|Dad and I (ten years later)
My second marathon was the Asunción Marathon in Paraguay in 2002. I was in my 3rd year of Peace Corps, and living in the capital at the time, thus used to dodging buses and inhaling diesel fumes. It was an experience, and very Paraguayan (the organization of it--or lack thereof--was quite different than one might be used to or expect, which made it that much more endearing). Again, I ran around 3:30, and wrote a letter to Boston to ask if I could use it as a Boston Qualifier, being that it wasn't a certified course. They agreed, and my 3rd marathon was Boston in 2003.
Training for Boston was a hoot. I was backpacking my way home from Paraguay, and thus got to run my way up the coast of Chile, into Argentina, and Peru (not literally, I traveled by bus, boat and plane). I ran 3:12 at Boston, motivated by the huge crowds and water stops, and the intense contrast to the marathon I had run in Paraguay to qualify.
At some point, I wound up in DC, so ran the Marine Corps marathon in 2005. I had a really good first 23 miles and was on 3-hour pace. I had never experienced the "wall" before. Wow. It really does exist. I now respect the wall, and what zero intake of calories during a race will do to you. I staggered in in 3:17 with a (really hot) marine helping me up that last little hill.
Not long after that trail running entered my life, and not long after that the VHTRC and my ultra-running friends. I jumped into my first 50 miler at Masochist in 2006 and haven't looked at a marathon since. But that needs to change. I plan to step out of my comfort zone in the next year, or so (see, I'm already pushing it back) and train for a road marathon PR. It's not just about running a marathon. I can easily do a marathon on any weekend and I often run that distance or longer for a training run. It's about putting myself out there and going for 3 hours. Eeks! I'm already making up excuses to get out of this.