I hope this note finds you well.
I truly hope I am not boring you with all my babble about marathons. I promise, this will be my last article about them. As I told you in an earlier letter, I had made up my mind that I wanted to finish one more marathon. In December of 2017, I made an attempt and it just wasn’t in the cards.
When last we visited, I had changed my workout schedule and registered for the Arkansas Marathon in Little Rock this last spring. Luckily, the changes in my schedule had the desired effect. All of the aches and pains I had at Dallas disappeared. As the March 4th date approached, I will admit that I had a good deal of anxiety. Would I finish the race, or would I have to wait for another day? Had I waited too long to run my last marathon? This wasn’t much different than the first marathon almost thirty years ago. There is always the anticipation of wondering if you really can do it. There is the concern that you may have bitten off more than you could chew.
The day before the marathon, Annette and I drove to Little Rock and went to the Packet Pickup and Expo at the Little Rock Convention Center. It is important to remember that the marathon-running community in Arkansas has always been a reasonably small group. We all know each other, and even if we didn’t know each other’s names, we would acknowledge the other with a nod and a smile. There were thousands of people at the Expo, but I only recognized two people who could be called gray-hairs. A number of my friends were working the Expo, selling shoes and organizing people.
The next morning, I lined up at the start line on a cool, rainy morning; everyone around me seemed so young. They were happy, excited and I suspect somewhat worried about the challenge before them.
Most marathons have bands along the course; the desired purpose is to motivate the runners. When I started racing, most of the bands were rock-and-roll, country, folk and the occasional solo guitar player doing his best. For this run, most of the music was a homogenized form of hip-hop and all of the spectators were moving in rhythm with the music. I can say it didn’t do very much for me.
Based on the course, I could have dropped out at mile thirteen or mile eighteen; much to my surprise, I wasn’t tempted. At mile nineteen, we had a wonderful little rain shower that cooled down the radiators. From Rebsamen Park back to downtown was hard, but not impossible. For those of you who don’t know, the stretch from mile 16 to 26 is by far the hardest part of a marathon, but I knew without a doubt that this was my last marathon.
I finished and was “tickled to death.” This was my last marathon, and it is fitting that it was in Little Rock. There were thousands of people running the streets of Little Rock and most were a lot younger than I. That is exciting, seeing others pick up the sport.
Now, Annette has not completed all the 50 states in half-marathons; I guess I should support her in that effort. We will start in the fall.
Have a good journey.
Dr. Sam Taggart is a retired doctor/ writer/ marathon runner in practice in Benton for the last 35 years. He recently published The Public’s Health: A narrative history of health and disease in Arkansas, published by the Arkansas Times. His two other books, With a Heavy Heart and We All Hear Voices are available at your local booksellers or online at Amazon.com.