How I bought a car to complete my first marathon

2008 PEC Marathon Medal

The following is a somewhat long-winded first hand account of my first marathon, which I completed earlier this year, but took some time to write about.

It was a usual Friday afternoon, the time of the week that I usually can’t wait for. However, this Friday I was feeling a little bloated and slow having come back from a lunch buffet where I’d overindulged.

To work off this lethargic feeling, I decided to visit the gym after work – something that I only do infrequently on Fridays, being keen on getting home as early as possible in anticipation of the weekend. I’m fortunate enough to have a workplace that has a gym onsite – but this also means any excuses I’d have for not going would only be made weaker.

Dragging myself to the gym, I started into my routine. In between reps and trying to catch my breath, I starting making some small talk with Brian, one of my coworkers, who was on the bench beside me.

“I don’t normally see you in here this time of day,” I said.

“I usually come in at lunch,” he responded. “But a lunch meeting ran overtime today.”

“Are you working out to prepare for hockey?” I asked, referring to the recreational league that was starting in September.

“No,” he replied, slowly. “I’m in here crossing-training for the marathon.”

That last word, marathon, set off a trigger in my mind.

“Oh, that’s great,” I replied, still trying to process that word. “Which marathon is that?”

The Prince Edward County one – it’s based out of Picton. This will be my first marathon.”

I guess in the back of my head, I’d always wondered if I’d be able to one day complete a marathon, but never had the willpower or incentive to follow through on my closet ambitions. For one thing, I didn’t have a car and thus didn’t have a means of a travel to even get to the race. And, up until this point, I hadn’t known anyone who also had the same interest.

I went back into my workout routine, but my mind continued to wander. Could this be my chance to finally run a marathon? Picton wasn’t that far away – it would be an ideal first marathon, not having to travel so far. But, I needed more details. When I got the chance, I interrogated Brian further.

“When is the PEC marathon,” I asked.

“It’s October 5th,” he replied. “Why? Are you thinking of running it?”

Today was September 12th. That put almost exactly three weeks between now and the race.

“Maybe,” I said, using that qualifier that far too often dominates my speech. “It depends,” I added, clarifying the issue no further.

“Well you can always run the half marathon, since they have both events. Just to give you an idea, my wife and I have been training for the past 18 weeks for this,” he said, matter-of-factly.

My mind was now racing. True, I could always just sign up for the half marathon, a task I was probably better suited to. The problem was that I knew that I could do the half, but I didn’t know whether I could do the full. It felt like something worth trying, but I knew I would be in for a tough time.

Before I go any further, I should indicate that I wasn’t a total newcomer to running. Though I’d not run a race since high school when I was on the cross-country team, I’d been consistently running three times a week for the past several years, working my way up to 30 km (3 x 10km) per week. So, while I was perhaps not in marathon-shape, I wasn’t completely without a chance. But these situations are always the hardest to decide on – when you’re uncertain of your abilities.

I decided to take the weekend to think about whether this was something I wanted to do.

Beginning Training – With 3 Weeks to Go

That weekend, I decided to buy a waist belt water-bottle holder for running, on the advice of Brian. He’d mentioned that typically in training for the marathon, you’d run at least two “long runs” of 30 km to prepare for the stresses of staying on your feet and moving for that duration.

For the 10 km distances that I usually ran, I usually did not need hydration. Additionally, at the time, I had a somewhat stupid and macho-like view that not “needing” water during a run made you tougher. However, for a distance of 20 or 30 km, no amount of being tough was going to get you through that distance without some form of rehydration.

As it turns out, the Sunday that weekend was unseasonably warm, peaking at 27C. Perfect, I thought, a chance to test out my new water bottle and my toughness. I planned to run at least 20 km, and maybe more if I still felt good. Looking back on my cocksure mindset, I can’t help but laugh at the outcome.

