A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step -- Lao Zi
It's been a long time coming.
65 days worth of running time coming.
Over 5 years since I ran my first continuous mile.
35 of those initial miles had no running at all--those in April and early May of 2006.
Many of those initial miles with "running" in them were still at a slower pace than the average daily walker walks--I recall being unable to keep up with a 15 minute mile back then.
I'm about 55 pounds from my peak weight, and maybe about 5-10 pounds heavier than my lightest weight.
My 5k times have went from 33:44 on my 30th birthday to 19:50 5 weeks ago.
My marathon times have went from ok (4:34:06) to great (3:39:45) to disappointing (4:42:33) to not-as-great-as-I'd-hoped (3:32:20) to DNF to I'm-so-glad-to-be-close-to-4-hours-again. 3 extended injury periods (4-8 weeks) during marathon training. One canceled marathon, one failed marathon, 8 marathon finishes are under my belt.
I've discovered that the soft, i.e., flat, marathon is often a lie, especially if it's Chicago. Flat is often harder than rolling hills, and Chicago weather is unpredictable. It seems that cool weather in October is not a guarantee in Chicago--a strange concept to someone living 3-4 hours to the south.
I've discovered that you can't have any time expectations in a marathon of over 20,000 people once you're behind half of them.
I've discovered that running at the beach at sea level is often hot, humid, and rough, even at 5:30am, but you're still running at the beach.
I've discovered that a marathon race experience is often dependent on the nuttiness of the race director.
I've discovered, in my training, that I'm not as patient as I'd like myself to believe. That's where the injury often comes in.
I've learned that half-mile repetitions at my 5k pace will more safely improve my 5k time than half-mile repetitions at a pace that my body is unfamiliar with. Making the extraordinary commonplace automatically moves the bar on extraordinary.
Finally, I've discovered that running slow for 2 1/2 hours isn't any easier than running the same distance at a faster pace, and a 4:42 marathon can hurt far more than a 3:39 marathon.
Best of luck to those just now discovering running. You're guaranteed to have days in which you won't want to continue. I still do. I had days this past week while on vacation where I laid in bed trying to rationalize sleeping in during my first week of marathon training, but I somehow managed to find a way to motivate myself. Regret lasts forever, and the reward of sleeping in lasts a couple of hours.