"Double marathon weekend" started off with an unofficial marathon, six hours of LA traffic to pick up two race bibs. It was a test of patience that would come in handy over the next 48 hours as I attempted my first "double", two marathons in two days.
Marathon number one took place Saturday in Palos Verdes. A beautiful and wealthy beach town featuring lots of rolling hills. The morning got off to a hurried start when the shuttle bus arrived two minutes before the start time. I crossed the start line minutes after the gun and was in the very back of the pack of half and full marathoners.
With another marathon on Sunday, I took the advice of some Maniac friends and used a run/walk plan to finish this race. I felt like a commuter in traffic, speeding up only to slow down and watch the other cars pass you. I knew I was faster than them, but I had to pace myself. The inner struggle was incredibly difficult early on as I fought the urge to pass.
The energy around me in the first half of the race was relatively strong. With plenty of half marathoners around, the pace was quick and the energy high. The second half of the race was like running through a ghost town. I didn't have to worry about being passed anymore because I felt like the only one on the course.
After keeping my pace and maintaining my scheduled walk-breaks for the first 19 miles, my body started to fight back. This was not unfamiliar territory, but I had trained so well and didn't expect my body to fight against me until day two. My energy was low, my legs just moments away from cramping and my confidence draining.
As he always does, God answered the prayer I prayed earlier that morning. My prayer before every race, as a matter of fact, is that God would be present during my run and that I would recognize Him. Sometimes it has been through a spectator, other times through music and even once through a little old lady running the race with me, but he has always showed up for me. Shocking, I know.
At mile 23 I spotted my girlfriend and my mom jumping up and down once they spotted my yellow shirt. The smiles and cheers were all I needed to help me through the last 5k, but God did me one better...my iPod was set to "shuffle" and my favorite worship song came on as I walked away from my girlfriend.
The rest of the race wasn't easy and I took a few more walk-breaks than scheduled, but I finished in 4:17, under my 4:20 mark I was shooting for. While it was over 30 minutes longer than my PR, I knew I needed to leave some gas in the tank for Sunday. I didn't know what to expect in the hours between the races, but I was pleasantly surprised...