Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

    BOILHAM   33,417
30,000-39,999 SparkPoints

From 5K to Marathon In One Year.

Voted Popular Blog Post: View All Popular Posts

Sunday, November 04, 2012

On December 3, 2011 I ran my first race, a 5K in Orlando, FL. I had just turned 65 years old. This was after about 10 weeks of training, which started quite innocently as a way to lose a few pounds. I enjoyed it so much I thought I'd try to do a 5K.

Fast forward just about one year, and I have completed my 1st Marathon. The Savannah Rock N Roll Marathon, on November 3, 2012.

Having started only a year ago, I had no idea how this was going to go. Oh yeah, I had my secret hope of finishing in a certain time, but what do I know, it was all guess work. I had no idea how difficult this task would be. To further complicate matters, I had recently been in a small accident, where I hit my ribs and back a good shot. I have been in pain for the last 2 weeks and wasn't sure how that would affect my race. As it turns out, that was to be the least of my worries. In fact, the ribs hardly hurt at all once I got going. My feet and knees, which had given me trouble in the past also turned out to be almost perfect. Very little pain or discomfort. What did come upon me, was very serious leg cramps later in the race! This never happened during training, so was a complete surprise to me! I toughed it out, stretched as much as I could and was able to finish.

We got to the start line very early, and had to hang around for over an hour to start. I got up too early, didn't need the alarm. So I got dressed in the RV and was all set, so we just marched off to the race - a mile long walk. A nice warm up.

I found my corral easy enough and settled in. DW took a few pics of me standing and waiting. I saw a pacer holding a 4:45 sign, so I thought I'd follow her as long as I could. Which I did until the half marathon mark, and then I lost her.

Once we got started, the first thing I noticed is the massive crowd and onlookers standing on the roadside, all supporting the runners. This went on for almost the entire length of the race. Not having done this before, I was VERY surprised at the huge amount of spectator support. They were out there for us.

The first several miles went just fine. Wasn't too sure about pacing. I didn't want to go out too fast, and I'm just not good at doing my own pacing, so I followed the 4:45 group. This seemed comfortable to me, not too hard. I drank water and gatorade at every stop, carefully attended to my intake of food. I had fig newtons and gummy bears, and a couple of GUs as well. I took in a packet of salt in the near beginning, too. I thought I had this part covered.

When we hit the half marathon mark, the group split up. Half marathoners went right, full marathoners went left. It was now 2:20 into the race. In hindsight, probably still too fast for a marathon pace. I did feel like I was working now, so I slowed down and lost sight of the 4:45 group.

I was now walking once in a while. The miles went by.

Miles 16 through 18 we ran through Savannah State University. I have to say this was the highlight of the race. The kids were out there in full force, and they cheered us on continuously. I couldn't count the number of little groups, doing cheers, dancing, playing music, clapping and yelling. A couple of times someone would run with me, clapping, "you can do this", "I can't run around the block, good job, sir". They were just terrific.

We ran around the athletic track, and I was not feeling like running, I wanted to walk, but I kept going. As we left the campus, my legs began cramping. Calves, quads, AND hamstrings all took their turns. I had to stop several times and stretch. Of course I worried that the cramps would not go away - it was only mile 18 or so. It took a couple of miles of nursing them, stretching, massaging over and over, but they eventually weakened their grip enough to run again.

At one of the water stops they had salt packets, so I loaded up on salt. That may have been what pulled me through the cramps. Certainly, I had been careful with my hydration and eating. I took salt before the start, and during - but maybe not enough.

At the mile 20 sign I laughed and yelled at the 'race coach' "Oh no, The Wall!" which got a lot of laughs and positive reinforcement from the supporters on the side of the road. I never really felt like I hit any wall, it was just constantly being tired - no significant, bump up in fatigue. So I kept going as best I could, now walking a lot. When I tried to speed up, the cramps came back, so I stayed at a slower pace, taking smaller strides which seemed to work.

