Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Despite arriving at the starting corrals mere minutes before the starting gun fired, I meandered through the crowds with all the urgency of the Maytag repair man. I was nervous on the inside but I refused to let it show, figuring that my exterior Joe Cool attitude would override my nerves, or at the very least cause my exterior Joe Plumber to hike up his shorts a little. I elbowed my way into the starting corrals and we started walking towards the start. The plan was to run the first 10 miles at a 10 minute pace, run the second 10 miles at a 9:45 pace and finish the final 10K at a 9:30 pace, but I was well aware that I might slow down as the race wore on instead of speeding up.

Five minutes after the gun souned I reached the starting line and started out at a 10 minute pace. The sky was clear, the terrain was flat and I was surprised to find myself enjoying the run. I smiled at the thought that I was running a marathon, I was actually doing it. Over the first 10 miles there wasn’t much to report except a guy running in cargo shorts and a polo shirt, needless to say I passed him but not before I snapped a picture of him (right). I also saw a guy wearing a shirt that said “Since my lame family is not here please yell ‘Go Jeff!’” which made me laugh.

I hit mile 10 feeling good, feeling refreshed and I started to drop my pace down to the 9:45 range. Somewhere around mile 14 I made the transition from working to keep my pace in check to working to maintain my pace. Candis and the boys were waiting for me just past the mile 15 marker, I stopped for a good luck kiss, some gels and quick application of bodyglide to my sweaty undercarriage (applied by me, not Candis. She was supportive, but not that supportive).

The real low point of the race came shortly after my pit stop. Mile 16 was longer than Gone With The Wind. My legs started to get tired, my head wanted to call it quits and I began seriously debating just taking a DNF. I slowed to a walk for this internal struggle. I called Candis and she told me to get going, she read me some of the comments that you were all leaving on her updates and I somehow managed to start running again. I struggled through mile 16 and was struggling through mile 17 when R. Kelly’s I Believe came up on my playlist. It was the boost I needed. I was running again, I was even running a sub 10 minute pace again.

At mile 21 I felt my pace starting to slow, I knew I was going to have to use Nitmos’ war of posts approach to the remaining miles and I cursed him for entering my thoughts during a marathon, and for being right, and for existing. I walked through all the water stops from mile 21 through the end, I stopped occasionally to stretch my quads because they were starting to get really tight, but each time I stopped I managed to start shuffling my feet forwards again.

My kids were at the final turn before the finish line, I gave them both a high five and ran to the finish. I even had enough energy left for a little Wizzard of Oz heel kick as I crossed the finish line (video and pictures to come later). It was over. All I felt was relief. I was relieved that it was over, I was relieved that I didn’t stop at mile 16. My official time is posted as 4:31:06, which is a PR since this is my first marathon. Here’s a quick recap of my race goals as originally posted here, and my splits. I’ll have more about the race and meeting up with Razz, including more pictures and video in the coming days. Thanks to all of you who read this demented little blog for encouraging me and supporting me, especially to those of you who left comments during the race, you all mean more to me than I’ll ever let on. Thanks.

Original Goals
  1. Start the marathon. - CHECK!
  2. Finish the marathon. - CHECK!
  3. Finish the marathon in an upright position. - CHECK!
  4. Finish the marathon with a time under 4 hours 30 minutes. - Close, I’m going to give myself a Semi-Check!
  5. Finish the marathon with a time under 4 hours 15 minutes. - Nope.
  6. Finish the marathon with a smile on my face. - CHECK!
  7. Finish the marathon with a time under 4 hours. - Hahahahahahahah, nope.
  8. Qualify for Boston - requires a time of 3:10:59 (my computer audibly chuckled when I wrote that). - Nope.
  9. Set a new marathon world record - requires a time of 2:03:58 or better. - Nope.
  10. Take it easy and enjoy myself. - Surprisingly, CHECK!

Mile 1 10:11
Mile 2 10:00
Mile 3 10:08
Mile 4 9:56
Mile 5 10:23 (Pee Break)
Mile 6 9:43
Mile 7 9:49
Mile 8 9:50
Mile 9 9:58
Mile 10 9:53
Mile 11 9:43
Mile 12 9:38
Mile 13 9:48
Mile 14 10:07 (Pee Break)
Mile 15 9:46
Mile 16 11:02
Mile 17 10:33
Mile 18 9:58
Mile 19 9:49
Mile 20 9:56
Mile 21 10:54
Mile 22 11:57
Mile 23 10:30
Mile 24 12:00
Mile 25 11:25
Mile 26 11:53


  1. Congrats, Vanilla. First one's the hardest...

  2. Congratulations! You achieved all the important goals and I'm looking forward to seeing the hell kick.

  3. YAY Vanilla!!! I stayed in and got every message Candis posted, I was THAT happy for you!

    You are a marathoner....=)

    Now lemme go read that report!!!

  4. Congrats Vanilla!!!. I came out of lurking during your race so I'm glad to hear the comments helped ;)
    So when is the next Marathon?

  5. COngrats on a great race!! Nice job....too bad we didn't see eachother...I was probably laying on the ground, which may explain how you missed me. Good job! Jess

  6. Congrats and great job! Now, you can mark the fourth race category in which I am faster than you. I had a similar problem with Nitmos during my (faster) marathon.

    Too soon? Cheers!

  7. Great job! Just think, the biggest improvement usually comes between the first and second marathon. So...when's the second??

