Hi everyone… I had a bit of an adventure last week. My parents and little sister came to visit in Seattle, and we took a 7-night cruise to Alaska.
A few years ago the ship we were on caught on fire during a Caribbean cruise, but nothing exciting like that happened on our trip. There wasn’t a whole lot to do at sea other than watch the glaciers go by (which was indeed pretty cool), so we had to create our own excitement.
I decided to run a full marathon (26.2 miles, or 42.2 kilometers) on the jogging track during our day of scenic cruising through Tracey Arm, Alaska.
I headed out about 6:00 a.m. with my Dad and did the first six miles slowly, then the second six miles a bit quicker after a cup of coffee and a banana. For about six miles in the middle, I went to the fitness room to run on the treadmill for some variety, but other than that and another quick stop to eat some orange slices, I ran the whole marathon around the track, which turned out to be more challenging than I expected.
My final time was well beyond four hours, which is a pretty slow marathon time. The average time for men is 4:12, but that estimate includes a lot of casual joggers. In my previous two marathons, I ran 3:35 and 3:32, which puts me in the top 20-25% of male competitors. My long-term goal is to run 3:10 or less, which will be in the top 10% and allow me to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
For this one, however, I was not concerned about the time at all, and I deliberately ran slowly in the beginning. I wanted to be careful to prevent injury while on the family trip, and there were also a few unique challenges not usually featured in more conventional races—strong winds, lots of non-running passengers standing around the track (!) all morning, and the fact that I had eaten a lot of desserts in the couple days before the race.
A lot of non-runners do not realize how long a marathon is, and they are easily impressed when they find out it takes almost everyone at least three hours to finish. Throughout the morning, other passengers would come and go up to the jogging track and express surprise at seeing me still there.
The Fourth-Hour Battle
This was my third marathon, and each time I have forgotten what an epic battle it can be. I can usually run 12-14 miles (about two hours) with no problems, and then I start to struggle a bit in the third hour, which is usually as far as I train for. It’s that fourth and final hour—however long it ends up being—that is very difficult for me to train for.
In this case, I completely ran out of energy around mile 19 and ended up walking much of the final 7 miles. I wasn’t totally happy about that, but at the same time, it was still a complete marathon in a totally unique location. My family said that I “won” the race, which is easy to do when you are the sole competitor.
The next couple of days I was pretty sore, and I opted out of walking around the towns we stopped in. But by the time we made it back to Seattle a couple of days later, I was well enough to run four miles at a decent pace. I didn’t feel like doing another 22.2 right away, but I was happy with the accomplishment.
Thanks a lot to my support team (pictured below), who graciously got up early and helped me count down the 262 laps required to complete the marathon.
From top left- Mile 18; Half of the Support Team; Worn-out at the Finish; a Post-Marathon Snack (click to enlarge).
I have a big trip planned in two weeks’ time, but until then, I’ll be working and writing in Seattle. My upcoming manifesto, A Brief Guide to World Domination, will be released next week.
The manifesto is a completely free PDF report, and you can get your own copy on Tuesday morning, June 24th. I’ll be looking for some help in spreading the word about the launch, so expect an update about how you can do that before the end of the week.
In the meantime, please sign up for email updates or the RSS feed if you haven’t done so already. You’ll get all of my updates, from crazy marathon stories to world domination tips, direct to your Inbox or RSS reader.
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