"2002 The Goal Marathon" by David Solomon

I ran Myrtle Beach in February and landed a marathon personal best (PB), crossing the line in 4:37. Despite dislocating a bone in my left foot during the marathon, and consequently being sidelined for a month, I was eager to begin training for another marathon. But not just any marathon. I needed a greater challenge. I used to think that people were crazy to run GMM, especially since the course isn't certified. But my hunger for a challenge actually had me tinkering with the thought of training for GMM. My foot was responding well to rehab, and I gradually begin to increase my mileage. By the end of April it was official: I was training for GMM. My wife and co-workers thought I was nuts, as did I at times! But with the proper training I knew I could do it. Being a full time dad and husband, full time employee, and Naval Reservist doesn't leave much time for mega-mile weeks. I never ran much more than 30 miles in a given week, and 18 miles was my longest run. Quality workouts were the key. Easy on Monday, hill repeats on Tuesday, speed on Thursday, and long on Saturdays, all laced with weight training during my 30 minute lunch break 2-4 days a week. I've run tons of races, but I have to admit that this race made me (and my wife) somewhat nervous, a feeling I normally don't experience. But all that vanished when we traveled up the mountain to packet-pickup. It's been years since I have visited the mountains, and I was reminded of their magnificence and beauty, and I began to view the upcoming marathon as an adventure, rather than a possible horror story. I could hardly wait to hit the hills. With my training under my belt and my Vaseline in between my toes, I was ready to go. My good wife saw me off at the start, clapping and burning film! All good athletes have a strategy for success and my mine was this: to implement an 8:1-2 minute run/walk ratio, and to storm the downhills to make-up for time lost on the uphills. Along the course I basked in the camaraderie, tasted the mountains' beauty, and consistently followed my game plan. After mile 10 I was somehow on pace to pull off a marathon PB, but mile 10 is so young, especially when the worst of the course is yet to come. I'd heard that the 3-mile dirt road stretch can damper performance, but I do some of my training on dirt roads, so no problem was presented. Mile 17 was particularly tough, however. But I stuck to my guns, and my quads cooperated. To my surprise, I was still on pace to perform a PB, but still discarded the idea as I constantly reminded myself that this was the infamous GMM that I was running! Soon my legs would have to crash. The course continued to climb and wind, and I was continuously waiting for my legs to finally throw in the towel reducing me to a permanent walk, and fading my hopes of a sub-5 and the honor of lapping the Meadows track. But it never happened. I checked my trusty Timex time and time again, but the digits wouldn't fade. I lapped the track and crossed the line in 4:23 smashing my marathon PB by 14 minutes!!! I realize now why people run GMM; this a "goal marathon". A chance the step outside the boundaries of the marathon grind, and to really test our abilities. My confidence has snowballed as I not only completed, but had great personal success on such a difficult course. And this new confidence has confirmed that I possess the raw materials needed to begin training for my next big challenge: the ultra. Thanks for supplying such a great race.