In early November I told myself that I’d run my first marathon (26.2 miles) by the end of the month. My longest run in 2013 was 3.5 miles, my longest ever 13.1 miles in 2008, and I had run no more than 50-100 miles total in 2013.
In November I took just a few short barefoot runs but was fairly active just being the human that I am. I was about to go down to the beach yesterday and take a dip when I realized it was the last day of the month and I had a marathon to do. So I planned a route, put on the one pair of socks and shoes that I own, which I rarely wear, stretched out a bit, sucked down large amounts of water and honey, and prepared myself 40 ounces of an all natural drink (Masa, honey, ground flax, and water) and set out on foot at 1:00 bare chested.
Shortly after leaving the house I could feel the tightness in my hips and some stress on my ligaments but I spoke positive affirmations out loud and kept on smiling. I was excited to be spending the day under the sun taking in all the beauty that lay before me as I slowly trotted along. After a few miles my body was warmed up, as I knew it would be and my excitement to complete a lifelong goal grew. At mile seven I hid one of the two drink bottles under a bush where it would be waiting for me when I came back through at mile 17. I was feeling fine and inspiration was trickling through my veins. I drank half of the other bottle and then hid it in another bush at mile 8.5 where it would be waiting for my return at mile 15.5. At two hours in I had run along miles of beautiful ocean shoreline and reached La Jolla, which was my turnaround point at 12 miles. I was feeling quite tired but was confident that a second wind of energy was on its way. I stopped a few times to stretch and take in the beauty of the ocean and around mile 14 I did a long headstand to give my legs a full rest.
I was quite low on fuel and realized the placement of the drinks was not ideal and was feeling that this might lead to my body burning out. At mile 15.5 I reached my drink, barely able to pick up my legs, and let the nutrients soak into my body. Then, at mile 17 I reached the location of my full bottle, which my body was quite excited to take in. It was nowhere to be found and being that it was the perfect concoction for my body I would have preferred it to have been there. Instead I took the $20 out of my pocket and bought a $4 veggie on wheat sandwich and made sure the guy created no trash in the process of creating it (napkins, wrappers, etc.) The sandwich was bigger then my stomach could handle but smaller than my minds desire and after that I was nearly incapable of running. I tried but I just could not get my legs to move in that manner and my knees were beginning to hurt. If more was on the line I believe my brain would have forced it but I had no desire to force myself to the point of possible long-term injury so I walked.
The sun was setting over Mission Bay and it was a sight so beautiful to bring joy to even the coldest of hearts. My legs were ok with walking and my upper body and lungs felt no fatigue so I was quite content to take in my city by foot and breathe in the bounty of fresh air. It was another five miles home from there but I made a stop at my local co-op to grab a snack before arriving at my doorstep at 6:20, about five and a half hours after leaving.
With no training or support I ran the longest run of my life. I had no one cheering me on, no motivational music in my ears, and no aid stations to fuel me up. It was a pleasant experience and I am happy to have learned my body’s current limitations. I created no trash, used no unnatural products, had no fancy gear or shoes, and paid nothing to go on this run. To me running is one of the most respectful gifts that can be given to a human body and an offering of gratitude. It is so utterly simple yet so beautiful. Knowing how magnificent of a creation the human body is, I’m a bit surprised that my body was not able to run further. But given that my lifestyle is not that of an animal that is constantly using the body and is that of a human who sits on the couch and looks at a computer screen for many hours of the day it also makes sense to me. I believe given a more natural lifestyle I could run for 100 miles. The ultra marathoners who can do that earn the greatest of my respect.
I am yet to run a marathon but I am not yet to test my limits. Will I try again? Maybe, but more importantly I have gained an even greater understanding and respect for the human body. As my body will be with me until the day I die I believe it is quite possibly the most important aspect of my life. And for that reason I fuel it with the food and water it needs, avoid the substances that don’t belong, provide it with plenty of fresh air, rest, and exercise, and keep good care and hygiene.