Things could not have been worse. I started feeling extremely fatigued and worn out after only 12 km and had to stop at the 15 km mark and walk back. Luckily, I had decided to run my standard 10 km loop, so I only had to walk back 5 km or so. But my initial confidence (or perhaps, exuberance) had been destroyed.

I clearly did not know what I was getting into – I was dehydrated and sore. Turns out the “drink only when you feel thirsty” rule did not work for me. If I was to have any hope of completing the marathon at this point, I’d have to learn fast exactly what my body needed. I spent the rest of day reading marathon training guides and tips, but all of them seemed to reinforce the fact that I should have been preparing for this much, much earlier.

Back at work on Monday, and still feeling a little sore, I resolved to try a long run once more on Tuesday. Feeling as if it would provide more incentive, I officially signed up for the full PEC marathon that evening. However, I still had one out: The signup page stated, Feel free to sign up for either the full or the half knowing that we can easily move you from one to the other on race day. I like having backup plans.

On Tuesday, all I could think about was the long run that I would attempt after work. Temperatures would be cooler then, and I’d have a better chance. If I can’t make 30 km, then I won’t even bother to try the full marathon, I pledged secretly to myself. Think of this as a qualification round: make it through this run and you earn the right to run the full.

Starting out at just past 5 PM, I took things very slow, since pacing was not one of my strong points. The temperature was idea, being only 16 C for most of the run. After the first 10 km, I still felt fresh, and in much better shape than on Sunday. I slowly sipped at my water bottle full of PowerAde for the next 10 km, until I noticed it was gone by the 20 km mark. By now, the sun had set, but strangely I was still feeling fairly good.

Up until this point, I had never run beyond 20 km. I made the easy choice to continue on through the final 10-k lap. As I neared the end, my confidence grew, despite the fact that I was feeling the onset of soreness in my legs. When I finally reached the “finish”, which was the entrance of my apartment, I was beaming with excitement. I actually did it, I thought.

I quickly reminded myself that this still didn’t mean I’d be able to make it through the full marathon. Though I’d gone almost three-quarters of the way, I still had over 10 km to go for a full marathon, and almost anything could happen during that last 10-k, especially given my inexperience.

Furthermore, there was only two and a half weeks left – not enough time to get any more real training in. From what little I’d read about marathon training, I’d understood that I’d have to slow things down and get rest before the race, especially in the week before.

The marathon is only half the race

Besides my lack of training, there was still one lingering problem in the back of my mind: How exactly was I going to get to the race? I still did not have a car – chalk it up to laziness, but up until this point I hadn’t really had a need for one.

In a small city like Belleville, I could pretty much get anywhere by walking, biking or taking the bus. And there were always friends that I snag rides off of. I figured that this was a better alternative to owning a car that I would have little use for and having to fork over ridiculous amounts of cash for insurance that every male driver under 25 has to.

The marathon, however, was based out of Picton, a small town about 40 km outside of Belleville. I’d definitely need motorized transportation to get there, otherwise getting there would be a (literally) a marathon itself.

My frugality had placed me in a tough situation. I originally had thought that I’d be able to get a ride from Brian, my coworker, but I realized that I didn’t want to be a burden, after I learned he was actually a lot closer to Picton than I was. If he were to pick me up and drive me to the marathon, he’d have to go way out of his way. With the 8 AM race start time, there was no way I could be so unfair to ask him to get up even earlier to drive me, knowing that he’d already be getting up before 6 AM.

I decided that I’d have to get a car. After all, I’d already passed the first test – making it through a 30 km run – and wasn’t going to let a logical problem get in my way. Besides, I had already been planning on getting a car, but like running the marathon, had never had the incentive or willpower to follow through on it. What could be a better opportunity than to have both situations provide mutual incentives for one another?

I started looking at cars that week. I quickly found myself in over my head, awash in inexperience – a feeling not to different from my current marathon-related experiences. I had no idea what to look for in a car, and didn’t even really know what kind of car I wanted. Hell, I didn’t even know where all the dealers were in Belleville.

