Saturday, July 6, 2013

19 Marathons and Counting

By Ross Forman

For the first 15 miles of the annual Foot Traffic Flat Marathon, I was cruising right along. I had a good pace, feeling strong, enjoying my music and the scenery, and talking to a few other runners, including Jennifer from Cincinnati who proudly wore her purple Team In Training shirt.

She was running for Mom and Dad, it said on the back of her tank top.

I was running for Michael Michaelevich and Brant Gniewek.

Michael died last March after running the Tel Aviv Half Marathon, which I also ran. Brant died unexpectedly this past May, and he too was a runner who was planning to run 52 races of varying distances in 2013 to honor and support 52 people affected by cancer.

I was proud to have their initials – MM and BG – written on my right forearm for my 26.2 mile run July 4 on Sauvie Island, just north of Portland, Ore.

I know Michael and Brant were watching over me.

As I approached Mile 16, my legs started cramping. First, my quads, and then my calves.  It was miserably painful, and not much seemed to help, stop, or even slow the pain.

At Mile 23, the cramping pain was so bad that I actually stood still for, oh, five or six seconds. I didn’t move because, well, I couldn’t.

I wasn’t sure at that point if I would finish.

But I know Michael and Brant were watching out for me.

Ultimately, I crossed the Finish Line and it was cool to hear the announcer say by name as I approached the end of this Independence Day run.

The race was, without question, my most emotional.  I ran for Michael and Brant, and also wore a pink wristband for my Mom, who I know was back in Chicago thinking and cheering for her marathon running son – and anxious for me to bring her my finisher’s medal, as I have for my past few marathons.

I kissed the wristband as I crossed most mile-markers along the course.

I looked at the lettering on my arm several times as my legs were yelling at me.

This race was my most challenging.

This race also was my most rewarding.

I have now run 19 marathons; that’s 497.8 race day miles, and no doubt thousands more in training.

My next confirmed marathon is the Honolulu Marathon in December, which I will be running for the sixth consecutive year.  That will be Marathon No. 20 – at least as of today it will be.

As with most other marathon addicts, we finish one race and then immediately look online for our next, even as I reflect on the intense cramping pain I endured on the streets of Sauvie Island.

Still, I soon will be online looking for another marathon to run.

My 20th marathon needs to be somewhere special.  Sure, Honolulu certainly would qualify, but I want to get back out on the course sooner than December.

That’s the insanity of marathon runners, myself included.

Happy (and pain-free) running,


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