A Few Thoughts and Goals on the Eve of My 20th Marathon

Incomprehensible is the word that comes to mind as I approach my 20th marathon this weekend in Phoenix, AZ.

To accomplish this goal set in 1987 to complete a marathon every remaining year of my life required extremely good health (I have missed only two years due to illness), a lot of willpower (myriad stories of running in very difficult conditions—during one long run ice completely covered my  body, another long run happened during a tropical storm with winds exceeding 70 mph, I could go on and on), and truckloads of self-discipline (although one year I just didn’t want to train and could not bear to think about running one mile—much less a marathon).

For six months of each year, I train religiously, and for six months, I party ferociously.

The unfortunate fact of aging is that it takes much longer to get down to marathon weight than it used to.

This year in particular, I have trained adequately, but I have not been able to shed the proper amount of poundage. Ten years ago with the same level of training I have put in since May, I would have lost an additional 15-20 pounds.

So my goals for Sunday reflect those facts of life.

I always set three levels of goals. 2011 is no different.

First level — Finish. Period. No matter if I have to walk, crawl or roll, I want to finish.

Second level — A 5:15—5:30 finish. Yes, that’s five hours and fifteen to thirty minutes of running.

Third level — I call this level the “hallelujah” level. A sub 5 hour marathon. That means if I run a 4:59:59 or less, I will be ecstatic!!!!!!!

My motto this year is “complete not compete.” And my two words for this year are “slow” and “savor.”

These goals are a far cry from my 4:01 personal best, but it is reality.

So…I think the point of this short post is that if I can run a marathon, anybody can run a marathon.

Have you ran a marathon?

Or have you ever considered it?

By randy

Encouraging people to find out who they are so they can live their lives fully.

47 replies on “A Few Thoughts and Goals on the Eve of My 20th Marathon”

i love the way you do life, randy. seriously.

i’ll be thinking of you tomorrow… your 20th marathon is no small feat. here’s to a successful finish! “savor” every moment of that victory. because it IS a victory.

(i did the 1/2 last year in nashville… mostly walked, ran as much as i could… but did it just a few months after being diagnosed with a heart condition. running across that finish line was such a sweet experience for me.)

As we say in PA ~ COOL BEANS!…I wish you the best of luck, Randy..I will be thinking of you and pulling for you.. and send a prayer up, too;)

Rock On!!

@Julie Kolb, One thing about the Phoenix marathon is thankfully it will be “warm beans!” ha! I did a three mail leisurely run yesterday afternoon here to get the lactic acid out of my body and it was spectacular. The weather here is PERFECT!

I’m sitting out on the patio/grotto of my wife’s cousin Terri’s beautiful home in Scottsdale replying to your comment and it is beautiful. Perfect blue skies, low humidity and warm sunshine.

Ah yes! Thanks, Julie. Pray around 10am EST especially. That will be the challenging time of the run.

@Randy Elrod, Phoenix sounds absolutely wonderful..Maybe some “warm beans” and hot tamales for after the race..ha!

Randy, at 10am tomorrow, I will be teaching my 2nd grade Sunday School class at church..I have put you on our prayer list for tomorrow..Know that not only me, but 15-20 precious 8 year old souls will be praying for you, too..I can’t wait to tell them all about you and what you’re doing..Think I will read them this post…

Enjoy your weekend and Celebrate the little things (as I’m sure you will)

@Randy Elrod, Just realized I said “tomorrow”..Been sick for 2 days and was thinking today was Saturday..Better lay off the cold medicine..haha

In N Out sounds like a great celebratory meal :)

I have enough trouble walking the two mile loop at Edwin Warner Park. I wouldn’t even think about a marathon! :)

Randy, I love the way you think and “go big” with all you do. It’s inspirational without a word spoken.

Hell no, I’ve never run or thought about running a marathon! But I have seriously fantasized about hiking the Appalachian Trail (for which you are preparing). And I am committed to building back up to my pre-marriage, pre-family day-hike pace of 20-25 miles/day.

That said, I think you should design a t-shirt that says, “Train religiously. Party Ferociously.” It would be the new “Life is Good” line. I would buy it!

And I think the motto “complete not compete” is one of the best mottos I’ve ever heard. As a matter of fact, it’s a mantra. It has relevance in so many areas of life, doesn’t it?

I so admire what you’re doing this weekend. I’ll be praying and pulling for your success!

@Keith Reynold Jennings, I fantasize about being on the top of Desolation Peak thanks to your recommendation of “The Dharma Bums.” Ray taught me a lot about this new life I’m living.

And I’m doing it! I’m designing that T-shirt!!!! It will be available soon! Great idea.

And yes the complete not compete motto has helped me in quite a few life challenges. Yes, it has.

Thanks as always, Keith, your comments and blogs are food for my soul.

Wishing all the best for tomorrow! Wow, 20 marathons … that’s an amazing accomplishment.

I’ve done a lot of half-marathons in the past 17 years and only 1 full-marathon. I ran the full about 14 years ago. Always thought I would run another, but never set a goal to train for one … and if you don’t set a goal it doesn’t happen. Because then a nasty accident messed up my legs and now a full looks like a distant dream, I wish I had done more before my injuries.