Just after mile 23 we started back up the ramp to the Harry Truman Parkway, out in full sun, uphill. We runners mostly walked up this hill, it was rough on all of us who ran this pace. For that matter, the rest of the race was uphill, in varying degrees. Not good. This was boring, because there were no spectators, but not too boring, because it was the final 3 miles, and I knew I was within the closing miles of marathondom.

Exit the parkway at mile 25 and heading to the finish. There would be no final push on this race. I was running on willpower, in some pain, but determined. I chugged along the final corridor hearing all the crowd support, they meant well, but it didn't help me much at this point. I forced myself to smile at the finish line, and stumbled across.

I had completed my first marathon!

DW was there, took some pictures. I was in a fog, no sense of elation or emotional reaction that some have. I was expecting it, but in my case, I just felt calm, proud and tired. Interesting, because I have read many marathon reports and folks often are overwhelmed by emotion. Not so for me, that was my reaction and it sort of surprised me.

There was so much food at the finsh! Bagels, chocolate milk, GU, energy bars, fruit cups, bananas and more I am sure. I had no appetite but I forced down a banana and chocolate milk. I took a Snickers energy bar for later.

Sat in the park for a few minutes and then walked back to the RV parking lot. It was another mile of walking. No problem, 'cuz I wasn't in a hurry.

Once I arrived at the RV, almost immediately, I went to to see if Spark Friend Laurie, LAURIE5658, had anything to say on my page. I knew she had been watching my race via some virtual race thingy online.

There were lots of nice comments. The first from Laurie and more from Richard, my geezer pal, ONMYMEDS, who also was spying on me online. He and I both started running at a little later than most, and we both ran a marathon within a year or so of starting. So, we share information on our unique situation. Thank you, Laurie and Richard.

All in all a wonderful experience.

You have to be a runner to understand how something so painful and exhausting can be called "a wonderful experience". But, I guess you sparkers understand.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.

Edit: I just went online and checked the race results. It seems I won 3rd place in my age division on my very first marathon!!
Edit 2: Just found out there has been a corrected race result. Now I am posted as 4th place, after the correction!


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
MAESTROSHASHA 5/13/2014 9:35AM

    Spark being what it is, it seems I get people's stories in bits and pieces. Again you are providing inspiration knowing what you accomplished in a year. Sometimes I get discouraged because I am going so slow. Yet I am heartened to know it's not the speed that it takes to reach my goals its the determination to keep going.

One of these days (years) I'm gonna catch up to you! LOL!
Spark On!!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
ELIZABETH5268 7/19/2013 3:15PM

    That is fabulous! Congrats!

Report Inappropriate Comment
SUPERSYLPH 6/22/2013 11:17AM

    Wow, you are an inspiration!

Report Inappropriate Comment
ON2VICTORY 1/31/2013 9:53AM

    Sorry Im a little late to the party buddy, way to go on your accomplishment!!! you did awesome... 4th... you RAWK!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
CM_GARDNER78 12/14/2012 12:55AM

    WOW!! Your story is SO inspiring!!! Congratulations!! :-)

Report Inappropriate Comment
REMEMBER2BME 12/13/2012 3:31PM

    Only 4th place? emoticon

emoticon for you!!!! I have only run (walked & jogged really) one marathon but I am so glad I did. I felt kind of the same as you I think, just proud. I was hungry though. I think it was the time my husband was most proud of me.

Great job!!!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
JUMPUP 12/10/2012 8:15AM

    congratz on this milestone event!

Report Inappropriate Comment
LIBBYL1 12/6/2012 11:49PM


Report Inappropriate Comment

    emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
KIMBOLEAN 12/6/2012 12:07PM


Report Inappropriate Comment
HEMAMALINI100 12/5/2012 8:41PM

  Wow ! emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
JO28352 12/4/2012 3:57PM

    emoticon Thanks for sharing. Such an inspiration!!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
FIRECOM 12/4/2012 10:32AM

    I am dutifully impressed. Good on you.

Report Inappropriate Comment
BOILHAM 12/3/2012 2:50PM

    Chaucer101, I would like to respond to you via your spark page, but there is no link to a spark page for you. Perhaps you have enabled some privacy setting which prohibits others from contacting you?

