I know your first question is not HOW did I run two marathons in 30 days but WHY did I run two marathons in 30 days. I understand your confusion, but chalk it up to my own Sicilian stubbornness.
I was peer pressured to run the Charleston Marathon (January 17, 2014) by a friend. Athletic events are pretty much the only peer pressures I ever give into and she knew it was the perfect time to get me. I had been really bummed on November 3rd when it seemed like the world was running the NYC Marathon, but I wasn’t. This was also due to stubbornness, but I’ll leave it at that. The days leading up to the NYC Marathon were a hard pill to swallow. It felt like the entire city was embracing the sport I love with every once of my being, but I was taking no part in it. Posters lined the subway stations, restaurants offered carb-heavy specials and the local news was showing various human interest stories associated with the race. It was like a big runners party and I didn’t invite myself.
The feeling I got that day and that has stayed with me every since was that my miles didn’t matter. The posters for NYC said “Make It Count” and I thought you’re right, my miles don’t count. No one cares if I ran 20 miles that week, or 30, or 40. I wasn’t showing up for the big game. So it was time to sign up for another big game. Even though Charleston was only 11 weeks out, I knew I had enough of a base to build up to 26.2. I found a training plan and jumped right in with a 13 mile long run. Easy. Next. And so it went for the rest of November and all of December. I ran 16 miles before a friend’s holiday party, 18 miles the day after a networking event, and 20 miles just a few days after Christmas. I was putting in my miles and I was going to make them count. And so after a three week taper, it was time to tow the line in Charleston for my third full marathon.
Most marathons are scheduled when a city is likely to have the optimal 50-55 degree running weather. Charleston promised 55 degrees the day before the marathon and 55 degrees after the marathon, but the day of the race was a cold, windy 34 degrees. Bethanie and I had already agreed to run the race together but the frigid weather, along with Bet just getting over a stomach bug, meant she wasn’t in top form. It was pretty clear within the first few miles that this wasn’t going to be my best race, however, there was no way I was going to leave my friend behind just to shave a few minutes off of my time. We started together and we were going to finish together. The marathon gives you a lot of time to think, and somewhere around mile 19, when I didn’t feel any pain or tiredness I thought – I want to do this again but try it at my pace. I had been training at a 9:00 minute/mile and I really wanted to see if that training would be able to push me across the finish line.
I wanted to run another marathon without having to go through weeks and weeks of training, my body was up to the task, why not just do it now? I made sure to research running multiple marathons in a short period time and I knew I wouldn’t be the first to attempt it. One of my favorite comedians Eddie Izzard ran 43 marathons in 51 days – and he’s not a small man!
I finally settled on Galveston as my next destination for a number of reasons. It gave me four weeks to both recover and maintain fitness. The idea of running along the gulf sounded nice, it was flat which appealed to my strained IT band, and most importantly, fellow Being Unbound-er Joanna said she’d meet me there!
In the weeks between the two marathons I paid a lot of attention to my body. I stretched much more than I usually do, I gave myself ample rest time and I made sure my long runs weren’t “too long”. The three Sundays between marathons I ran a 6 miler, an 8 miler and a 10 miler before flying to Texas for my next big dance.
Galveston gave me the 58 degree day I had been hoping for but added 100% humidity, which I most certainly could have done without. Nerves set in when I crossed the start line but I glided fairly easily through the first 22 miles. Somewhere before the 23 mile mark the wall hit me like… a wall. Like a 100% humidity-oh-you-think-you-drank-enough-water-and-took-enough-salt-pills-WALL. Around mile 24 I sent a text message to Joanna – “Not going to break 4 hours, probably 4:02, I’m not upset, please get me a diet coke”. And so I slogged through the last few miles to cross the finish line in 4:01:44.
I could be angry with myself that I didn’t run the marathon 1 minute and 45 seconds faster, but at that moment and for most of the moments after that I have just been happy that I made it across two finish lines, 30 days apart, with no injuries to report. It’s a pretty good way to start of 2014.