I approached this problem with how I approach most problems nowadays – by doing a search on the Internet. I was quickly disappointed, as most of the dealers in Belleville did not have too much to offer in the way of used cars, and getting a new car was not an option – the only ones I could afford would be tiny econoboxes, not something that I’d want to pump so much money into.

I finally found a dealership out in Trenton that had decent prices, and on Friday, we headed out to the location. They had a wide variety of mostly GM cars but the Chevrolet Impalas caught my eye. I can’t say for sure what attracted me to them, but I’ve always wanted a decently-sized car that had enough power for even a subpar driver like me to merge onto the highway. The fact that it’s considered to be family sedan should be seen as coincidence – unless there’s something I subconsciously desire at this point in my life, which I’m completely unaware of.

I took a few of them for a test drive and was impressed. The ’07 models had decent fuel economy and didn’t have that many kilometers on the odometer. But, more importantly, it would get me to the start of the marathon and back from the finish safely. Never one for making rash decisions, I left, telling the dealer I’d think about it.

More concerns

On Saturday, another concern dawned upon me. Up until this point, I had been running almost exclusively in the late afternoon and evening hours, with most of my runs occurring around 5-6 PM. The marathon, however, was to begin at 8 AM sharp. I had never run any real distances that early, and from experience, I knew poorly my body responded to such drastic time changes. I resolved to get up early on Sunday (something I’d also rarely done) and go for a run.

As it happens, I was only able to get out the door by 9:30 the next morning. However, I was able to complete the 20 K distance in about 1h 40m, on track with what I was aiming for. Filled with confidence, I resolved to get a few more “early morning” runs under my belt before the big day.

I was, however, starting to get cold feet about the whole car purchase thing. Sure, it was something I’d been looking into for some time, but was I moving too quickly? I’d read that some people had spent weeks and months looking for a good used car, and here I was, rushing headfirst into the whole ordeal just as I was with the whole marathon thing. There were just so many things I didn’t know or wasn’t aware of.

There had to be a first time for everything, though.

Transitioning

On Tuesday, I managed to crawl out of bed before 6 AM in order to get a morning run in. I’d read in Runner’s World that not eating before a long distance race was a big no-no. That was not good news for me, as I never eat before running because I tend to take longer to digest food than most. The “30-minute rule” was more like a 1 or 2-hour rule. Furthermore, I was not a big breakfast person. These two habits put me at a distinct disadvantage in terms of pre-race fueling.

To remedy this, I decided that waking up, eating a substantial (for me) breakfast of cereal, eggs, yogurt and fruit before going out for a 10 K run was the solution. You’re probably beginning to see a pattern here: My way of “learning” to do things is a fairly brute-force method that consists of seeing whether I’m capable of performing the task I’m trying to learn. But hey, we learn from our mistakes, right?

Perhaps. I sure didn’t feel like I was learning while trying to complete the run that day. “Suffering” was probably a better description. Simply put, I hadn’t given myself enough time for the food to settle and I could feel it sloshing around with every step. It was uncomfortable and I almost felt sick at several points along the way, having to stop and walk for brief periods. I came back from that run exhausted, and it had still taken me far too long. I wrote a brief sentence in my log book: DO NOT EAT TOO MUCH BEFORE RACE.

That evening, I convinced my friend to drive me back to the car dealership, determined to close out the deal and come away with a car. I took a few more Impalas for a test drive and finally settled on one that was priced a bit lower than the rest, but had a few more kilometers on the odometer, to allay some of the guilt I was feeling over rushing the purchase so much. With much hesitation, I signed my name to the contract and put down the deposit – I finally had a car! Or rather, would have one very soon. My friend drove me back home and I thanked him extensively for being so kind to drive me around on my car search.

Tired after a long day, I quickly fell asleep.

