The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

November 15, 2012

CONRAD: Taking in the beauty, misery of the marathon

CLINTON — Coming into my second marathon, I felt much better than the first. 

I knew what to expect and I knew with better conditions, weather and course, I was likely to improve significantly.

The IMT Des Moines Marathon is a great beautiful course with plenty of challenging hills in the first half and the weather was ideal, mostly in the 50s and 60s, but no matter how great the atmosphere is, the real test is getting through the last six or so miles.

Runners lined up to start the race in the heart of downtown in the cool early morning chill.  With seven years of running in my back pocket, unless the weather was below freezing, I wasn’t about to run in anything more than a tank top and shorts.

As the first couple miles weaved through downtown and into residential areas, shirts were flying as runners learned the hard way.

Despite the hills, the first half of the marathon was very beautiful. The course guided us through some of the wealthiest neighborhoods, winding along streets decorated with trees displaying the rich colors of fall.

I ran with an interesting mix of runners in the four hour pace group. Some young and old, some newbies and some experienced.

One lady was running her 49th marathon as a member of the 50 state marathon club and on her way to cover her final state of Hawaii soon. Another runner from Canada was on his 23rd. Several younger women were on their second and third marathons.

Every runner who understands the significance of the Drake University track for competitive running could appreciate the pivotal halfway mark as we took a lap around the blue path of glory. As we exited the track our faces were projected on the big screen.

The second half of the race took us along twisted trails through the woods, into Water Works Park, Gray’s Lake Park and eventually back into downtown for the finish.

Besides the scenic course and great weather, the spectators and entertainment along the way really made the race. No matter where you were along the course there were enthusiastic spectators with inspirational signs, words of encouragement and even treats. I high-fived eager kids and enjoyed music from local bands and musicians as I ran.

Besides the drinks and refreshments provided at the water stops, several people took it upon themselves to help out. Families handed out gummy bears and one man offered mimosas and other mixed drinks near mile 14. One boy even held out donuts on a stick for runners to grab for a quick snack, which I think may have been a joke.

I was on pace to finish in four hours or slightly under for the majority of the race, but once again near mile 18/19, my legs began to feel sluggish.  It is unreal to describe to anyone who has not experienced this feeling, but it is true, you literally hit a wall.  As I looked around everyone was sharing in the misery of pushing through those last few miles, many stopping to walk off and on, even though the pain of starting to run again was uncomfortable.  

The last mile is by far the longest mile ever run. You can tell yourself it is only a mile, but it feels like an eternity. As I finally crossed the finish line, I made an effort to flail my arms in the air and look as relieved as I felt as my picture was taken. After that, I discovered that walking felt possibly even worse than running. One of the photographers tried to direct me to the finishing photo area and I gave her a look of death. She laughed, coming to the realization that after running 26.2 miles, posing for a photo might be undesirable.

As I walked toward the water area, smells of Barbecue sliders and pizza wafted toward me, putting me on the verge of getting sick. Who on earth wants food like that right after finishing a marathon? That was my one and only complaint about the event, which is pretty darn good.

While I iced my bursting sore calves, I reflected on my frustration for slowing down the last few miles, but I couldn’t complain much as I was 31 minutes faster than my first marathon. For a few moments I contemplated switching to focus on half marathons, my favorite distance, and giving up on the pain, agony, long miles and stress of the marathon. About an hour or so later I had already changed my mind and was determined to take on another marathon next spring and break that four hour mark. I guess giving up is just not in my vocabulary.

Natalie Conrad is a staff writer for the Clinton Herald. She has been employed with the Herald since 2011.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Off and on the record Let us now praise anonymous sources.The new White House press secretary got into a familiar old spat with the White House press corps the other day over the use of anonymous sources.Josh Earnest — has there ever been a more perfectly named White Hous

    July 25, 2014

  • Be more informed

    Blame the city.That is a favorite pastime of many, including me at times. Driving over that pesky pothole or paying that annual property tax bill can lead to some choice words referencing the city. Nobody takes the brunt of being the scapegoat more t

    July 25, 2014

  • CCC thanks community, collaborators for successful movie night Clinton Community College would like to thank those who participated in the free outdoor movie showing of “Captain America – Winter Soldier” on the evening of Friday, July 18.We are grateful to have such wonderful community collaborators in the Erick

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todd Akin's back again to talk of rape So, Todd Akin is back and he’s talking rape again.You remember what happened last time. The would-be Missouri senator torpedoed his campaign two years ago after suggesting in a TV interview that if a woman is a victim of “legitimate rape,” she is unl

    July 22, 2014

  • Sadness remains as two-year mark passes in cousins' case As most citizens of the Cedar Valley are well aware, July 13 marked two years since the disappearance of cousins Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook-Morrissey of Evansdale.The passage of time provides some semblance of healing, but the sadness, particul

    July 22, 2014

  • UI needs to keep its admission standards high There’s been a lot of talk lately — most of it coming from the leadership of the Iowa state Board of Regents — about the University of Iowa not being passionate enough about its recruitment of in-state undergraduates. Regent president Bruce Rastetter

    July 21, 2014

  • Vote fraud myths meet voting rights reality Before she was allowed to register and vote for the first time in Franklin County, North Carolina, Rosanell Eaton had to read the entire preamble to the U.S. Constitution out loud in front of three men in the county courthouse.Eaton is black. The thr

    July 21, 2014 1 Story

  • 7-21-14 David Helscher mug Prepare for possible effects of Fed's decisions It has been more than 5 years since the Federal Reserve has taken unprecedented steps to support the economy through purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed debt securities. This has generally been called quantitative easing and has not been withou

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook