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26 MILESNovember 14, 2004

I did it. I really did it! I’m so unbearably proud of both myself and Marama for going the whole distance.

Okay, so they were calling this a “practice” run, the Galloway method of training for a marathon. I think the premise is that after running 26 miles, your body will remember it later, the next time you run a “real” marathon, and not think you’re going to die. No, it only thinks you might die the FIRST time you do it. Like, yesterday. It was a fantastic day to run. Cool and breezy and still sunny the whole day, my pace group started out with seven people. We ran up the Cliff House mountain from the windmill and then through Sutro Park. I hadn’t done any of my training runs during the week in hopes of keeping my shin splints from flaring up, and it had really, really helped.

Coming down the hill, I was feeling great. I kept feeling pretty darn good up until about mile ten, when we were approaching Lake Merced. I helped myself to a handful of gummy bears, because apparently they’re something you eat while running. Know what? When you’re running 26 miles, don’t eat ANYTHING you haven’t practiced running and eating already. Oh, the belly cramps. I hate running with my hands way up in the air, but it was the only way I could get air to my innards. They went away eventually, but I felt pretty durn sick for about four miles or so.

Apparently I’m a long-distance runner. The three and four milers are all right, I like ‘em just fine, but I hit my stride right about fourteen miles in. From fourteen to about nineteen, I’m happy. I’m feeling good. I realize that I’m going to make it. That I’m actually going to run twenty-six miles, something I’m not sure if I ever really believed I would do. I had hoped, yes, but I wasn’t sure. (Kind of like living in my own home, or falling in real love. I’ve had a REALLY busy few months, haven’t I?)

The group:


At mile eleven, Vanessa peeled off from the group and went home to take care of her poor knees. At mile twenty, Kat called it good, going way farther than she had hoped she would. Miles 20-23 were really hard, but we did ‘em. At 23, Lauren decided she had had enough and that her hips were all done for the day. Laura, Dan, Lynn, and I kept running.

I thought maybe the last three miles would be like 20-23. Okay? They’re not. Everyone says a marathon is in two halves: The first half is twenty miles, the second half is six. They’re right. Mile 24 was hard.

Miles 25 and 26 were almost impossible. I remember just putting my head down and staring at the ground that was going by sooo slowly. I hated every car that passed me. I really hated the bicyclists that whizzed by me on the sidewalk. When you’re that tired, you really have a limited amount of motion accessible to you. I couldn’t move right or left, I just had to hope the bikes would get around me somehow (when I stopped to retie my shoes, I could barely work the laces—the only thing my body could do by then was run). I even hated the two girls on their skateboards. I wanted to mug them and ride a board to the finish line, but I don’t know how to skate and yesterday probably wasn’t the best time to learn. So I kept running.

I think I had assumed the last mile would be easy. It wasn’t. It only became easy when we came around the corner and saw the balloon arches and heard the music and suddenly realized there were dozens of people screaming as we came running. We took hands and held them over our heads, and we broke the tape they held out for us, and I cried a little bit as they hung my medal around my neck. Just like I am now, just thinking about it.



It was so fucking worth it. I did it. Sure, it took me six hours and fifty-two minutes, but I did it, damn it. Marama was a little ways behind me, with her reconfigured group, so I got to cry and yell all over again as she came in. I can’t tell you how beautiful she looked, breaking that race tape, arms up, so happy to be where she was, to have MADE it. And our coordinator gave me Marama’s medal, so I could put it around her neck, and I’ve never been prouder. Really.

Then we got in the car and drove straight to Barney’s, where we ordered:

A beer
A coke
A milkshake
Fried zucchini

I told the Emmylou Harris look-alike sitting next to us that we had just run 26 miles. She nodded and smiled. Then she saw our medals, which we are planning on wearing until we die, and said, “Oh, my god, you’re serious!” Yeah, lady. We were.

No, we didn’t even come close to eating it all, but it sure felt good to sit there with her, grinning our heads off for running a MARATHON, dammit, no matter what they were calling it. That wasn’t no practice, man, nosiree. That was the real deal. I’m so happy. And so proud. And YOU were with me every step of the way. Really. Thank you. One month to Hawaii! Whoo hoooo!


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You are AMAZING!!! For someone who just recently taken up jogging your are flipping AMAZING!!! Frame the medal.. spend the bucks and get it framed up and hung somewhere special.. That is IF you ever take it off ;)

I am so so so so damn proud of you!!!

(toenail) MWAH!

Wow girl!
You totally rock.

Congrats. Your post brought tears to my eyes! You are inspiring Ms. H!!

Hip, hip, huzzah! Congratulations! Now you're a verteran marathoner! :)

Practice, my ass. You're a marathoner! I'm so impressed with you, especially when I remember that you and I took up running roughly around the same time, and I still struggle to run a whole 3 miles. And the best part is that not only is it good for you, it's good for all the people you're raising money for too.

I am SO proud of you !!

You are always an inspiration, and now I am more motivated then ever to get off my butt and get moving !!

Go you !

congratulations! you go! wow!

You just flat out ROCK, woman. Unbelievable. 26 miles is amazing and so are you!

Sending love and arnica...

Rachael, I am SO FREAKING PROUD of you. And I am wiping away the tears. Cheers to you and Marama!

my plan is to run a marathon the year i turn 30. i'm being realistic ;) i'm 22 now, and HIDEOUSLY out of shape. so 8 years should just about do it, right?

congrats, and i cant wait to hear abou hawaii too!!

That's amazing. Woohoo!!!!

I am *so* impressed. You are a legend, woman.

HOLY CRAP! You so rock! I can't even run two miles...that's just amazing to me. :)

Congratulations! Good job!

WOW! What an amazing accomplishment - you look so radiant at the finish line! Congratulations for setting such a high goal - and then getting there, and then some!

But now I really want a burger, fries, and a milkshake. ;)

Happy Rachael Dance! Many congratulations to you! My sister runs marathons as well, and I can remember her overwhelming joy at completing her first one. Hang on to that feeling--hell, if you can run 26 miles without dying, you can do anything!

You are a true inspiration!!! You set a goal and made it, I couldn't be prouder of you!!! :) I almost cried just reading about it too. ;)

Wow Rach!...WOW.

You know I was thinking...you should take your posts about this and make 'em into an article and send it off somewhere. It's very inspirational.

Big Hug!

YOU ROCK! I'm in total awe, babe. I think you deserve a double helping of hot fudge sunday with that meal. MWAH!

YAY!!! You go, grrl!

awesome!!! huge congrats!

Congratulations!!! We all knew you could do it and now you've proven us right! Great job and I'm looking forward to hearing all about Hawaii!

I can't believe Hawai'i is only a month away! And you're so ready, girl. I am so incredibly proud of you I can't even stand it.

oh my god your post made me cry! You are such a amazing woman, Rachael! congrats to you and all your running buddies...you are going to kick ass in Hawaii. And I love that you guys ordered a beer, a coke AND a milkshake. Hell yeah.


That is awesome!! The other commenters are right -- you ARE a marathoner now, Hawaii or no. But Hawaii better be ready for you, Ms. Fleet Feet! Woot!

Rachael, I am very impressed. Congratulations!

Oh, my heart swelled reading your post. I'm so very happy and proud for you. Big congratulations all around!!!!!

Tears are streaming down my face. You are amazing!

WooHOO! Babeeeee! You just ran a Marathon! Congratulations. I'm super proud to know you!

Any time you run 26 miles is a real marathon without a doubt!

Maybe we'll see you at the Boston marathon next year? ;) If you do, I'll take you for all the burgers, beer and fries you can stand!


Can I add my weepiness to all the others? :) Seriously, I am so moved and inspired and proud! Congratulations-- you ROCK!! You have accomplished your dreams in so many ways... you deserve all the milkshakes and bubble baths in the world! YAY for you!! :)

congratulations! i'm very proud of you. hawaii will be a walk in the park after this.

And now, for the rest of your life, you are a Marathoner. Good for you! Go kick ass in Hawaii!

That is SO wonderful! I knew you could do it. I'm IMPRESSED.


All I can say is 'WOW'. I am as impressed as hell; and not just with the unbelieveable notion that you have run 26 miles, but that you have done it while still living your life with more energy and gusto than most people (ehem...like me) can manage to muster and still make it to the grocery store. Long, convoluted way of saying, "you rock!"

Happy Day!!!

You are sooo great. Now you get three easy weeks and a Hawaiian vacation!!!


well apparently i'm not the only one blubbering out here! so inspiring - wheeeeee!

Damn grrl!!! YOU RULE!

Wooo hooo! Congratulations! You rock!

Rachael! You so adaptly tell how it feels to run 26 miles and you did it so well! AWESOME work! I mailed your goodies on Saturday by slow donkey mail. You are going to do great on your marathon! I can tell! Look at those grins in your photos! You loved it!

You are a wonder.

As you already know, I have quite a blog crush on you and La, and now, well what can I say. You are fantastic. You should require everyone you knw to call you Queen M-Ra, for Queen Marathon Rachel!!!


You are a wonder.

As you already know, I have quite a blog crush on you and La, and now, well what can I say. You are fantastic. You should require everyone you knw to call you Queen M-Ra, for Queen Marathon Rachel!!!


You did it!!! Congratulations -- you totally did it! I'm thrilled and bouncing and laughing and *squeee!* :D :D :D

Love, a house of your own, -and- a marathon -- how's that for a great big bowl of joy, huh? Congrats, darlin', you totally deserve every bit of all that good stuff. ;) (Yaaaay!)

YEAH!!!! Super Rachael!!!! Congrats, those pix are wonderful!!! Maybe they should end the marathon at Lake Merced where the shooting range is. The sound of dozens of weapons firing would put a spring in my tired step...

WOW! I am so incredibly impressed. I could never do what you did. I'm a sprinter... or was when I was younger and I hate anything beyond, say, 200 m... there is no way I could ever make myself run 26 miles... run for 6 hours and 52 minutes. I am so amazed by anyone who can do what you've done.

What a fantastic accomplishment!

Absolutely Amazing!