Getting ready for the big day

The next two days were spent getting ready for being a first time car owner. Being a male under the age of 25 has its benefits, but car insurance is not one of them. The insurance agency offered through my company gave a discount of 10% if you chose to also get homeowners’ insurance alongside the car insurance. Amazingly enough, this resulted in the bundle costing less than just getting car insurance by itself. That should give you an idea of how much I’m currently paying.

On Thursday I again forced myself out of bed at 6 AM to go for another morning run. This time was better, though I still didn’t feel as “normal” as I did during my beloved evening runs. The marathon was feeling tougher and tougher as time went on.

On Friday I was finally able to pick up my car. Driving was a surprisingly pleasant experience. I never really liked driving all that much, which explains why I was able to hold off on getting a car for so long. However, the drive home was soothing. I vowed to only drive to work once a week, since I live unbelievably close to work, less than a 10-minute walk away from home.

New car
My new car

I decided to take the weekend off and drive down to Kingston to meet up with a friend for Homecoming. I’m not a big party guy, but wanted to get a chance to see him before he left to go work out west. I didn’t get much sleep that weekend but it allowed me to rest my feet a little, with only a week to go before the race.

A brief taper

Most marathon training schedules, as I had now learnt, specified the three weeks before the race as a “taper” period, where training winds down and resting increases in order to properly prepare the body for the rigors of running 42.2 km. I had only learnt about the marathon three weeks before the event, so that forced me to be a little bit more than liberal with the recommended schedule.

There was now only one week left before the race and I didn’t feel fully prepared. Just the past week, I had run about 60 km, spaced out over four runs. The last week before a race you are recommended to run only short distances and stay off your feet as much as possible since training can’t do much for you this late in the game. Having not followed any real training routine thus far, I figured disobeying a few more orders couldn’t hurt much more. I decided to “keep limber” by going for two more 10 K runs, once on Tuesday and once on Thursday of that week. I came out feeling quite good and with improved confidence.

Not that I didn’t realize that there were still a lot of things that could go wrong. With what little actual training and preparation I had done, there were too many variables out of my control that could prevent me from finishing the race. I justified this by telling myself that “trying my best” would be good enough, even though I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I could make it. Perhaps I just have an unconscious desire to make my own life difficult?

That Friday I drove to work and afterwards picked up some groceries, trying to stay off my feet as much as possible. This was the first time I had driven to the grocery store, as I’d usually relied on walking or biking. The next “first time” I experienced might not be so simple.

Race weekend

I decided that Saturday would be a monumental “day of rest” for me, even more than my usual lackadaisical approach to the weekend. But there was still one procedural thing left to do: I had to drive down to Picton to pick up my race kit before the race tomorrow. With my trusty new Garmin Nuvi 350 GPS that I’d picked up on sale (even before I had my car), I was easily able to find my way there, despite my utter lack of directional skills. The text-to-speech feature was level-headed and patiently directed me on every turn and the GPS unit easily recovered and recomputed the route after I managed to make a wrong turn.

After arriving at the Crystal Palace in Picton, which was the reception hall at the finish line, I gave myself a pat on the back for having found the place. I have a notoriously hard time accomplishing what seem to be the most trivial of tasks to most other people, so I was happy that I was getting better at these things.

I proceeded inside to pick up my race kit and sign off my name on the registration list, but ran into some unexpected trouble.

“I’m sorry, you’re not on the list,” said one of the race organizers, after I had told her my name. My heart raced and my palms started to sweat – surely I had not forgotten to register? After all, my credit card had been charged the fee, hadn’t it? I stumbled to find the words to reply, but she thankfully filled the uneasy silence.

“I’ll try downloading the latest list from the website to check again,” she reassured me. “I just have to find a Wi-Fi connection in here.”

The Crystal Palace was a nice building but one of the amenities it apparently did not possess was a proper Internet connection. Instead, the organizers had to rely on a “borrowed” wireless connection from a nearby building in the event that they required Internet access. The downside, of course, was that the connection was extremely shoddy and the organizer had to spend several minutes running around to all the different corners of the Palace in order to get decent reception. In retrospect it was an extremely comical situation, but I surely did not feel that way at the time.

