I used to marathon. I ran the Seattle Marathon a couple of times and the Portland Marathon (when I lived in the Pacific Northwest), and then when we moved to Milwaukee, I participated in the Lakefront Marathon for a couple of years. I love running and continued to run long distances in preparation and participation in Ironman distance triathlons. But running a marathon can be (if you can believe it) harder than participating in an Ironman.
Why is this? Because you can run slower in Ironman. After all, you run the 26.2 miles after you swim 2.4 miles and bike 112 miles, so the expectation to run fast is diminished. Instead, you run to survive. So running a marathon can actually be harder, simply because you usually have a time goal you are shooting for that pushes one's quads to the point of bursting.
The Boston Marathon took place yesterday. I could never qualify for the race because I'm not really built to run fast (I'm built more like a football player), so I take great pleasure in knowing people who do participate in this event. Take, for example, Dr. Doug Stahl, faculty member in the CAECM Department. Doug had an amazing race in the 2013 Boston Marathon--the year of the bombing. He finished in a crazy fast time of 3 hours and 8 minutes. This year, he returned with an over-training injury but was still able to pull out a 3 hour and 23 minute finish (that's a 7:46 minute per mile pace!). That's just fast.
The 2014 Boston Marathon is also worth noting in that an American won the men's competition, the first time since 1983. Somehow, it seems appropriate to see an American win the year after the tragedy of last year's bombing.
If you see Dr. Stahl on campus, congratulate him. He earned it.