Marathon debut, by the numbers

by Bruce Butler

0 times that I have run more than 14 miles in my  life before August 2015. It only took me 58 years and  10 months to reach this plateau. 

1st is where I placed in the Indianapolis Monumental  Marathon, according to my four grandkids in  attendance.    

2 people I knew in SWRC before I joined. Jodi  Heckel’s husband and one of my best friends work  together and organize an annual trip to Wrigley Field.  I met Jodi several years ago on one of these trips. The  second, Brian Moline, has broadcasted 10 or 15 Little  League games over several years on WDWS that I  was umpiring. We knew who each other was.    

3 times I thought maybe this marathon thing was  not going to work. The first time was during and right  after the very hot and quasi-painful Mahomet Half in  August. The second was during my first 18-miler. I  started out running the first seven miles at 9:30. I paid  dearly for that the last four. And just like Mahomet, it  was hot. The third time was the worst. This was my  first 20-miler and I was with a training group that met  at Centennial Park. This run involved two out-andbacks,  so four times between Mattis and Prospect. I  was running by myself between Mattis and Prospect  three of these four times and managed to get lost  all three times. I ran out of water at mile 18. It was  hot and humid. (There seems to be a theme with the  heat!) I made the most wrong turns 16 miles into the  run, so instead of ending up back at Centennial Park,  I hit mile 20 at Mattis and Mayfair and was DONE. I  was so beat up I could not walk the mile to the parking  lot in Centennial Park without stopping three  times and sitting down. My running partner, Sandeep  Pulluru, was so worried he started looking for me  where I was supposed to be. And, of course, I didn’t  have my phone on me.    

4 grandkids, Jack, Owen, Caroline and Blake, were  watching me at the Monumental Marathon. My wife  Mary, son (and fellow runner) Brian, and daughter-inlaw  (and runner) Heather were there too. I stopped for  pictures at mile 9. Best decision of the day!    

4:30 a.m. is what time I started three of my long  runs on Fridays. Partly to avoid the heat, and partly  to make it to work on time. These were two 18-milers  and one 16-miler. I tried to run on a lot of Fridays to  lessen the impact on my family life. Of course, I had  to get up at 3:15 to eat and stretch. (This is when I  was starting to think something was wrong with me.)    

4:45 was my fastest (and third) goal I hoped to run  at Monumental. I read that you should have multitiered  goals, so this was the best case scenario.    

4:56:30 was my actual finish time.    

5:00 was my second time goal that I hoped to run  at Monumental. Of course, my primary goal in my  first marathon was to finish and have some fun. I did.  Any kids that were there got a high five from me the  last eight miles or so. It’s the least I could do for their  enthusiasm.    

7 miles was the length of my morning and evening  runs on my first and only split long run. It was my  first long run after the Mahomet Half Marathon and a  good way to get it in after a tough half and in the heat.    

8 races – that’s how many timed races I’ve been in  before Monumental. Four 5Ks, the Lake Sara 8-miler,  and three half marathons.    

24 is the number of years younger my running  partner Sandeep is than me. For you beginning runners,  I would suggest someone closer to your own  age. Sandeep and I make a good team. He provided  a lot of valuable advice for a guy preparing for his  second marathon.    

32 minutes is how much faster Sandeep was than  me at Monumental.    

37 is how many years I’ve been married to my  best friend Mary. Luckily she has been tolerant of  other bad habits I’ve had, so we made it to 38 years  two weeks after Monumental.    

400 miles of total training runs preparing for Monumental.  I have read that this was a little low, but I  don’t know if my body would have taken much more.    

1974 is the year my friend and 10-time marathoner  Ralph Brown graduated from SJO, one year before  me. Ralph tracked my January 2014 running on Facebook  when I was running two or three miles at a time  and encouraged me to go slower and longer. I took  his advice and decided in December to sign up for the  2015 Illinois Half Marathon. Ralph was always providing  me advice on training plans, nutrition, hydration  and, of course, encouragement. Just like everyone  in Second Wind.   

This story originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of In Passing.