My first official marathon, you'd expect me not to have any expectations. But I did. Great expectations, in fact. I was hoping to qualify for Boston. Shortly after the bombing at the last marathon and before it was clear that it was an isolated incident carried out by two disturbed individuals, in an emotional conversation with a friend I made up my mind to try and qualify "as a way to combat terrorism". A noble decision, some may argue. A fool-hardy one if not plain stupid, I'd say. I needed 3:15. That's a 7:24 average pace. In reality I'd have to run even faster. My best was about 8. The last couple of months I trained hard to get faster. My last long run 3 weeks before the race was 18 miles at a 7:25 pace. I felt ready. Then came race day. The race, Self Transcendence Marathon, is a 9-lap race on an almost 3 mile bike path around Rockland Lake in NY. The surface is paved but parts of it are aged and thus more jagged than others. Which isn't a major challenge, if one checks their form. The race started and I started flying. It was cool in the morning. I felt good. I was pacing people I had no business pacing. I did the math later but in my first 3 laps (almost 9 miles) I averaged 6:45 min-mile! Then I felt it. I minor annoyance at first but sure enough my feet were rubbed raw. I had failed to check form on the rough spots. By 18 miles my feet were screaming in agony. But I was still on target. I finished my 6th lap in 2:06. 3 more laps... then 2 more laps... Sometime between the start of the race and 2 hours into it the temperature had decided to rise at least 15 degrees. I guess I was too busy having fun and managing my screaming feet to notice. I hadn't hydrated as much. I started feeling the cramps on this second last lap. The time at the end of that lap was 2:48 leaving me with 27 minutes to clear 3 miles. A piece of cake on a good day. But it wasn't to be. The cramps in my right leg brought me to a grinding halt. I could still walk but every time I tried running I'd cramp up again. I drank water, ate bananas but the damage was done. I managed to hobble to the finish line in 3:25:30. Not even close. Next time I'm wearing shoes.