After she finally managed to grab the latest copy of the registration list, she calmly explained what had happened.

“Oh,” she said, “here’s what happened: Your first and last name were reversed,” being careful and overly-polite in not pointing the finger at me. As it turned out, I had transposed my first and last names in the online registration form, resulting in my official race name being Chng PETER. I could feel myself blushing at the stupidity. (Though, in my defense, in traditional Chinese, family names are written before given names)

“Sorry about that…” I said, trailing off, not knowing what to say.

“Oh, don’t worry, this sort of thing happens all the time!” she replied, trying to soothe my battered ego with an obvious white lie. It half-worked, but only because I was relieved that the ordeal was over.

With that, I quickly left and drove home, managing to avoid any further trivial troubles.

The Waiting Game

The rest of the day was mostly a psychological waiting game, as I knew there was nothing more I could do to prepare and improve my chances of completion. On the other hand, there were many things I could do to worsen my chances of success, and I wanted to avoid them. But there were still some things that had to be done.

My mother had decided to come down tomorrow, so I’d have to go pick her up after the marathon. This meant that I’d have to clean my apartment today as having an unclean apartment when mother arrived was actually more of a concern to me than finishing the marathon. After that, I ran a short and slow 2 miles just to get into the right state of mind – everything went well.

After that, my plan was to settle into bed and begin a Dexter marathon, having recently acquired the first two seasons on the suggestion of a friend, only getting up to eat a nice big pasta dinner. It worked out mostly according to plan, (I ended up liking the show a lot), but my big pasta dinner turned out to be just a little too big. I ended up feeling bloated and worried about how this would affect my performance the next day. I went for a 15-minute walk to try to ease off some of the bloat and anxiety. It partially worked.

When I got home, I began to organize the stuff I’d need for tomorrow. Since I’d be getting up early and didn’t want to leave anything to chance (I’m notoriously forgetful in the morning), I meticulously set out the gear and items I’d planned to use. This included my favourite running shorts, shirt and socks. (Yes, I have a favourite pair of socks) I also decided to bring a thin pair of gloves in case my hands got cold, track pants and a hooded sweatshirt for staying warm before the race, since it was likely to be chilly so early in the morning.

Race Gear, the day before
My race gear

I also brought some water and chocolate almonds along just in case I needed to “top up” before the race. I had previously tried this combination before a long run and it seemed to have worked well.

After double checking that everything was properly prepared and triple checking my alarm clock for the right time (set to go off at 4:50 AM), I went to be just past 11 PM. I couldn’t fall asleep until sometime past midnight, though.

Race Day! (Finally)

I had planned to wake up, or be out of bed, by 5 AM. With this in mind, I had set my alarm for 10 minutes before, however the first time I remember opening my eyes when the clock was 5:06 AM. Seeing the first ‘5’ digit startled me, and I jumped out of bed.

I don’t remember turning off my alarm, but I assume that I must have “automatically” done this, since I’d consciously repeated the action so many times on so many previous days, which must have allowed me to perform it this time while in a sleep-like state. Luckily, the error was within the margin I’d prepared for.

I wasn’t hungry and perhaps was still feeling the effects of last night’s meal. So I ate my “normal” breakfast, which consists of instant coffee in a glass of milk and a smoothie made of a banana, frozen berries, yogurt and juice. I like this breakfast because it’s simple and fast to make and it always goes down easy.

I was able to go to the bathroom and maintain my proper “schedule”, something that had worried me before. I didn’t want to have to make a big “pit stop” during the middle of the marathon, even if they did have port-a-potties every few kilometers. With everything in order from the night before, I was out the door at just past 6 AM, and after a short half-hour drive to Picton, arrived at the corralling area just before 6:40 AM. It was just before the crack of dawn, not something I normally witness, since I think I can count the number of times I’ve seen a sunrise on one hand, and that has included times where I’ve stayed up through the night.

