Posted By: Eric Raygor
After getting more serious about running in 2004, at the age of 33, I realized that I had a few years left that I could expect to improve on my performance, if I trained well and stayed healthy. I made it my goal to be “Faster ’til I’m 40″–to break a PR at some distance in each of the next seven years. For the first few years, this came easily to me, as I shaved seconds and minutes off of my 5k and 10k times. When things got more difficult, I added a one mile race–after all, a new time was as good as a PR, right? As I turned 40 in early 2011, I realized a few things. First, it would be hard for me to break a PR this year at a 5k or 10k. Second, turning 40 would be a great time to do something new, something big, something like a marathon. However, as a pastor, I only get four Sundays off each year, and didn’t think it was fair to take one of them for something as self-indulgent as a marathon when I have a wife and two boys who deserve that vacation time with me. It was in June that I realized a colleague was running in Akron, and that the race was on a Saturday. That week, I decided to see if I could do the training. I ran 14 miles (instead of my usual six) one day, and decided that I would get to work on preparing for a marathon in three months. Each week, I added a mile or so to my long run, and even though I had to take two separate weeks off in August, I felt ready. My family traveled with me to Akron from Somerset, PA, and at the expo I decided to join the 4:10 pace group. I met pacer Amy and the rest of the group at the starting line. I cannot say enough about how helpful the pacing group was. I don’t think I would have finished under 4:20 without the camaraderie, support, coaching, joking, and singing that helped to carry us through, and I ended up finishing at 4:08:33. And I even managed to be in church the next day! Thanks, Akron, for a nice course, incredible volunteers, and a great, supportive crowd throughout the course!