Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eight Days

I'll be running the Philadelphia Marathon in 8 days. While scanning the Internet for an appropriate image, I accidentally stumbled across this one. I fully expect to need a stretcher when I'm done, but let's hope I don't need the O2 as well.

You see all manner of folks during a marathon. I ran one down the Jersey Shore in 2004. I encountered a 70-plus year old man running in a tuxedo with tails. Early on, as I was reaching about three miles, the then leader of the race zipped by going in the opposite direction (he'd already done seven miles). He zoomed by in a sprint that looked tireless and effortless. Three miles in, and somebody had already more than doubled my distance! Incredible.

I lucked out with the weather my first time around. It hovered between 45 to 50 degrees the whole time, beginning with the sunshine and ending with overcast skies. It drizzled, once or twice, but only for a minute or two.

Along the way, the fans were awesome. At mile 10, some lady was nice enough to say, "You don't look tired at all." I assured her that it was my finest moment of acting. My wife was kindly waiting at mile 11 with a bottle of Gatorade and an energy bar. I sucked down the Gatorade, ate half the bar, and kept the other half for later. Around mile 13, I passed a house that was blasting Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." Perfect timing. I felt great. I was halfway there.

And then it hit me.

The wall.

It was bad. I wanted to stop. I wanted to never run again for as long as I lived. Around mile 15, a live band was performing in front of somebody's house. I hardly heard them. Somehow I managed to reach the energy station at mile 17, where I proceeded to scarf down pretzels, candy, gatorade, and water. I rounded the circle at mile 19, headed back the way I came. That same band was still playing; I still barely heard them. Each step was painful, becoming borderline excruciating. I kept my head down and tried to think of something to take my mind off the agony. It was a weird feeling, trying to get myself to think and not being able to.

Then the pain ceased for awhile. My body had gone numb. That was fine by me. When I reached 23 miles, I realized I was going to make it, and from there, I ran the rest of the race on adrenaline.

The day or two after the race, I must have looked like Frankenstein's monster when I walked around, hobbling, lumbering, awkward.

Don't marathons sound fun?

Good luck to everybody running the Philly Marathon! I'll see you out there next Sunday.



Nick Hughes said...

I hope you kick some major asphalt. Can I come and watch while partying like it's Broad Street or a rainy soap box derby?

Brian O'Rourke said...

You're more than welcome. Jenna, Nate, and Jess will be running too, so you can all place bets on whether I'm dead, alive, going to make it, etc.

If it is raining, I'd recommend you not wear a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals though.