I was thinking about you this morning while I was out for my measly 6 miler and wondering how your "practice" marathon went. Congratulations, and just wait--Hawaii is going to be LINED the whole way with spectators and cheerers (I think), and though the last couple of miles seem long, you will get such an adrenaline rush that, well, I just can't describe it, but it feels really, really good to cross that finish line. Ice cream for you and Marama!!!!

You ran for 7 hours? 7 hours? That's fucking unbelievable.

I'm so inspired.

That's just amazing Rach. Congratulations!

You're amazing!!

That is so awesome, Rachael!!! Congrats!

OH YEAH! Okay, at this point the all caps isn't so original but you ROCK! You are amazing, amazing, amazing. I am so proud of you. See, I said you could do it and you did you did you did! Oh, yay. Oh, yay yay yay!

Congrats! You did it! The "non-practice" marathon in Hawaii will be fantastic as well. And easier in a lot of ways: spectators, the adrenaline pumping and you already knowing that you can get that darn medal. Enjoy the taper!

Congratulations! That is great! What you accomplished will definitely help you with hard moments in the future, because you will always have mile 24 to compare it to!


Hey!!! 26 miles is a marathon!!! Congratulations. I am impressed. I am more impressed that you are ready to go do it again. Guess I'll have to get out my running shoes and start up again.

La's ol' man.

PS: I am good for $100.00 for you.

I am very impressed. I approve of the way in which you were offended by any object, animal/vegetable/mineral, that passed you in the final stages. It's especially offensive when itsy bitsy squirrels hurtle past you. Show offs.
One thing I'm not sure of is how running a marathon is a 'practice marathon'. It IS a marathon! Or are you preparing for a particular one? You've missed New York ;)
Anyway, very well done. Good show, old chap.

Wow! That's so amazing. I can't imagine what that would feel like! My husband was supposed to run the Chicago Marathon this October, and was diagnosed with exertional compartment syndrome and the doctor forbid him from running the marathon or he would lose his legs. It was two days before he was supposed to run. He has to have surgery if he ever wants to try to run the marathon again. Congrats to you, not only for mentally making it through, but physically making it as well. There is so much that goes into long distance running, and it takes a truly strong and brave person to even try. I have no doubt that you will complete your "second marathon" in Hawaii and it will be just as sweet (or at least sweet in a very different way.) Congrats and best of luck!

Holy CRAP, that is so amazing! I'm so impressed that I even don't care that your blog has (hardly any) knitting content anymore! 26 miles, way to go!

I used to manage 3 miles once upon a time ago. So I have a glimmer of what a true accomplishment your 26 is. What a phenomenal feeling you must be having, and well-earned.

Wonder-ful! Did you know that the guy who ran the first 'marathon' - the event for which the thing was named - actually *did* die. He ran to notify Athens, I think, of a military defeat.

I was wrong - he was carrying the message that the Persians had been defeated.
He also ran 150 miles in 2 days. Hist. channel link:

Rachael, you are SO AWESOME!! And I am SO PROUD! xoxo

"...but I hit my stride right about fourteen miles in."

That's where you had me. You are amazing.

And how the heck to you manage to still look cute at the finish line?

Yowza! You are SO freaking amazing! I am so proud of you! Way to go, honey pie. You look absolutley gorgeous in those pics, too. What a glow you have. Not just from your body working so hard after all of those miles, but the "I DID IT!" glow you so earned.

Rachael: YAYYYYYYY!!!!! I am proud!!! You kick so much ass!!! I am really tired and can't think of anything more clever to say, but, again, YAY YAY YAYYYYY for you!!! :D
Love, Mandy

I'm pretty damn proud of you too, all the way over here in Italy, searching for the "y" key and punctuation marks. Can't wait to get to a place where I can update the blog and check email (would you believe it's on the fritz? I'm dyin' here!). Great big Italian kisses (on both cheeks, per piacere). Miss you!

I read your blog all the time - LOVE your blog - and though I've never chimed in to say anything I HAD to congratulate you for not stopping, not giving up, and mostly for being an inspiration to those of us still sitting on the couch wondering if there is any way in hell we could possibly get in shape and hoping like crazy that if you can, maybe we... um... okay, I can. :)

26 MILES!!! UN-freaking-believable!! Congratulations!!

whoo hoo! and that's twenty-sixPOINT-TWO miles thank you very much! Don't forget the point two - I remember getting quite irrationally angry and the legions of folks (of course, they were in the last 6.2 miles) yelling that I was "almost done!". Almost my butt LOL - you're right, the second half is the last 6.2 miles.

But you did it! It's an awesome accomplishment, the wonder of it never really fades :) YOU did that much running in one day. You and *your* body :) Awesome!

Cheers - Sara

What a wonderful story! Congratulations!

Geez Louise! DH can do a marathon - or at least a 1/2 marathon - and so can his 50- Y/O sister - but NO WAY JOSE can I ever dream of it! WAY to GO, Girlie! You are awesome! [Don't know how you can eat burgers and fried Zucc, though, LOL!] ... cute cute sweater above... and the rest of you is just general cutest as usual. I know what you mean about all the blogs to keep up with - and trying to keep up with your own - life kinda gets in the way, huh? Cheers! ~ :D

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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