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    BOILHAM   33,381
30,000-39,999 SparkPoints

From 5K to Marathon In One Year.

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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:
PENNYLOU7 11/29/2012 7:17PM

    Ya! Way to go! I enjoyed reading this blog very much. Congrats on the finish.

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LINDA! 11/29/2012 6:32PM

    You are an inspiration!

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LALAFLOWERS 11/29/2012 6:05PM

    Congrats!!!!! What a huge accomplishement, and dedication to your training! I've run several halfs, but I'm just not ready to commit to the training needed for a full. You are a true inspiration.

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STASCO24 11/29/2012 5:03PM

  I have hope!


Comment edited on: 11/29/2012 5:10:40 PM

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-PAULA 11/29/2012 5:00PM

    Congratulations on finishing your first marathon! I was in Savannah too, doing the half. I loved that course! My first full was Space Coast this year.

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CINDHOLM 11/29/2012 4:42PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LOLAJO54 11/29/2012 3:49PM

    emoticon emoticon m emoticon
I loved your story
thank you for this and the inspiration to keep going!

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STRONGNSEXY 11/29/2012 3:17PM

    Congratulations! Thank you for sharing. I was thinking about beginning a running program again after a 7 month break. You just provided the motivation that I needed! emoticon

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BIGBROTHER323 11/29/2012 2:57PM


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WILLNOTSETTLE 11/29/2012 2:18PM

    Oh my gosh that's so cool! I've been running for 2 years now but have only done 3 10Ks. I'm hopin to move up to half marathon this coming summer.
You're story is amazing and inspiring! THanks for posting!

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B2LAWLESS 11/29/2012 2:16PM

    You are my hero CONGRATULATIONS emoticon

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ZUZUBEAT 11/29/2012 1:19PM

    Awesome, Awesome, Awesome.
I've recently taken up running, (I now count the months, instead of the weeks or days- I've been running since September 1) and have now completed a 5k and an 8k. I took it up just to see if I could do it. I've never been a runner, and never enjoyed running, but wanted to see if I could do a 5k.
It's addicting. I'm now signed up for two more 5k's. I both want to be faster and run farther. You're an inspiration!
Thanks! Way to go!

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PMSLIVES 11/29/2012 12:56PM

    I don't comment on a lot of blogs, but this one did inspire me to. Having turned 60 this year and knowing how my legs feel when I try to run(or even think of running,LOL!). You really deserve a BIG emoticon emoticon emoticon

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REBECCAMA 11/29/2012 12:38PM

    Way to go on being the featured blog post today!

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LYDIAMUNOZ00 11/29/2012 12:21PM

    That's awesome... congratulations!!!

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NWFL59 11/29/2012 10:57AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
Glad you did well on your first marathon. I enjoy reading about your progress and various races. Hope you do not to have any more motorcycle accidents or similar incidents that result in bodily injury. emoticon Go seniors! WooHoo!

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CAWEISER1 11/29/2012 10:47AM

  Hello, you have 10 years on me, but at 56 I can totally relate to your story. I hired a personal trainer last year and dropped 55 pounds. I started out doing 5Ks this year, then 10 K, and in October completed the Army 10 miler in DC. I haven't run a Marathon yet, but I am training for a 1/2 Marathon in 2013. You story gave me hope and encouragement. My Dad is 93 and a vet and still runs and workouts. I know that is the secret to his youthful ways. It took many years, but now I am following Dad's example and also winners like you. I am proud of your accomplishment. You hit the nail when you said that only another runner could appreciate that the "pain and push" was a wonderfully satisfying experience. I hope to place as high in my age group as you did. Certainly something to strive for. Keep up those stretch goals for future accomplishments on your road to a healthy lifestyle. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SIZE8NOTSOMUCH 11/29/2012 10:43AM

    I don't even know you and I am so proud of you.. You made me cry. I think what you did was amazing, GOOD FOR YOU!!! Get r done!

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SEEJANERUNSLOW 11/29/2012 10:41AM

    I live in Savannah and ran the Rock 'n' Roll Half in 2011. Your story is so inspiring to me as I am on the road back from losing my focus. I really appreciated you sharing your story today.

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GERMANIRISHGIRL 11/29/2012 10:22AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DRAFTLOVER 11/29/2012 10:13AM

    I will run a 5k
I will run a 5k
I will run a 5k

.......and its because of people like you......older folks (but not that much older) who dont have the words " I cant, because im older" in their vocabulary! What an inspiration :) thank you......

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REGSHAR 11/29/2012 10:09AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CICI510 11/29/2012 10:01AM

    You are SO inspirational!! What an amazing story!!

