(Ed’s Note: Carlos Hernandez is my former co-worker, who started running in 2000, primarily to get into shape, and now is addicted to running.)
I suddenly realized that my attitude would be considered by many to be cavalier. I kept thinking to myself, "it's just a marathon, what's thebig deal?“
As I stood in a mass of runners waiting for the LA Marathon to begin, some people were voicing their nervousness, others were hollering for joy, while still others were proudly proclaiming this was their “Xth” marathon.
I realized how big a deal it was for this first-time marathoner, sometime just after the start of the race. I started the marathon with my training partner from LA Roadrunners. We kept an acceptable 10:45 mile-per-minute pace. Our group leader slowed us down, because it was an unusually warm Sunday.
As we moved out of the shadows of downtown, the heat became more apparent. The energy of therunning crowd, however, was electric. It was beginning to sink in that I was going to attempt to run 26.2 miles!
At mile 14, my running partner had to stop. I didn't see him again until after the race. One of our pace leaders had to drop out of the race at mile 18, because of the heat. It was at this point that I realized there was a conspicuous number of emergency care workers treating exhausted runners. It was beginning to sink in that I was probably insane to run 26.2 miles!
I made a fatal mistake at the mile 24 water station. I paused... I briefly paused, to get some water. As I resumed the run about 10 seconds later, pain shot through my right calf - the muscle was cramping. This was followed very quickly by an enormous cramping of the muscle right above the left knee - the thigh was fine, but it was a weird muscle pain underneath my thigh mass.
Needless to say, I sort of had my own Gabriela Andersen-Scheiss moment ('84 Olympic Marathon runner) as I struggled to finish the last twomiles. And although I was disappointed that I didn't make my 4:30 goal, alas, I passed the finish line at 5:03, it was beginning to sink in that I had just run 26.2 miles. 26.2 MILES!
Wow, that was a big deal! Before you ask, my next marathon will be NYC if I win the lottery (Philadelphia is the alternate). And I'll be sure to be less cavalier.