But I’ve not totally given up on my dream of doing a full again … my legs are getting stronger again and I’m now training for my second half since being injured … I’ll see how that goes and then decide if I can set a goal for a full.

Happy running!

I have never run a marathon. I have never envisioned myself running a marathon. I walked a 5K once – I think I was in High School. Not a very memorable experience. My sister-in-law recently power-walked a marathon, said it was an amazingly fun experience – the training, the camaraderie, the hero’s welcome at the finish line – I think that would be more my pace and preference!! Maybe one day I’ll go for it — maybe I should start training on the “party ferociously” part then ease myself into the “train religiously” part!!

Looking forward to having you in town and hopefully hanging out at La Grande Orange. Best wishes for a successfully completed, fantastically satisfying run!!

@Marina, The camaraderie is amazing- especially when many of the training runs have been alone. It is excitement like I have witnessed only a few other times in my life. Tears always seem to come as I cross the finish line.

And yes, I’m planning on La Grande Orange. Is Sat or. Monday good for you? I didn’t realize Spence departs Phoenix Sunday afternoon after the race, so if we want to include him, we need to make it Sat. Whatever is best for you…

Can’t wait!!

@Randy Elrod, Um, well, I have kind of a crazy Saturday because I’ve got company arriving in town Saturday morning for just 48 hrs. I’d love to see Spence, but I just don’t think I can pull away from my guests. By the way, if you guys are staying anywhere near downtown, like Central Avenue area, there’s a really great coffee bar called Lux – i love their velvet mochas and their baked goods are fantastic. It’s right across from a light rail stop – at Turney/Central which is north of Indian School, south of Camelback.

@Randy Elrod, I was referring to mid-town Phoenix. How nice to have family to stay with! I live not too far from old town Scottsdale. You’re always welcome to stay here – although you might freeze in our unheated house. With unheated concrete floors. But we have lots of blankets & a fireplace in our bedroom which is where we put our favorite guests!

I hope you have a great race on Sunday. I can’t wait to follow along on Sunday and then hear all about it next week.

I feel the same way about the half marathon that you do about the full. It is something I need to do every year for as long as I can (which hopefully is a long, long time.)

@Lindsey Nobles, Yes, the distance is not the point. The goal is the point. No matter half, full, 10K, or ultra-completing is what matters. You go girl. I will put you on my cell phone updates so you can follow me during the race.

Thanks, Lindsey!!

Randy ~ this is very exciting to read! Especially from some one who is aspiring to run marathons. Still working on the 1/2 marathons for now. :) You are an inspiration and I look forward to hearing how you finish this race!

@Becky, Thanks, Becky. Half-marathons are awesome! I really enjoy them because they stretch you without the extreme physical demands of a full.

I have ran quite a few halfs and I loved every one of them!

Congrats and thanks for joining the conversation.


Best of luck on the upcoming marathon. I’m actually starting to train for my first marathon. It’s coming up in June in San Diego (the Rock’n’Roll marathon). And, as a matter of fact, you made it possible! I’ve never been a great runner, but you’re post a last months about the secrets of running helped me get over my 3 mile limit and into longer distances. Specifically the run-6min-walk-1min rule helped a lot.
So thank you for the inspiration!



Wow, TWENTY…. that is so amazing! Good luck, may you blaze a trail to your Hallelujah goal. Twenty, wow! Here’s to the finish. Cheers!

Marathon, on the life goal list…. better get to that one, not getting any younger.


Yes, I think about it all the time. Have I done it, No. My daughter runs cross country and is in phenomenal shape so we have a “runners” mentality in our home. Now that the weather is back in the 70-80’s maybe I’ll give it a go.

No-not maybe. Yes, Yes I will give it a go!!!

Wow, I sorta used up all my energy on that proclamation. Okay, maybe I’ll give it a go.

Monday is perfect. Audra will meet us whenever you want to meet. She’s probably 30 min. away – N/E Scottsdale.

S. Scottsdale is probably 15 min. from LGO depending on how far south you are.

I’m 5 min. away. So whatever time is convenient for you, we will be there!

Awesome bro. Have a great time. I just completed my first marathon at 3:34:16 and it was such a fun experience! I appreciate your posts on running as you’ve obviously found some great methods to enjoying years of running.

I will definitely be praying for you manana. I’m on MST too here in NM so will keep an eye on the clock for prayers, especially that last half! Great to see your friend Spence will run that with you.
I love your goal of a marathon a year. And Wow~Bravo for 20!
I’ve never done a marathon. I am thinking about trying a half marathon this year with friends. Your post inspires me toward that goal.
I’m much more of a cyclist than runner, but got back into running and racewalking last year while training for my very first Triathlon. Did some 5Ks and then a Sprint Tri. Had a blast!
Really like your new “Complete Not Compete” motto. That was what my Triathlon was all about. I have never in my life savored a finish line so much.
So, savor every moment Sunday as you pound that pavement. Lift your head and feel the joy. Finish well. Smile. And know we’re all pulling for you.

Hey, Randy. I ran my first half marathon last year in Phoenix. I ran my second here this year as well. I can relate to slowing down. I ran this year’s race thirteen minutes slower than last year. Great story.

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