I had the opportunity to run the 12-12-12 Marathon in Sarasota, Fla. It was quite an experience and was a follow-up marathon from the 11-11-11 Marathon held last year. This was a Marathon Maniac event, promoted as a party disguised as a marathon. The field was limited to 66 full marathoners and 12 half-marathoners.
I prepped for this event much the same as other marathons I have done. The difference was that I had lost a couple of weeks of training about a month ago because of a hamstring pull. A hamstring strain can be quite difficult to recover from but mine seemed to feel quite well. I didn’t get as many long runs (16-20 miles) in as I would have liked to have done prior to a marathon. I like to log three to five long runs in the two months prior to a marathon. This time, I used caution and did two.
The day prior to the marathon I did a 30-minute run and played a round of golf with my brother-in-law. I was in Florida, it’s December — why wouldn’t I take advantage of the weather.
My pre-race eating involves loading with carbs and drinking plenty of water. I think it is just as important to be properly hydrated before a marathon starts as it is to stay hydrated during the race. If you are a bit dehydrated before you start, it won’t take long to get into trouble during the race.
My race day breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal, fruit (preferably a banana), a frappuccino and a Pop-Tart. The Pop-Tart serves absolutely no function other than it is my tradition — I have been doing so for years and probably will continue to do so in the future.
The course was at one of the public parks that had sidewalks going around the perimeter, which amounted to a little less than a half-mile loop. That meant we ran 58 and three-quarters laps. The day of the marathon was warm and humid — typical Florida summer weather. It wasn’t exactly what anyone was hoping for.
I knew that adjustments in strategy would have to be made. I was right. The No. 1 concern was staying hydrated and taking in enough electrolytes. In every marathon I have goals that I set. The No. 1 goal is finish! I then set a time that I would like to do. This can then be broken down into what pace I would need to do. My goal was to run around 3 hours, 50 minutes.
By the halfway point I thought of dropping out. The time goal wasn’t looking that promising. I did a lot of talking to myself about the situation and realized I needed to just relax and enjoy the company of the other runners and pursue the goal of finishing. I did some walking and running segments to get me through. This was a good thing.
The Marathon Maniacs are the most friendly group of runners you can be associated with. Time goals are very secondary to them. It is the pure joy of running and finishing the run. I am glad I threw out the time goal and was able to take time to talk to a lot of people from all over the country.
I did finish. I wasn’t really tired, at the time not sore and felt fine. I actually went out and played another round of golf by myself when I left the marathon. It is better to move around a bit after a run rather than lying down and sleeping. That was plan B.
My hamstring did start hurting in the evening. It just needs a little time again. Now I have to return to the colder climate and bundle up for my runs. That’s all right; it’s just part of experiencing the cycle of the seasons. I feel fortunate that I am able to do what I enjoy.
Doug Yoder is the cross country and track coach at Goshen College. This column was first published Dec. 15 on his Running Around Town blog, which appears on the Goshen Commons web community at www.goshencommons.org.