore Half Marathon on
June 8 did loom even larger. Even though I wasn't sure if I was `in
shape' to run the race so soon after an injury, I did not want to
miss what was probably going to be the last half-marathon during
this spring/summer in this area. I decided to go ahead with the June
8 race: the mind-set being just to run (and not race) in order to
complete the half-marathon sans any injury.
The Tuesday before the race, I ran a 9 miler (my maximum distance
after the injury) at a comfortable pace, and on Saturday, the day
before the race, I went for a 2 mile jog in the morning. Had a heavy
lunch (no pasta or spaghetti though) and very little food thereafter.
Did drink water at fairly regular intervals during the evening/night.
I slept at 11pm, with plans to wake-up at 6am. It wasn't to be so! Was
wide awake at 2:30am and sleep was a forgotten concept. I got out
of bed at 5am, and was all set by 6:30am. A friend dropped me off at
Wolter's field (the start/finish point) in Highland Park. I stretched
out, drank water and Gatorade, and felt pretty good with no signs of
any aches and pains. There were around 750 runners: the first time
that I was amidst so many runners. The temperature was around 60
degrees with very high humidity (94%).
The gun went off at 8:00am sharp. The route was pretty nice: early
part of the race took us through residential neighborhoods with
rolling hills along the way, followed by a stretch along the Greenbay
trail, before getting back on the road. Was warned about the steep
hill at mile 9. I ran at a comfortable initial pace (mile 1 at 9:52,
mile 2 at 19:00), and was at mile 6 at 56:05. I did manage to engage
in some talk with the odd runner for a few minutes on couple of
occasions. The rolling hills (although not very steep) were something
I had never experienced during my regular runs in Evanston (very flat
terrain). Nevertheless, I seemed to feel very comfortable and was
not unduly exerting myself at the pace that I had set. Did make it a
point to drink water at all stops (2.5 miles apart); a pity that
Gatorade (my preference) was not available at the stops. All the
volunteers were great, and some even put-in a word or two of
encouragement from time to time.
The turning point (in more ways than one) awaited me at mile 9. At
Fort Sheridan, a steep descent with the breath-taking sight of Lake
Michigan in the backdrop appeared to be the panacea for all pain. It
turned out to be a short-lived joy: the descent was immediately
followed by a sharp turn which brought one face-to-face with the
dreaded hill at mile 9. It was only a 150-200m ascent over a steep
incline (50-60 degrees I would estimate); however, the timing could
not have been worse. Many runners chose to just walk-up the hill,
while I slowly ran up. I reached the top of the hill and realized
that `walking up might have been the better part of valor': my thighs
and hamstring seem to have tightened all of a sudden. I continued on
at a slightly slower pace as the discomfort seemed to increase. Made
it to mile 11 at the 1:46 mark, and I was all but drained out, both
in terms of energy, as well as with the pain in my thighs. I thought
I had ample time on my hands to complete 2.1 miles before the 2:15
target, and hence decided to walk it out, lest I should end-up on the
injured list! Started to walk which in itself was a none-too happy
prospect: could barely move with every step for my thighs seemed to
be numb with pain. Walked for the most part, and when I could hear
the announcer blaring out names on the microphone, I realized the end
wasn't far. Managed to jog through the last 400m or so to end-up at
2:13:42.4! All the agonizing pain over the last couple of miles had
transformed into sheer exhilaration - a feeling that is hard to
express in words. Apart from the fatigue and strain of the run, I was
very thirsty and hungry - had couple of bananas, an apple, and four
glasses of Gatorade, which brought me back to earth. Even though
I most likely finished in the bottom 5-10% of all runners, the
satisfaction is no less, which is in stark contrast to defeats in
other sports which are a lot more demoralizing. Relaxed for half an
hour before taking a one mile walk to the Metra train station, and
was soon homeward bound to Evanston. All in all a very gratifying day
which culminated with a sense of accomplishment . . . . and hope
that this was just the first of many such experiences.
N. Sukumar Home Phone: (708)491-1522
Theoretical & Applied Mechanics Work Phone: (708)467-3154
WWW: http://pubweb.acns.nwu.edu/~suku/home.html ** GO BLAZERS **