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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 SparkPeople.com 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!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
RUNNERKDB 11/9/2012 10:02PM

    emoticon
Awesome! Are you ready for another one!!??

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TIEDYED69PEACE 11/8/2012 3:11PM

    I am looking forward to doing a 5k in the future, but never thought to do a marathon... until your blog! Now I just want to go out there and do it right here and now! :)

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PIXIEMOM13 11/8/2012 3:02PM

    I have been sick the last week or so, so I missed your report when it first went up.

I love reading your race report.. well done! You, sir, are an inspiration. And 3rd in your age group for your first marathon.... OUTSTANDING!

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MKELLY72 11/8/2012 11:45AM

    What an amazing accomplishment! You are inspirational...
My kids don't get that post race "fog" yet...I get it after every 5K (no marathons for me yet) Until now, I hadn't really been able to sum it up that concisely...but that is perfect...fog.
Congratulations!

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EMILY1244 11/7/2012 6:45AM

    Absolutely awesome. I have chills right now because I do know that feeling! Congratulations on such a grand accomplishment!!! To do all of that in a year.... Impressive isnt strong enough of a word!

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ANDY_54 11/6/2012 9:36AM

    Late to the game here, but oh boy. I have no words because I'm struggling to do a 5K! This is a great motivator, thanks so much for posting!

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SEABREEZE65 11/6/2012 9:20AM

    WOW!!! I am really impressed and very happy for you!
I love your blog so much that I almost want to start marathon training today.

3rd in your age group! Another awesome!!!

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KAYATLANTA2010 11/6/2012 3:54AM

    Wow! Fabulous job!!! You totally inspire me...
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LISAINMS 11/5/2012 7:20PM

    Way to go!!

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SCHOOLNURSE86 11/5/2012 5:53PM

    That is just excellent!!! Congratulations and good job!!!

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NATPLUMMER 11/5/2012 1:59PM

    Awesome!!! Congratulations!

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GMWSR15110 11/5/2012 1:51PM

    Congratulations on a great accomplishment! What a great example for so many people.

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JOPAPGH 11/5/2012 1:25PM

    Congratulations! I have been running 3 and a half years and just ran my second marathon, Marine Corps, a week ago Sunday.

The second was much easier than the first because there was a point of reference. I ran marathon 2 with the 4:15 pace group. Best advice I heard from the pacer was to expect the first 20 miles to take 50% of the effort and the remaining 6.2 miles to take the other 50%. I held pace for the first 25 miles but ran out of gas in the final 1.2 miles. Finished in 4:15:33.

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SRVFREAK176 11/5/2012 1:24PM

    WHAT AN INSPIRATION YOU ARE!!! emoticon THANKS FOR SHARING AND "LAURIE" IS AWESOME!

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CBAILEYC 11/5/2012 1:17PM

    Congratulations!
emoticon emoticon
C~

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HEIDI-25 11/5/2012 12:38PM

    It has been quite a journey, hasn't it?? The training and day in, day out concerns and activity have paid off. You are a marathon finisher!! Congratulations- well done :D

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KJDOESLIFE 11/5/2012 11:44AM

    Great job! I was there and ran the half. What a gorgeous day for it!! :)

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DIXIEWORKHORSE 11/5/2012 11:13AM

    Way to go...you killed it. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SAMI199 11/5/2012 10:32AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

You Rock!!!! I'm sending this to my Dad today!

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CEKNIGHT 11/5/2012 10:12AM

    That is an amazing story! You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing!

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SKIRNIR 11/5/2012 9:40AM

    Great job on the marathon. I have completed my first half marathon walking the whole thing, but don't think I am going to tackle a whole marathon. That would take me forever!

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MASRITE 11/5/2012 9:33AM

    Just saw that you placed 3rd!! CONGRATULATIONS!! I knew you were amazing!!

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ROXYZMOM 11/5/2012 8:21AM

    I love this blog! You did great! Reading this makes me think I may be able to run a full marathon someday! Thank you so much for sharing!
You rock!!

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NATTAR 11/5/2012 8:04AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BRIAN36 11/5/2012 7:55AM

    You rock!!!