Hopefully, you will come back and read this:
I used the Hal Higdon Marathon novice program. I altered it to suit me, I didn't always run 4 times a week. At my age I felt I needed more recovery time, so I often skipped one of my short runs. I also incorporated a lot of walking into my longer runs. sometimes 2 min run/ 1 min walk. Other times 3/1 or more running. I was able to finish, and felt pretty good the next day. So, I was pleased with my results. I am now training for a 2nd marathon this February, and will be using the Hal Higdon Senior program. You will find these programs by doing a google search for them.

My personal advice is to not go strictly by any program you decide to use. Listen to your body. That is good advice. Do not be impatient, you will build endurance by slow and steady increments in training time and distances. Do not be hesitant to walk - A LOT - if necessary. Advanced age athletes need much more recovery time. Go slowly and train consistently.

Good luck to you, I hope you are able to do your marathon and 10K and be happy with your results.

Report Inappropriate Comment
CHAUCER101 12/3/2012 1:19PM

  My husband and I just ran our first 5K in October and we're signed up for a 10k in December. (I'm 59 and he's 55). I'm curious as to what training schedule you used? The one we used for the 5k was perfect for us and had us ready just at the right time. It has been more difficult finding one for a 10k though. The jumps in time/miles is more than we can comfortably do. Any suggestions would be helpful. And yes, it is odd that something that can be so grueling and tiring can make you feel so good! I'm up to about 4 miles non-stop now... I'm tired at the end, but feel so good. My recovery time is really fast as well.

Report Inappropriate Comment
LOGOULD 12/3/2012 12:13AM

    CONGRATULATIONS on your accomplishment!!! That's emoticon

I want to be just like you when I grow up - give me a couple years....I'll get there. Probably not as fast, but I'll cross that magic marathon finish line someday!

You've inspired me!!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
JIBBIE49 12/2/2012 7:50PM

    Great to see your blog featured in the Spark Mail. What an honor.

Several years ago, PBS-TV had a NOVA episode on doctors at Tufts University studying people who had not been runners and were out of shape, to train for the Boston Marathon in 9 months. After five months they ran a half marathon and the doctors found that they got 90% of the health benefits out of it because they went on to train four more months and run the full marathon and only improved 10% more. They said that they increased their chance of injury much higher to run the full marathon, so people were much better off to run the half marathon with less chance of injury and still have 90% of the health improvement. This program is probably still on the PBS site, but I haven't checked. It was very interesting.

Report Inappropriate Comment
KATBOXJANITOR 12/2/2012 7:06PM

    Congrats for running and completing your first marathon. emoticon

Personally I doubt I will ever attempt one...running a mile hurts my knees and feet for days! Plantars fasciitis makes it very difficult to *want* to run.

Report Inappropriate Comment
WHENDERFUL 12/2/2012 6:53PM

    Thank you for the kick in the pants I needed to keep going towads my half marathon goal....who knows....maybe even a full marathon one day! Congratualtions to you...I hope I experience a moment as proud as that one day!

Report Inappropriate Comment
MARYJEANSL 12/2/2012 3:56PM

  What can I say but Congratulations!! It is an incredible, wonderful achievement.

Report Inappropriate Comment
TEACHFIRST268 12/1/2012 6:30PM

    What an inspiration!

Report Inappropriate Comment
PATRICIAANN46 12/1/2012 6:20PM

  Good for YOU!!!!! emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
MAYBER 12/1/2012 4:51PM

    thank you for sharing your experience
know will never run a marathon but sure encourage others to if they can
it is great exercise and motivation to continue on your journey
One day at a time

Report Inappropriate Comment
BEAUTIFUL_REINA 12/1/2012 1:05PM

    Omigosh this is an AMAZING blog! It was almost like being there, watching you. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and CONGRATS on being 4th in your age division on your very first marathon. Thats just incredible!!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
AJARRETT 12/1/2012 8:10AM

  Absolutely fantastic!

Report Inappropriate Comment
LEANMEAN2 12/1/2012 5:47AM


Report Inappropriate Comment
FRABBIT 11/30/2012 8:13PM

  Way to go!

