Sports 101: First marathon creates thirst for more |

Sports 101: First marathon creates thirst for more

“Looking good, number eight-two-three.”

No I wasn’t.

I appreciated the encouragement from those who came to watch the Napa Valley Marathon on March 4, but right at that point – mile 21 – I was realizing a couple things I had hoped I wouldn’t.

First: My goal of beating four hours was out of the question. Second: My expectation that finishing would be easy was far, far off.

With my legs feeling heavier than waterlogged tree stumps, the term “hitting the wall” now made sense. What kept me running the final 5.2 miles of my first marathon was everything that had happened during the last 355 days.

After years of athletic inactivity, my health and energy decreased while my weight rose from 185 pounds to 240. So when I started running on March 14, 2006, my purpose was both to regain that energetic feeling and to lose weight.

Initially I had to force the issue by going for midnight runs on treadmills after work. But after a couple months, running turned into more of an addiction than a chore. Losing weight was easy, and I was feeling more energetic every day; I soon stepped off the treadmill and started running local races.

By September, I was back down to 180 pounds, and I was still hooked. The time had come to run a marathon.

I’ve been told that no one really likes to run. People who say that haven’t felt the overwhelming relaxation a 10-mile run brings.

Any distance runner knows why we keep running. The feeling at the end of a long run is pure pleasure, and for me, that feeling has become something I can’t stand to go more than a day without.

So I don’t have to worry about my weight anymore; I’ll just work on trimming about a half hour off my next marathon.

Or maybe more.

On the bus ride to the NVM start line on March 4, I was surrounded by people who made my marathon seem a lot less challenging: I sat next to one man who was training for an Ironman Triathlon (a 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, then a 26.2-mile run), and I sat behind a woman who had recently completed an Ironman.

And I ran part of the race next to another man who had finished the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.

As if that weren’t enough, I looked at the race results when it was all over to see that 785 runners finished before me, and that the winning time (2 hours, 21 minutes, 3 seconds) was almost twice as fast as mine. That’s 5:23 per mile.

Seems impossible right now, but I’ve been running for less than a year.

When I started, I could barely finish one mile in 12 minutes.

Losing 60 pounds seemed impossible about a year ago. Keep that in mind if you’re trying to lose weight. Don’t cut down on your carb intake. Don’t take pills to boost your metabolism.


Because of running, I’ve never felt as good as I do now, and the feeling will only improve.

I finished the Napa Valley Marathon in 4:24:46.

I’ll take it, but my next one will be better.


To contact Sports Writer Jeff Miller, e-mail or call 477-4247.

What’s in a name?

The name “marathon” comes from the ancient legend of Pheidippides, a Greek soldier who ran from the town of Marathon to Athens to inform his army that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. Exhausted from running the entire distance, Pheidippides died shortly after delivering his message.

– Jeff Miller

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User