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As a refresher, Marathon #4 was miserable. When I finished the race, it was 82 degrees. Assuming that didn't happen again, I was expecting better results.

I avoided injury this time. No shin splints. No undiagnosed stress fracture. No pain whatsoever. I only ever had 1 bad long run - 17 miles, but I was sick. After mile 8, I walked the uphills. I ran the rest. Everything else went fine including runs of 18, 19, and 20 miles.

I tried to fight weight gain during the 3 weeks of tapering at the end. I had been swimming once a week while training. During the last 3 weeks when the miles dropped significantly, I started swimming 3 days a week to burn off some calories and hopefully keep my cardio/lungs going. Perhaps more than anything else, I did it to keep from feeling lazy and to help me feel confident.

I only slept 4 hours the night before. I woke up at 2:30 and never fell back asleep. I listened to podcasts. I ate a blueberry muffin, a banana, and 6 inches of a turkey sub from Subway. The sub was disappointing - not because it was bad, but because it was comparably bad. I usually get them with jalapenos, hot sauce, and chipotle southwest sauce to give it some flavor. The night before a long run, I avoid anything spicy. It was good in a bland sort of way. After eating, I used a massage stick as I listened to more podcasts.

For baseball fans, this was one of the more enjoyable parts of that podcast that I remember. It was a podcast about accountants. I know, exciting! The Oakland A's were figuring out their numbers after the year had finished. They had an extra million dollars laying around. They were searching and searching, and they didn't know where it was supposed to be. They were kind of freaking out as that is a considerable amount of money. Sure, you'd rather have too much money than not enough money, but better than that, as an accountant, you'd rather have the numbers right. Apparently, that was the year that they signed Rickey Henderson to a $12 million contract. His signing bonus was $1 million. He framed the check, and he kept it in his home. It made him happy seeing it and knowing what he had accomplished. He never cashed it. He didn't want to cash it. He had enough money. The A's told him that he had to cash the check. They did try to make it up to him and gave him an authentic looking replica check for a million dollars to replace the real one.

I stayed at an Airbnb as I like the personal touches of those places more than a hotel. I only book the ones that give more money real estate for less money than a hotel. I had an entire house - 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, for less than the price of the local hotels, $83. It was a 7 minute drive west to the Olive Garden where I had dinner the night before and a 7 minute drive south to the parking deck that we used the morning of the race. Before long runs, I eat a lot - yes, a lot. Before my 20 mile run, I got the never ending pasta bowl at the Olive Garden. I had 3 bowls of pasta, 3 bread sticks, half of a bowl of salad, and then an entire bowl of salad. One of my friends joked about how much I ate the night before the race. I told him that if I beat him in the race, it's proof that it works. FYI - I'm 19 years younger than him, an inch or 2 taller, and I'd guess about 20-30 pounds lighter. Regardless, if I beat him, it's because I ate smarter.

The day started off tremendously. I did not have any bathroom issues before the race - twice! Additionally, think about the weight I lost. It was surely advantageous to my running performance.

My gf and I were at the starting line. We were running the race with 2 friends. We didn't see them. Finally, they arrived about 10 minutes before the start of the race. They stayed at the official race hotel. The bus was supposed to take them to the race. They were supposed to get on the bus at 6:15. They should have arrived at the race at around 6:25 as the race started at 7. Instead, it got there at about 6:40, and they arrived at the starting line at about 6:50. Wow, I'm glad that my day didn't start that way.

The race started, and I went out as I always do - conservatively. We had perfect weather. At the starting line, it was 40. At the finish, it was 50. This was ideal for me as I don't handle the heat well. I'm not a skinny runner. I have some thickness to me, but not too much. I wore 2 layers. Around mile 3, I stripped off the top layer.

I noticed that the 2 hour pacer for the half marathon was just ahead of me. Between us was a guy a few inches taller and overall larger than I. I drafted behind him for a few miles. Eventually, the people doing the half turned left, and the people doing the full went straight. I lost my pacer and my wind blocker. Soon after, I realized that I was near this other guy for about the entire race. I decided to use him instead. I listened to my mile splits on my headphones as I was behind him. 8:58, 8:59, 9:02, 8:59. He was a model of consistency.

I walked the water stops long enough to drink the gatorade/water before returning to running. At mile 10, my pacer saw me walking as I finished my drink.

"Let's go. I can see that orange shirt out of the corner of my eye."

"You're like a metronome. Every mile behind you has been nearly identical."