Report Inappropriate Comment
ROSE284 11/30/2012 4:37PM

    Wow! That is absolutely brilliant! Congratulations!

Report Inappropriate Comment
TIGERESTJEN 11/30/2012 3:10PM

    Wow what inspiration. Speaking as a sparkfriend, I am proud of your succes and you. Super!!!! emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
LAINYC 11/30/2012 2:35PM


Report Inappropriate Comment
LHOUSTON5 11/30/2012 1:48PM

    That was an awesome and truly inspiring story! emoticon
I don't even know you, yet I'm so proud of you!!! emoticon emoticon This give me hope, I've run 4 half marathons, but haven't had the courage to go for a full marathon yet..... maybe in 2013?!

Report Inappropriate Comment
LHOUSTON5 11/30/2012 1:45PM

    That was an awesome and inspiring story!! Congrats to you! I dont even know you, yet I'm so proud!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
MELAFYAIYAI 11/30/2012 12:49PM

    Fantastic!!!! emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
PURPLEBABYBEE 11/30/2012 11:14AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
IFDEEVARUNS2 11/30/2012 10:48AM

    Awesome marathon!
Sounds like my first, only I suspect I was slower than you are. I started running at age 60 - it's never too late. My first marathon was also in my first year of running. I have now run 3.
I'm usually troubled by cramps towards the end of a marathon, even though I don't experience it often on long training runs. Maybe I'll try a little more salt.
My issue is finding the right fuel - GU and similar things make me ill.
emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
DUSTYPRAIRIE 11/30/2012 10:17AM

    Fantastic and uplifting bl0g! Glad y0u shared it with us!

Report Inappropriate Comment
DONNALEE24 11/30/2012 9:34AM

    E emoticon xcellent

Report Inappropriate Comment
JGRAY76 11/30/2012 6:53AM

    Great story and it helped motivate me. At 59 I am just starting to run 5K's. Maybe someday I will give a marathon a shot. Congratulations!

Report Inappropriate Comment
LYNMEINDERS 11/30/2012 12:19AM

    WOW...go you...thats awesome

Report Inappropriate Comment
LOVEXAVIE 11/29/2012 11:49PM

  Great job and THANK YOU for sharing your journey with us, both in words and in pics.
Very inspiring!

emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
ANGIEN9 11/29/2012 11:27PM

    Awesome!! Congratulations on your 4th place finish. Way to go!! Angie

Report Inappropriate Comment
CRYSTLE4HIMTX12 11/29/2012 11:20PM

    emoticon Way to go!

Report Inappropriate Comment
CRAZY_KAT_1984 11/29/2012 10:32PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
That is incredible! I cannot even fathom how you marathoners do it. I've never walked more than 5 miles at a time. You have my admiration & respect!

Report Inappropriate Comment
WHITEANGEL4 11/29/2012 9:39PM

    Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.

Report Inappropriate Comment
HDHAWK 11/29/2012 9:04PM

    Such an amazing accomplishment! emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
VANITHA72 11/29/2012 8:53PM

  Wow! That is really great! You ARE a real inspiration for people like me who have turned 40 and weigh at 249 pounds and just keep thinking about doing something but not pushing myself to do it.....

Report Inappropriate Comment
JAMER123 11/29/2012 7:59PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
What an inspiration to others!! Keep it going!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
ONEKIDSMOM 11/29/2012 7:46PM

    Woo-hoo! emoticon And a featured blog about it, too! Congrats on your first full marathon... maybe some day I'll do one? But not just yet... I still have a few tri dreams to fulfill. emoticon emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
CHARTHESTAR 11/29/2012 7:31PM

Your first Marathon after only runny for a year- and you were in the top 4!
I'd say that was super awesome!!

Congratulations! your hard work and determination paid off!

Report Inappropriate Comment
BTRFLY08 11/29/2012 7:21PM

    Congratulations!! That is AWESOME!!!


Report Inappropriate Comment

Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

Log in to post a comment.
Member Comments Page (168 total):  1 2 3 Next > Last >>

Other Entries by BOILHAM