Day Three of the Heartland Series is my big day. If I finish this run, I’m reached my Titanium goal of 30 marathons in different states or countries in 365 days. That might be impressive to most of the world, but many people in this field have already done that, and worse. Some of them wear Marathon Maniac shirts with ten stars on them. Many of those have made Titanium several times over. I’ve even heard that some people have made it in all ways possible: 52 marathons in a year, 30 marathons in different states or countries in a year, and 17 marathons in different countries in a year. I think there might even be someone who has down all three of those simultaneously.
Tony “Endorphin Dude” Nguyen (Maniac 2810) started me on this goal. He started running around the same time I did, maybe a little latter, but he went right for the Titanium goal as a way to fight his diabetes. I met him at several races in California and the seed was planted. Now he’s doing 100 milers. The most I’ve done is 56k. He’s gone way past the 100 marathon goal, and I’m in the high 50s. I suck. No matter how much I do, I’m still at the back of the achievement pack. Don’t be impressed with me; I’m not. I’m impressed by people like Tony.
Today’s course in Bloomington is a bit weird. It’s an out-and-back on a loop. We run almost all the way around a small lake but when we get almost all the way around, we turn around to come back. We’d do that 12 times.
I start off with Jennifer, my ad hoc running partner from yesterday, but after a couple of laps we separate. She’s running conservatively for her first double, and I’m feeling really strong today and find it hard to shift into a lower gear.
At the halfway point I’m feeling really strong. It’s also getting warm, it’s a clear day with few clouds, and the sun is coming up. I’m confident though, overly so, that coconut water is going to keep me away from a heat injury. I used to hate the heat but the high potassium drinks (not Gatorade, with almost no big K) is Popeye’s spinach. The heat gets to me, but properly hydrated and electrolyted I can keep going.
For the middle of the marathon I was running really fast. I was on my 10k pace. That’s insane. After running two marathons already, and in the middle of a third on a hot day I’m running negative splits. I figured this might have been some sort of runner’s high where I was being flooded with endorphins, but the hammer was just around the corner. I went for it though, even though I was still following my plan to run-walk, mostly to get rid of some heat. In the nine minutes of walking I was doing more than a mile.
I kept that up, right through Mile 24. I don’t know how that happened. I had run the second half at almost a two hour half marathon pace. But, watching my Garmin and getting to my last lap, I knew something was off. I stopped to ask Race Director Clint if the last lap was something different about the last lap, like going out to the turn around and stopping. A couple other people noted the course was long, so the new rule was a half lap (just the out) for the last bit.
When I got to the turn around, Jennifer was there with a couple laps left. Since a couple of other runners had done the long thing, I decided to run with her back to the start. I could have quit there, having run the marathon according to the race director, but I don’t like the idea of someone running longer than I did even if it was a mistake.
Day Three done, Titanium achieved. I don’t fell any different. The heavens didn’t open up, horns did not blare, and like after the Great Wall Marathon, it took he a couple minutes to realize I’d made it. That’s the nature of these big goals. All the fun is dreaming, thinking, and planning. Attainment is anti-climatic, and actually a bit sad as it leaves a tiny hole in your soul.
Still, Mainly Marathons makes a nice award for those who achieve these big goals in their marathons. Clint presented me artwork, printed on tile, made especially for this series.