The buses began leaving the corralling area soon after, to take people to the start line. The bus ride was a daunting experience – it took nearly 30 minutes to go from the finish line to the start line, and it was taking a direct route, not the roundabout path that was the full marathon. Looking at the scenery scroll by on that ride and realizing that you’d have to cover all of that and more in order to finish puts a lot of second-guessing and anxiety into your head.

When I arrived, I noticed that there had been four port-a-potties setup at the start line – and there was already a massive lineup to get access to them! It was about 7:20 AM at this point, about 40 minutes before the start of the race. Figuring that all those people couldn’t be wrong, I quickly picked up my timing chip and entered into the lineup despite my lack of an immediate need to use the toilet.

This crucial decision proved to be the correct one as by the time I reach the front of the line, some 20 minutes later, I very much had a need to use the facilities, as standing outside in the cold morning for that long will have that effect on anyone. I also suspected that the coffee and smoothie I’d consumed earlier had also played a role.

Starting the Race

With about 10 minutes to go, I started into my pre-race routine. Well, to be precise, I did not have a “pre-race routine”, since this was my first race but instead only had a list of things I planned to do based on what I’d read about other people’s pre-race routines.

I did a few short strides to warm up and get the blood flowing and did a few basic stretches. I didn’t stretch too much, as I’d read that stretching cold muscles wasn’t good, or at the very least, didn’t help. I also munched down the few chocolate almonds I’d brought along so that I’d have a bit more energy to help stave off “the wall”, something I’d yet to experience but was not looking forward to.

With just about five minutes ago, a voice came on the loudspeaker advising us to begin moving towards the starting line to prepare. I joined the throng of my fellow runners as we began to move towards the start. I decided to stay towards the back of the pack, as I didn’t exactly know how fast I’d be going and didn’t want to get passed by a bunch of other more experienced runners. And then, almost unexpectedly, the race began. As I crossed the starting line, going at a pace that was almost forcibly slow, I thought to myself: Oh well, it’s now or never.

Making it through

Moving at an initially slower pace than I thought necessary, I gradually sped up after the start. Passing first kilometer marker, you can’t help by remind yourself: One down, 41.2 left to go! It was the sort of black humour that I reveled in.

The first 10K went by quite easily. The only “trouble” I ran into was having to take a bathroom break at the 4K mark – thankfully they had port-a-potties setup every 2K, though I definitely saw people taking breaks in the bush when one wasn’t available.

During this first quarter of the race I caught up and passed both the 3:45 and 3:30 “pace bunnies”, which gave me quite a boost in confidence, as I was aiming to finish in under 4 hours. However, this also made me wonder whether I was going too fast, so I kept at a fairly steady pace after passing the 3:30 bunny.

At the halfway point, around 1hr 43mins into the race, I still felt quite good; additionally, knowing that you’re halfway there gives you extra incentive to finish. I had set my “point of no return” at 30K. That is, if I could get to the 30K mark without too much trouble, I had decided that I would press on, no matter what the hardship, in order to finish. At this point, it was looking like I’d be able to reach this milestone without much resistance.

However, between 20K and 30K was when I started to encounter the first signs of fatigue and soreness. Thankfully, they were giving out energy gel packs at around the 20K mark, so I downed one of them, but not before making a sticky mess out of my hands. (Definitely practice eating from these awkward packages before doing it during a real race)

I didn’t think I’d need the extra energy from the gel pack, as I’d be drinking Gatorade regularly along the course, but after the 30K mark my body really started to feel fatigued and I had to consume two more of the gel packs to keep going.

