Saturday, April 27, 2013

Final Preparations

Rock and roll all night, and marathon every day.
 "I want to do everything. I want to be the president, I want to learn Tae Kwan Do, I want to climb mountains. I'm always bugged by the notion that I can't do everything."  - Gene Simmons

"What doesn't kill us makes us stronger."  - Friedrich Nietzsche and Kelly Clarkson

In one week, I will be in Newport Beach, California, running my first marathon.  I've been training for this event since last September, back when I couldn't even go three miles without taking breaks to walk and catch my breath.  In the months since then, I've managed to get in to the best shape of my life, and I've proven to myself that I'm fully capable of meeting this enormous challenge.

So why the hell am I so nervous about it?

I'm not really worried about finishing the race.  I'm crossing that finish line even if I have to crawl on all fours to do it.  But I've done 26.2 mile training runs before, so it's not exactly breaking new ground.  All the articles and books I've read, and advice I've gotten from experienced runners tells me that I should go into the OC Marathon without having any specific goals as far as a finishing time.  "Just make it to the end," is the conventional wisdom.  Up until a month ago, I was in full agreement with this.  Five hours, six hours, whatever, as long as I get to the end before they shut down the course.  But I just can't accept that, for whatever reason.  My goal now is 4:30, but to be completely honest, I'll be happy with anything under five hours.  My personal record for a training marathon is 4:46:57, so I'd really like to come in under that as well.  We'll see how it goes, though.  The weather conditions are supposed to be fantastic, and the course doesn't seem extraordinarily rough.  One decent-sized hill between miles six and seven, and some smaller ones late in the race, but nothing that seems more daunting than Washington Street in the San Diego Half from March.

If this doesn't make you run, what will?
I'm also a little nervous about the other details -- hydration, nutrition, having to take a poop, stuff like that.  I'm going by the book on what I eat and when, and it seemed to work for the half marathon, so I'm crossing my fingers.  As far as race strategy, I'm going to make sure to hold back a little early in the race.  A common rookie mistake is to get caught up in the excitement of the event and tear out of the starting blocks like Usain Bolt.  This leads to a dramatic crash and burn later on, often causing noobs to drop out of the race entirely.  I'm going to keep my pace at around ten minutes per mile until about the halfway point, and see how I'm feeling from there.  I've done the math, and if I can get to mile sixteen or seventeen at a 10-minute pace, I can slow down to 11-minutes per mile from there and still come in at around 4:30.

Of course, since the race starts at 5:30 in the morning, I can stop for breakfast, take a nap, have a nice lunch, and then stroll to the finish line and finish at 4:30.  In the afternoon.


I've already started getting my stuff together for race day.  I bought a pair of white tube socks and cut off the toes to make a handy pair of disposable arm warmers.  Got my Boston Red Sox hat to wear in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.  And of course I've created my iPod Marathon Playlist.  What I've decided to do is dedicate each one of the twenty-six miles to various special people in my life, and for each person's mile, I'll be listening to music based on their favorite performers or some other connection that I've made.  For example, mile 25 is for my father,  and I'll be listening to KISS for that mile.  Not that my dad is particularly fond of Gene and Paul and the boys -- far from it -- but I'm a full-fledged member of the KISS Army and I'll never forget Dad's shouts of "TURN THAT CRAP DOWN!" during my teenage years.

I'm expecting mile 21 to be a quick one, as I'll be doing my best to hurry through the "Kelly Clarkson Mile" for my sister Katy.

My two brothers, Eric and Bobby, get miles 22 and 23, accompanied by The Jam and Depeche Mode, respectively.

Mom, mile 24 is all yours.  "Limelight," "Fly by Night," and "YYZ."

Dan and Doug of Hoobastank.  So now you know.

What, isn't everyone's mother a Rush fan?

Barry has the Beatles, the awesome Cottonwood Elementary staff gets the Rocky soundtrack, and so on and so on.

Of course, I'll be starting and ending the marathon for my amazing and incredibly patient and supportive wife Theresa.  John Mayer for the first mile, Hoobastank (what do you mean "who the hell are they?") for the last mile.

I figure that by divvying up the course like this, it'll be tougher to bail out.  "Can't quit on Dad's
mile," for example.

We'll be driving down to Newport on Saturday morning, going to the Race Expo to get my goodie bag and check out the various booths, and then hitting the sack early.  Like I said, the race starts at 5:30 and as anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm definitely not a morning person.

So here goes.  The next time you hear from me, it'll be with a full recap.

Wish me luck.

I may not survive a mile with Kelly Clarkson.



  1. Good luck, Chris. I'm sure you'll do great! I'll keep an eye out for you at the finish line (and probably somewhere around mile 7 or 8).

  2. Good luck and have fun! I love your idea of dedicating different songs for people and miles. I love Kelly Clarkson but wish you speedy legs to get through that mile!