In 2009 I ran a half marathon in Provo, UT. It was a fantastic challenge. In 2010 I competed in a triathlon relay with my family. This year I ran a marathon. I think I might be done with running challenges for a little while. I’m a runner and will always run but I don’t intend to attack any running challenges beyond 26.2 miles so I’m exploring other outlets for my craziness. I might take up mountain climbing!
Getting ready for the marathon was extreme. I was really only able to train because of our current family situation having moved to Colorado ahead of the rest of my family. I had the time to hit the streets each night without taking time away from my precious wife and children. I followed a training program dictated by an app on my phone. I told it the date of the race, my goal time, and which day of the week I wanted to run my “long runs.”
My goal was simple; to beat Oprah. When I heard that Oprah ran a marathon in 4:29 I knew that had to be my standard. I’m not a particular fan of Oprah and the fact that men are generally faster runners than women, really would have made me hang my head knowing that she was faster than me.
The Salt Lake City marathon on April 16th couldn’t have had better weather. There were eight thousand people at the starting line. Most of these runners would only be running a 1/2 marathon but we all started from the same starting line at the same time. It took me 12 minutes to cross the starting line.
What was it like… battle. I felt fine for the first 15 miles or so. From 17 to 20 miles I could feel myself slipping and losing strength and capacity. From 22 to 25 miles I fought for every step. It was a life changing experience to battle against the overwhelming need to walk, stop, or drop. I think the pictures do a good job of showing about how I felt.
I finished in 4:20:52, about 8 minutes faster than Oprah! The feeling of elation at having run every meter and having finished made up for everything that I went through to get ready and to finish. Would I recommend it? Yes, I think anyone could do it who really believes they can do anything… and after you do this, you can do anything. It gave me a lot of perspective during the race when I passed a woman around 10 miles that was wearing a vest with the words “Blind Athlete” on it. She was being guided with a wrist leash by another runner. I also passed a man around 14 miles that only had one leg. His prosthetic leg caused a strange limp but I can tell you that fewer things in life could be more motivating.
What did I learn in 4 1/2 hours of pain? What could you learn? Well that is between the runner and the race.
Jacob S Paulsen
Thank you to my family, including parents, siblings, and my wife who supported me during training and during the race. Its the type of thing that can be impossible to do alone! Also a thank you to Jon Feltwell who often ran with me while training in Colorado.
In case you are curious I was 58th out of 102 people in my age group. 602nd out of the 1197 total people who finished the full marathon.