This weekend, four is the magic number.
Sunday will begin at four in the morning, when I wake up to prepare for The Fox Cities Marathon. A bagel with eggs and around 20 ounces of Fierce Grape Gatorade will serve as breakfast. It is exactly what I've had for breakfast prior to every other long race. After stretching and "zoning out" for a bit, I'll head out the door for the finish line.
From the finish line, I'll catch the bus to the start of my fourth full marathon. In 2003, I ran this race as my first marathon. In 2004, I completed the Green Bay Marathon (and set my marathon PR). And in 2005, I ran the Chicago Marathon in honor of a cancer survivor. That race tested my will, as it pitted a 103F fever against completing the race for my friend. My fourth race gives me the opportunity to see how far I've come since that first marathon distance event, which seems so far in the past.
This is also the race where I hope to break the 4-hour mark. This pace, originally targeted in Chicago, was abandoned and replaced with the primary goal of "survive." Once the 4-hour mark is shattered, sights will be set on Boston and shaving an additional 45 minutes off the run.
So, four is the magic number. After a 4 a.m. wakeup, I will run my fourth marathon, in pursuit of a 4-hour PR. This would all be so much easier if six was the magic number.