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GIRLINMOTION 11/29/2012 9:54AM

    Way to go! It shows us that it is never to late to take up running an be great at it!

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LMULLINS4LIFE 11/29/2012 9:43AM

    This is JUST AMAZING!!! I'm SO proud of you!!! And what helpful information, as I look to my first full marathon in June (just started running this past April). Thank you for showing that this is possible!

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PDQ1203 11/29/2012 9:38AM


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CKAYTHOMAS 11/29/2012 9:23AM

    That is Awesome! So proud for you!

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ILIKETOZUMBA 11/29/2012 9:14AM

    Congratulations!!!!! I am in awe.

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NIKKIJ55 11/29/2012 9:12AM

    Congratulations! Awesome job! I began running at age 55 - just 2.5 years ago and did my first 1/2 marathon 6 months later. I can't imagine doing a full marathon! emoticon

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HLOCHRIDGE 11/29/2012 9:12AM

    Yeah!!! I am so proud of you!!! Congratulations!!!

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LAURIE5658 11/29/2012 9:04AM

    Wow Vic, look who is a celebrity today with this awesome blog featured!!! RAWK!!!

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HOLLYKEE 11/29/2012 9:01AM

    You are an inspiration to so many.
Congratulations on your success.
Keep on running!

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JLAROSE9 11/29/2012 8:55AM

  This is absolutely amazing and you are a True inspiration! I don't get on SparkPeople as much as I would like to follow journey's but when I see something like this I get reinspired. Would you (or anyone else who commented about doing something similar) be willing to share your training program? I just compelted my first 5k in October on a 6 week training program and would Really like to, realistically, run a 1/2 marathon next year. Any advice or suggestions would be Greatly appreciated!!!!! emoticon

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HEIDE69 11/29/2012 8:31AM

    emoticon What an inspiration!!!!

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QUAIL75 11/29/2012 8:14AM

    Fantastic job! emoticon emoticon

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GINA180847 11/29/2012 8:10AM

    Fantastic, you deserve a lot of emoticon mmm emoticon emoticon for your efforts and hard work. I'll bet it feels so good and almost unbelievable. Believe it!!!!

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SWEETMAGNOLIA2 11/29/2012 8:06AM

    Your blog inspires me. You have accomplished one of my dreams. To complete a marathon. Congrats!

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SHOSHANADP 11/29/2012 7:21AM

    Amazing! Congratulations on your accomplishment.

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LILDANCY 11/29/2012 7:12AM

    Great job!!! I too have had the same experience this past year. I ran my first 5 k in May. Went zip lining for the first time. Jumped out of a plane in July. Ran my first 1/2 marathon in September, Rock n Roll, loved it and then finished my 6 month stint with the Marine Corp Marathon in October. It is a great feeling to have accomplished sooooo much!!

Right there with you!

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BECKYANNE1 11/29/2012 6:54AM

    Way to Go! 3rd place is awesome! You are an inspiration!

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NANNBIRD 11/29/2012 6:42AM

    So impressive! I walked my second half marathon a couple of weeks ago and seemed to struggle more than you did, and I'm several years younger. Most impressed! So what's next?

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THEIS58 11/29/2012 6:09AM


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NASFKAB 11/29/2012 5:45AM

  awesome congratulations

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MIGCIN 11/29/2012 5:17AM

  You are truly an inspiration! I really enjoyed your story and want to congratulate you from the bottom of my heart! Great job - thank you for sharing emoticon

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HOLLYM48 11/25/2012 4:53PM

    I had read this blog a couple of weeks ago on my phone while exercising and when I came back up to work on the computer, I couldn't figure out who I had read about. Now I have found your blog again and I am completely in awe! Congratulations on running a marathon. I cannot even imagine running a 5K, walk yes, but not run and then you do 26 miles. OMG! Amazing. Congratulations on coming in 4th, I read that there was a mistake and you got bumped back one but you and your wife must be so proud of you!!!!!
I totally believe that we can reinvent ourselves no matter our age, it is only a number and you are only as old as you feel. Way to go. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Holly

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CHANGINGHORSES 11/18/2012 6:19PM

    Congrats! That is quite an accomplishment! I struggled through my 2nd 10k yesterday and finished at a good time for me. I CANNOT even imagine running 26.2! Way to go! You are an inspiration!

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MOTHER-NATURE 11/18/2012 12:26PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon I am so proud of you emoticon

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KRISTEN_SAYS 11/14/2012 7:34PM

    So awesome! Congrats!

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JANLUCY 11/14/2012 7:20PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Congratulations!!! Awesome job.


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HEALTHYL1 11/10/2012 9:58AM

    Awesome job! Congrats on finishing a marathon AND coming in 3rd in your age group!

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