In our September/October Special Book Bonus, Going Far by Joe Henderson, Joe tells us about his “most perfect marathon” and his “personal worst” – 25 years apart but in the same marathon, Avenue of the Giants.
As runners, we all know that the marathon day will come when things don’t go as planned. Joe writes: “If you want to know the runner you really are, not the one you once were or imagine yourself becoming, enter a marathon. Any marathon will do, and this one happened to be the Avenue. Running among the ancient redwoods always cuts you down to size, but never more than when I returned to this marathon for the first time in 20 years.”
In 1992, Joe had what he names his “PW” at this marathon, but as he says in his book, “…these were ‘worsts’ only by the clock. Marathoners can say of finishes what pilots say of their flights: any you can walk away from is a good one, no matter how rough the journey.”
On our Facebook page, we asked our “friends” about their PW’s. Here are their responses.
John Russell: Running a marathon in June with a fever and dry cough. Even stuffed full of meds, I ran out of energy at mile 12 and had to walk most of the last 14 miles in the blazing sun. Cuz I was stupid and stubborn and refused to DNF.
David Corfman: I’m was a 2:58 marathoner at the time, but completed the Pike’s Peak Marathon in 8:45, having contacted acute mountain sickness at elevation.
Shelton Clark: Yeah, I guess DNF (which I did at the Marine Corps Marathon last year) is worse than my PW finishing time (7:25 at the Loonies Midnight Marathon this past July), because finishing at a slowest-ever time, while mostly abject misery, was way better than taking another DNF.
Meredyth Fasulo: My PW was at the WDW Princess Half Marathon this year. I usually run about a 2-hour half. This year the Princess was warm and so humid you could see fog all day. I decided to take more walk breaks and get character pictures. I came in at 2:16. However, it was great because at the finish I got to help 2 strangers cross the line. One thanked me after finishing saying I helped her reach a PR by my words of encouragement.
Bill Khan: 4:42 Boston Marathon in the heat in 2012. Qualified in 3:18. My worst marathon outside of my two Bostons is 3:26. My PR before then was 3:11. Yeah, it pretty much sucked. I passed out and wound up in the med tent afterward. First-half split was 1:58. Second-half split was 2:44. Everyone suffered that day; I suffered worse than most.
Tonya Coe Stephenson: 3rd half marathon in four weeks. It was 37F and raining. Not misting, raining. By mile 4, I was over it. Just over it. Oh, and it was a LOOP. I went right by my car at mile 6.5. But I trudged on. Worst time ever. The race was on streets that weren’t closed, so we also had to deal with traffic. Bad enough the feet were wet, but the last 100 yards or so were in a field, so the feet got muddy, too. I persevered. Finished 5th from last in a blazing time of 2:51:57. For a half-marathon. Just call me Speedy.
Donald Rioux: By ‘DNF’ing a bucket list race because I didn’t train as well as I should’ve. Went down with cramps and had to wait for the sweep vehicle to carry me to the end.
Thanks to our FB friends for their honest responses. If you’d like to read more of Going Far by Joe Henderson, click here to subscribe.