I just ran the Columbus marathon for the 3rd time. In 2004, I amazed myself and my training partners by running an 18 minute PR and qualifying for the Boston Marathon. The next year, I started out at the same pace and finished 25 minutes behind my previous year. This year was far worse, 69 minutes behind my 2004 time. Yet, in 2009, I ran a tougher marathon and finished just 11 minutes behind my 2004 time. Why so inconsistent?

If we were looking at half-marathon times we would see nothing like this variation. You can sustain a faster pace than a marathon goal pace for 13.1 miles fairly easily. But once you get into the high teens you face more extreme challenges. Your muscles start running out of fuel, the ambient  temperatures start to climb, and your brain starts saying slow down.  If you aren’t well trained for endurance and speed, the marathon will expose you, and you will have a long day. I just had such a day. Good to the half-way point; bad thereafter.

As I was driving to Columbus, I was clocking the distance. When I hit the 26 mile mark, it struck me that I’d been driving for 30+ minutes. And I thought, tomorrow, I’m going to get out of bed at 5:45am, get dressed, eat some food, drink coffee, and then run that far. Sounds crazy, but I had lots of company.What’s even crazier is I’m going to sign up for another marathon tomorrow.

Update: Signed up for Boston after 30 minutes of trying. It sold out in 8 hours.

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