By Jake McMeans |Copy Editor|
The alarm goes off loudly at 5:00 a.m.
Normally like any other sane college student, I’d be sleeping soundly in my warm bed at this hour on a Sunday, today however, was the day I’d be pounding the 26.2 miles of pavement that make up the Santa Clarita Marathon.
To a non-runner, this length seems to defy common sense, even cross the line to masochism, and I’ll admit, there were times when I was wondering what I’d gotten myself into.
Participating in a marathon, though, is much more than what first meets the eye; a cathartic experience, a test of the human body, both physically and mentally, that pushes you to the edge of sanity.
For a few months, I’d been training, going for runs up to distances of 10 to 11 miles, but now that the day was here, I felt under-prepared and was second guessing myself.
Regardless, the day had arrived, for better or for worse.
So, as 7 a.m. loomed nearer, my buddy, Shane, and I made our way to the starting line with hundreds of other runners, looking to have the same great marathon experience.
It was a cool, crisp 50 degrees in Santa Clarita, so it was a challenge to stay warm and loose, and we joined the other runners in our attempts to keep our bodies limber by continuing to move around and stretch.
Shane and I had our sights set on a sub four hour finishing time, so we made friends with the pacer who held the 4:00 sign as he ran; an eccentric Englishman named Nigel, who looked to be in his 60s, and an experienced marathoner.At 7 a.m. on the dot, the starting gun sounded, and we were off.
From the articles I had read in training, seemed to advise to start off at a conversational pace and ease into the run; so that’s what we did. With roughly an 8:50 mile pace to start, we began covering the miles.
Around mile five or six, Shane and I were feeling strong; strong enough to increase the pace, creating a buffer between us and Nigel.
Before we knew it, we were at mile nine, grabbing Powerade from volunteers at every mile, and seeing our family and friends cheering us on, giving us quite the morale boost.
We reached mile 13, signifying the end of the half marathon, and our halfway point; many of the spectators seemed to die off here, having a profoundly negative effect on our energy levels.
On miles 13-18, there appeared to be fewer people, allowing us to focus on our inner monologue, clearly showing the mental challenge of the marathon.
After talking to many experienced marathoners, there seems to be a general consensus that the real race begins at mile 20.
By this point, you’ve pushed yourself to your physical limits, you already can’t feel your legs, and you beging to rely on your mentality. The last few miles were mostly a blur, but with the support of our family and friends, Shane and I finished strong, gloriously crossing the finish line at three hours and 46 minutes making it in the top 100.
Finding it hard to stand, Shane and I collected our medals, and after being congratulated by spectators proceeded to enjoy the reward of a breakfast buffet.