    Glad I could haunt your marathon. I trust I was cackling maniacally. I remember doing so around midday Sunday for no apparent reason.


  8. Congrats on finishing! What a great checklist. I just signed up to do my first and can't wait to have a checklist like that! Glad you had so much fun and I love that T-shirt Idea, I'm for sure doing that!

  9. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

    I'm a fraction more scared of my first now, thanks. And I didn't think that was possible.

  10. Great job Ian. I can so relate to the mile 16 thing. Happened to me last time, too.
    You did it! You're a marathoner!

    Now you never have to do it again if you don't want to.

  11. Hey, what happened to the 0.2 of a mile at the end of your splits? If you've come up with a way to vaporize it please share it with the world!

    Nice running!

  12. I completely forgot about the guy with the polo shirt and cargo pants. I thought that was a hallucination.

  13. Great race report, I too ask "when is the next one?"

  14. Way to go, Vanilla! Very good report, too. You fought the tendency to go on and on and on the way some bloggers do.

    I hate those guys.

  15. Long time lurker - congrats! I've enjoyed reading this report and your training stories! Can't wait for more, even if it isn't for another marathon!

  16. Fantastic effort and aren't you glad you did it eh!

  17. Congrats Vanilla! You rock! Congrats on finishing your first marathon! Now you've got a PR to beat...when's the next one?

    Rest up:)

  18. Congrats again! My favorite part of this post is the subtle implication that you're gonna do another one.
    I'm waiting until I can go down stairs without turning sideways before I pick my next one, but you should know that I bring Sox caps as gifts when I crash at people's houses for a race.

  19. Congrats! You achieved the best stuff, and even with the struggle after mile 15, you still came in at an awesome time!

    But dude, I think you have to hand in your "man card" after divulging that you found motivation from an R. Kelly song.

  20. Congrats on your first and last marathon. I mean, you're not really gonna put yourself through that again are you?
    Anything that requires bodyglide on your "undercarriage" should not be repeated.

  21. Mile 16 is the highest point on this hilly course. No wonder you hit the wall. Seriously, I'd love to do a 4:31 marathon.

    How did you feel with the lower elevation? could you tell the difference?

    Congrats. We were near the finish line around the same time. I yelled 'vanilla' at the top of my lungs, but the only one to respond was the lady maning the chocolate milk both. Yes, they had vanilla.

  22. Congrats. Rest up and enjoy the moement. You are a marathoner now and nobody can take that away from you. Remember the first one is usually the slowest.

  23. Awesome job Ian, congratulations.

  24. Nice race report, especially the times with the explanations (pee break).

    Just tell me there won't be a shave your marathon contest.

  25. Congratulations!!! That is an awesome time for your first marathon!!!

  26. WTG!

    You are a marathoner now!

    Get recovered and start planning for the next one or else you will be bitten by the "marathon blue" bug, soon.

  27. WTG!

    You are a marathoner now!

    Get recovered and start planning for the next one or else you will be bitten by the "marathon blue" bug, soon.

  28. Great job on the race! Great job on the post! Great job on referencing two of my favorite movies (even if one is as long as mile 16)!!

  29. Congratulations! You did a phenomenal job. Wear that medal with pride. You more than earned it.

  30. Good work, man! Never Quit, and Never Surrender, even at a mile 16 moment of self pity. You persevered and accomplished most of your GEN Petreaus list of goals.

    Echoing what Nitmos wrote, when's #2? Don't you have a calendar with races written in across the full year!

  31. Congrats on a great race Vanilla! Way to push through and still finish with a smile on your face!

  32. Great job Vanilla!! So where can we expect your celeb appearance again? :P

  33. Congrats on finishing!!! I just completed the Disney World Marathon and my splits at each mile very closely resemble yours! I have really enjoyed reading your blog and it has become a daily activity. I have also started a running blog and hope you'll check it out:

    Keep up the good runs!!!

  34. Hurray! You're a marathoner!

    (you can't see, but I'm 'raising the roof' for ya!)

  35. Congrats and well done! You beat me by 1:52, dang it. I'm going to have to run another one to put you in your place. :)

  36. Congrats, Vanilla!!! How does it feel to have achieved The Marathon finally?!

    I totally know what you mean by "mile 16 being longer than GWtW," but my kilometer (that's 0.62 miles--ugh) 36 just went on and on and on. I swear they mis-measured it.

  37. Congratulations Vanilla! I wish I had been online on Sunday to send a comment. I hope you enjoy your well deserved rest

    (and I think Jeff has my new favourite t-shirt. Go Jeff!)

  38. Congratulations!!!!

    And I'm totally making a shirt like Jeff's - I LOVE IT.

  39. Van, you are an absolute inspiration. Thanks so much for doing it, posting about it, and making me laugh about it. You're my hero.

    Now I'm up for a marathon, although probably not until 2010. See you then!

  40. Did you not know that you can delete pee breaks from your time? Therefore you beat your 4:30 goal!

  41. Congratulations Vanilla! it was a little scary with knee issue but you made it!

  42. Congrats Vanilla! The first one will suck compared the next (and the next and the next...).

    I always find it amazing how you get that last little burst of energy out of no where in the final yards of a race.

  43. I blame google reader for not alerting me to this fantastic news!

    Well done and congratulations! Just don't compare it to childbirth and everyone will escape unscathed.


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