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TWINZMOM7 11/5/2012 7:53AM

  YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!! Congratulations on this accomplishment...it is a dream of mine, and you are an inspiration.

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MARATHONDAD 11/5/2012 7:33AM

    man you never cease to amaze me I dont think there is anything you cant do. U are one of my role models for running!!!! I am truly blessed to know u

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SKINNYPOWELL1 11/5/2012 7:29AM

    I couldn't wait to get on spark this morning to see how you fared. AWESOME, I am so inspired, thanks for sharing your experience and how fantastic you placed third. You rock dude, I am so excited and elated for you. WAY TO GO.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JANEMARIE77 11/5/2012 7:25AM

    Great Job you are emoticon

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LIGHTNINGRUNNER 11/5/2012 6:57AM

    Sure wish I knew you were here. I would of love to meet you. My husband and I both did the half. It certainly got warm out there. You did awesome. I heard lots of marathoners when it got to the split - staying to the right and said not for me today. You did it and you should be proud. Enjoy your recovery!!!

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MAGGIE101857 11/5/2012 6:42AM

    Congratulations! What a great story; I am running my first in January at DisneyWorld, and you have given me hope that I will finish standing upright!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

Laurie is always there with encouragement and kind words!!! I'm glad she sent me your way to read this!!! WtG Laurie!!!!

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FITFORMYKIDS 11/5/2012 6:37AM

    Awesome!!! What a fantastic story!!!

I am a late in life runner too...at 43 LOL

You are AWESOME!!!!

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STRIVER57 11/5/2012 6:21AM

    bravo! i'm very impressed!

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PMRUNNER 11/5/2012 5:47AM

    Awesome! Well done and entertaining write up!

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SWEDE_SU 11/5/2012 3:48AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GRACEISENUF 11/4/2012 11:09PM

    emoticon emoticon

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MIRAGE727 11/4/2012 10:50PM

    Outstanding race blog! Congratulations a owning that Marathon!
emoticon

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DAPHNE_RUNS 11/4/2012 10:50PM

    Vic, congrats on your marathon finish! You did very well; that was a fast first half. How cool is it that you placed 3rd in your age group!!

Please say thank you to your wife for getting up early and going to the race with you and taking pictures of your pre and post race photos. Thanks for sharing your marathon experience. Rest up and enjoy taking it easy for a few days.

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MAGGIE805 11/4/2012 10:32PM

    Wow!!! Congratulations on a 3rd place finish in your age group and on such a huge accomplishment. Woohoo!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ETTEZEUS 11/4/2012 10:32PM

    Congrats on your first marathon and the age group award! You're a natural runner!

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FUNFROG79 11/4/2012 10:18PM

    Wow! How inspiring! Congrats on your hard work and dedication! emoticon

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FIT4MEIN2013 11/4/2012 10:13PM

    Congratulations! What an accomplishment and inspiration! emoticon

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IRISHMUM3 11/4/2012 10:08PM

    Congratulations! Absolutely amazing and inspiring.

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FITLIKENIC 11/4/2012 10:06PM

    emoticon Thank you for sharing! Congrats on your race!

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CHEPRBYTHEDOZN 11/4/2012 9:57PM

    INCREDIBLE!! What an inspiration you are!

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TJCADDO 11/4/2012 9:54PM

    Wow! I love it. emoticon on becoming a Marathon Man. emoticon

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LW8843 11/4/2012 9:46PM

    Oh my gosh you are amazing to me. I just started running and today did a 5k on the treadmill in 47:31. I can not fathom doing a marathon! Way to go.

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DANI05 11/4/2012 9:46PM

    COngratulations!! SO inspiring!! I have started doing the C25k, hoping to be a runner someday!! YOu have inspired me to follow that dream!!

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JACKIE542 11/4/2012 9:31PM

    Congratulations, great blog, great accomplishment, YOU DID IT! GOOD JOB! emoticon emoticon

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WONDERWOMAN 11/4/2012 9:05PM

    WAY COOL!!!! As I said yesterday, AMAZING MAN! Glad the cramps gave up their hold after some time.

I ran the half in Savannah last year and the crowds were by far the best. I've heard the Truman is not nice, but they say they shortened the time out there this year. Now get some rest and recovery in.

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