Beyond the 30K mark, you have two extremely conflicting feelings. One is the realization that “victory” and completion is just over 10K away, while the other is the intense feeling of soreness and fatigue. One is telling you to stop while the other is relentlessly pushing you to keep going. It might seem a bit weird, but this is actually one of things about running that makes it so attractive, in my opinion. Of course, it may not seem that way when you’re directly experiencing it in the first person.

Finishing

The PEC Marathon was thankfully mostly a flat course, though the most challenging (or annoying) aspect of it was the fact that it starts to get hilly after the 30K mark. This gives the course that extra challenge it needs, as your body is close to depleted right at the point where things start to pick up.

pec-marathon-elevation
The PEC Marathon Elevation Profile

During this last part of the race, the course turns into a gradual slope that while not difficult, has a definite effect in helping to wear you down. At this point, each kilometer was begin to feel markedly longer and I was soon passed by the 3:30 “pace bunny” that I’d passed earlier on, a sure sign that I was slowing down.

Then, at about the 37K mark, there is a fairly steep hill that rises close to 30m in less than a kilometer. It was this hill that nearly ended my marathon hopes.

The hill was easy to spot. Rounding a corner, it quickly comes into view and there is no missing it. You have plenty of time to prepare for it, knowing full well how difficult it’s likely to be at this stage of the race.

With an iron mindset, I approached the hill with confidence, believing this was the last hurdle to overcome before the finish. I managed to make it up to the top without stopping, but by that time my legs were feeling extremely tired and beginning to cramp. This was where my lack of training was beginning to show. If I had done more long runs, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been in such terrible shape, but as it was, cramping was a real issue that threatened to derail me.

I stopped at the top of the hill to stretch for a bit and tried to “walk it off”, but unfortunately this was only a temporary reprieve. Contrary to the course elevation profile on the website, the remainder of the race after the “Death Hill” was not all downhill, as I was beginning to painfully learn. Instead, it consisted of a series of rolling hills that by themselves were not much, but seemed like mountains in the condition I was in.

I could feel my legs on the verge of cramping up after every step I took going up those small hills. I had to stop two or three more times again, to stretch and walk for a bit in order to prevent a catastrophe. Thankfully, Picton was not much further on, and upon entering the town you realize that you are less than 2K away from the finish line.

At this point, I started feeling somewhat better, but perhaps it was just because the mental concept of completion was overcoming the physical pain of fatigue. I pushed on, with the nice citizens of Picton cheering everybody on along the way, and as I rounded the final corner, the finish line banner came into view.

It’s hard to describe the feeling as you finally bring the finish line into sight, but it is best described as a combination of joy, excitement and relief. Pressing onwards, I struggled not to look utterly exhausted as I crossed the finish, realizing that pictures were being taken.

2008 PEC Marathon Medal
The PEC Medal given to all finishers

I managed to finish in a time of about 3hrs 32min, a result I am more than happy with, considering I had real reservations about just being able to complete the marathon! I now hope to eventually bring my time down to 3:15, so that I might be able to quality for the Boston Marathon someday.

pec-marathon-finish

But more importantly, I was happy with the experience. Running has been a central part of my life for the past few years, and I always have found that running manages to give you more energy than you put into it, a seemingly contradictory outcome. Furthermore, it helps you to discover what you’re capable of and teaches you to push yourself, as every run is a new opportunity.

4 Comments »

  1. Excellent story, Peter. And congratulations, of course.

    Finishing a marathon in 3:32 without doing it “by-the-book”, as it were, is a great achievement.

    3:15 or even much, much better ought to be doable with a proper training regimen.

  2. @Steven
    Thanks for the kind comments! This year, I am following a much more defined training schedule and am hoping to do a half or full marathon come May.

  3. That is awesome man and very reasuring as I am training for my first marathon coming up in Nov. I like you can only hope for the best. Great job!!!

  4. @Jeremy
    Thanks! Good to hear you are training, I hope you are enjoying the experience. Really the training, and the lead up to the race is as important an experience as the marathon itself. BTW, which marathon are you doing?

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