"Thanks, I try."

I offered to take the lead so that I could block the wind for him for a while. He accepted. If I was smart, I would've done it the other way around. I didn't realize that I would be in the front for the windy miles. Oh well. Things still went well.

I managed to stay consistent with him on my heels. Eventually, I couldn't. At mile 18, I told him that I was going to drop back. He encouraged me to stay with him. I told him that my quads were shot. I was fine, and I felt ok, but I could no longer maintain a pace just above 9 minutes. When I trained, all of my long runs were around 9:40-10:00 pace. Running 18 at just over 9 was clearly harder than my body was used to, but it had held up well up until that point.

I told him that it would be a gradual decline, but I was happy with where I was. My goal was 4:30. Even if I had a horrible final 8 miles, I would very likely still achieve my goal.

Miles 18-24 were my worst. I never died. I never hit the wall. My quads were just tired. They had taken a pounding. I pushed harder than usual. Everything else was fine - even my hamstrings which do act up on me from time to time on long runs. I was hoping that the massage stick that I took to them in the morning would help prevent any tightness. It seemed to have worked.

At mile 21, my pacer came up from behind me. How'd that happen?

"Where are you coming from?"

"I had to use the bathroom."

Ah, he should have followed my prerace schedule!

He went ahead of me, but he only stayed there for a few minutes. He said that he was hurting. He stopped to walk and eat an energy gel. I patted him on the back and kept going.

I caught up to another guy. This is when I was at my worst - which honestly wasn't that bad. I felt ok. I just couldn't pick my legs up high anymore. Accept the slower pace, but keep going. I drafted off the new guy. I looked at his legs. I saw how slow they were going. I decided that I didn't want to go that slow. I pulled up next to him to pass him. I felt my legs. I decided that I did want to go that slow. I went back behind him. That lasted a few minutes. He walked. I ran on.

I watched as the relay participants passed me. They had different colored bibs. They only had to run 5-7 miles. They looked so beautiful, fresh, and clean. I was dripping sweat with salt lines drawn down my face and salt patches covering my crows feet. Also, I probably smelled like I hadn't showered in weeks. I kept going.

Around 24, I started to get more optimistic and excited. I knew that everything would be fine. If I hadn't hit the wall yet, I wasn't going to now. It wasn't going to get worse. It was only going to get better. I decided that I was going to finish strong.

I hit mile 25, and I tried to take off. To my surprise, my quads had recovered. They felt fresh. I could pick up my legs high again. Those 6 slower miles gave my quads the rest they needed. I have no doubt that my last 1.2 miles were my fastest of the race. Unfortunately, I forgot to stop my phone as I crossed the finish line, so I have no proof of this, but I know it's true.

I crossed the finish line at 4:08. I crushed my goal of 4:30, but to be fair, it was a conservative goal. My actual (chip) time was 4:05:07. My average mile was 9:21, and I was happy. When I later found my results online, I was happier. At every interval provided by the race, I had improved my place in the race. At 4.3 miles, I was in 722nd place. By the time I got to the finish line, I had moved all the way up to 605.

I went back to cheer. My gf finished her second marathon with a time of 4:30. Her first marathon (82 degree finish) was 5:18. I told her that for her 3rd marathon, she has to improve by 48 minutes again.

Our other friends didn't fare so well. They each had goals of 4:30, but to be honest, I thought they were being quite optimistic. One finished in 4:57 and the other in 5:12. It just wasn't their day. Sometimes you have it. Sometimes you don't.

The next day, I searched the results. I wanted to find my pacer to see how well he did. I never spotted him after the race, so I never got to congratulate him. I thought it would be easy to do so. It was. See - he couldn't find me easily. My name is Steve. Search Steve - how many people do you think have this name? His name is Jacolbi. There's an easy to find name. He finished just 33 seconds behind me! It was his first marathon, and while we didn't talk much during the race, we did stick together, and we did help each other. I searched Facebook, found him, and congratulated him.

When I finished my first marathon, I said that I never wanted to do another one.

Second marathon - this is easy.

Third marathon - I never want to do another one.

Fourth marathon - Eh - mixed feelings. I was injured. It was hot. It was miserable, but it was miserable because of the circumstances not because of the race itself.

Fifth marathon - It's not easy, but I can do it again.

On Wednesday, I had dinner with my running group. My friend that finished in 4:57 was there. I told him that if he had eaten as much as I did at the Olive garden, he might've beaten me.

Fool On,

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