On this page I will share my story about training for and running a marathon in February 2012.
For me, it all began with a conversation and a whim. A friend of mine and I were visiting on the University of Florida campus during the first week of November in 2011, and he told me that he and two of his sisters had run a marathon up in Atlanta, Georgia. He proceeded to tell me that they had run it after training for only three months. He said that there was a marathon coming up in just over three months in Jacksonville. I had thought for quite a while that running a marathon would be a cool thing to do someday, but had never really given it any serious thought - until that day. On that day I thought to myself, "Hey, why not? I'm not getting any younger, and it's only going to get harder to train as I get older. If I start training next week I could probably do it!" My family thought I was insane when I told them; however, they humored me, and said that if I persevered and had the willpower, I could do it.
I started training the next week, but started out all wrong. I didn't buy a new pair of running shoes and I tried to increase my running distance much too quickly. In just three weeks I went from running about six miles every other week to running nearly 20 miles in a week. Unfortunately, I seriously injured my foot in the process and had to stop training for two and a half weeks. I felt like I was going two steps forward and three steps back. During the time my foot was healing, I found out what kind of shoes I needed and purchased them. In addition, I discovered that another college student, Suzanne Beard, who attended my church was also planning to participate in the same marathon. As soon as my foot healed, she and I began to run our long runs together. Buying the new pair of shoes and training with a running buddy made all the difference in the world.
We started out running seven miles together, and that distance soon doubled. While many people were spending their Saturday mornings sleeping in, Suzanne and I were running the streets of Gainesville. I learned more about Gainesville in just a couple months of marathon training than I had learned in the previous 10 years of living there. Our long runs culminated three weeks before the marathon with a 20-mile run around Gainesville. However, on our next run, just two weeks until the marathon was to take place, I hurt my right foot. I was afraid that after all of the training, I wouldn't be able to run the marathon after all. Most of my family and friends were telling me that I probably wouldn't be able to run it. I rested my foot, and decided on the last day that I would at least make the trip to Jacksonville. I decided, less than 20 hours before the race, to purchase my running number, and thus, to run the marathon.
The marathon itself was surreal. It was a frigid February morning. I was surrounded by thousands of people of all ages. Some of them were seasoned runners, and some of them were new like me. Some of them were even wearing tutus. When the starting gun fired, my body was stiff from the cold. For the first three miles, my body ached and my foot throbbed. As I ran, my body warmed up and my foot stopped hurting. The next 10 miles were fantastic, and Suzanne and I ran the first half of the marathon in two hours and one minute. I enjoyed waving at the crowds of people who had chosen to brave the cold and cheer us on. The second half, however, was not so kind. I hit "the wall" at about mile 16. This meant that my body started trying to convince me that there wasn't much more energy to keep it going.
At mile 21, I was convinced that I was running more slowly than I could walk. From that point on, I took to employing the start-stop method of marathon running. I would run for a while, and then I would walk for a bit. This helped me gain the strength I needed to finish the last mile strong. When I came close to the finish line, a burst of energy that I hadn't had for the past several hours came upon me and I nearly sprinted to the finish line. I finished the race in hour hours and twenty-three minutes. It was a very proud moment, and one that I will remember for the rest of my life.