Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a fair maiden who loved to run. She trained hard for a big marathon, logging over 550 miles over the course of her 14 week training plan. She felt confident of her ability to run a sub-4:00 marathon, something she had done only once before.
The maiden and her Prince Charming journeyed to the lovely village of Champaign, IL on a fair spring day to begin the epic marathon quest. On the night before the big race, she and her prince carb-loaded on delicious pasta and bread, and went to bed very early, in order to gather up plenty of energy for the quest ahead.
|The fair maiden's gourmet pasta feed. Yum-o.|
The fair maiden awoke the next morning feeling energetic and ready to run. The maiden and her prince met up with some of the other villagers and walked to the starting line on a beautiful, crisp, clear April morning. They rejoiced how perfect the weather was for a long-distance quest such as this.
|The villagers. Not to be confused with the Village People.|
Fifteen minutes before race start, they participated in a completely different, but equally important quest:
|And they peed happily ever after...|
The maiden and her prince lined up in their assigned starting corral. The prince was running the half marathon and was planning a faster pace than the maiden was going to run for her full marathon. So they bid each other adieu and then they were off.
|The maiden and her prince, ready for battle.|
The maiden spotted the 3:55 pace group and decided to run with them. She felt wonderful and the pace felt easy. Maybe even a little too easy. The fair maiden, thinking she could run faster than her goal, pulled ahead of the 3:55 pace group. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the maiden's greed would come back to haunt her.
|Early in the maiden's quest|
Despite the increasing heat and her tired legs, the fair maiden stayed pretty much on pace for a full 20 miles (20 mile split: 2:58:23, pace 8:55). Then at Mile 21, the evil antagonist of the story, The Beast of Cramping Calves, arrived to battle the fair maiden on her quest to the finish line.
The fair maiden ran as far as she could while Cramping Calves attacked, until finally she was forced to walk. The cramps subsided with walking, so the fair maiden spent the next 5 miles alternating walking with running. Eventually, Cramping Quads joined in the battle as well. The 3:55 pace group ran ahead and out of sight.. The fair maiden would not be defeated though.
Rather than spend the last five miles pouting over a failed quest, the fair maiden decided to embark on a different quest: enjoy the final miles as much as possible. After all, the marathon is more than just a race; it's an adventure! She waved to spectators, high-fived little kids, thanked every volunteer and police officer, and encouraged other runners who passed her. She even enjoyed some beer at Mile 22, and it was oh-so-refreshing!
With only one mile to go, she spotted her Prince Charming, holding this sign, cheering for her. He had constructed it in the short amount of time between finishing his own half marathon (and showering and changing!) and the fair maiden's arrival at her 25-mile mark. The maiden nearly wept, she was so touched.
|A true Prince Charming!|
Cramping Calves could no longer hold back the fair maiden on her quest. She mustered all the strength she could, finishing her quest and slaying the beast on the 50 yard line of the U of I football field.
The maiden may not have met her original goal, but she still succeeded in finishing her 9th marathon. And it was her 2nd fastest marathon ever, at 4:09:21. She also learned a valuable lesson about greed, which she will take with her on future marathon quests.
|How not to run a marathon|
So the maiden, her prince, and the villagers celebrated the destruction of the beast of Cramping Calves with a hearty feast and refreshing beverages.
And they all ran happily ever after.
Peace. Love. Train.