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For this marathon, he'll train harder, eat better, act wiser

August 03, 2000

For this marathon, he'll train harder, eat better, act wiser



5:08:57.

Limping across the finish line of the 24th Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. last Oct. 24, a crowd of thousands of strangers cheering, I saw the numbers - my final time - as a reflection of invincibility.

I had survived. What had seemed impossible four months before had become reality. Sweat pouring, muscles aching, thirst overwhelming, I had never felt more proud of an accomplishment.

It didn't matter that I couldn't run the entire 26.2-mile course; cramps to calf and quadriceps muscles in both legs at mile 21 ended that until I willed myself to jog across the finish line.

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I had started too quickly, faded too soon and obviously not trained well enough to conquer the test of strength and desire. And none of it mattered, because I had survived.

That afternoon, I sat like a sock puppet on the couch, drifting in and out of sleep. The next day, a Monday, walking did not come easily; sleep did. Tuesday yielded less of a limp. Same goes for Wednesday.

Thursday, I went for a jog.

They were the first, slow strides toward making a return trip to Washington this autumn.

Feb. 18, 96 hours after registration opened for the 25th Marine Corps Marathon, it closed with a record 25,000 participants signed up for the silver anniversary edition of the event set for Sunday, Oct. 22.

I was one of them.

A friend asked why I wanted to run it again. For a cheap laugh, I said I was nuts. The truth, though, is I'm addicted to it, especially the idea of finishing strong instead of in a struggle.

Having been through the experience once, I know what to expect and what to change in my training. I did not train well last year, and for someone gearing up for a race, my diet was awful.

Not having to juggle two jobs and training will help; so will avoiding bachelor parties the night before 16-milers.

5:08:57.

Last year, I ran each marathon mile in an average of 11 minutes, 48 seconds, and that includes the five miles I walked.

This time, the goal is an even nine minutes per mile, which would have me cross the finish line in just under four hours - 3:55:48.

Can I do it? I think so. And the number that was my salvation in October has become an incentive:

Train harder. Eat better. Act wiser.

5:08:57.

3:55:48.

Eleven weeks and counting.

Periodically, Lifestyle Staff Writer Kevin Clapp will share experiences as he trains for the 25th annual Marine Corps Marathon. Send e-mail to him at kevinc@herald-mail.com.

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