The 15th annual Zoom!Yah!Yah! Indoor Marathon is scheduled for January at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Participants will attempt to complete 150 laps at the school’s Tostrud Fieldhouse. Courtesy image

The first thing I learned about marathons was that I knew nothing.
Despite all the cramming, consulting and consternation about that first whack at 26.2 miles more than five years ago, I knew zilch.

I thought I was prepared. I wasn’t.

I thought I knew how to pace. I didn’t.

I thought I knew how to eat and drink. Laughable.
The list is nearly endless. Fitting, I suppose.
Good thing I didn’t know what I didn’t know then – or I wouldn’t have tried. I’ve done 12 marathons now (and two ultra marathons) and the learning process continues.
Among the biggest first-timer goofs was believing that to run a marathon legitimately, a guy or gal must run the entire time, even while attempting to hydrate at the aid stations.

Marathon No. 1, the Twin Cities Marathon in 2014, remains and will forever be the only marathon in which I … DID NOT STOP. Not for a second. Not for a nano-second. Five-and-a-half-hours of putting more fluids on the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul than in my mouth.
Lesson learned. Slow down, walk through the aid stations, get the fuel down.

It didn’t go much better for No. 2, the Maine Coast Marathon in May of 2015. This one is reverently recalled as an excruciating fling with dehydration (see above, eating and drinking properly).
It was 80-something degrees, humid and I didn’t drink early or often. At all.
Thanks to friend Jim Berger, of Wells, I found the finish line. Jim ditched his own race and assisted me through the haze. The brain fog and physical fatigue was off the charts.
Lesson learned. Fuel, fuel, fuel. If you get behind on fuel intake, there’s no catching up.

Things have improved since then and I’ve slowly zeroed in on simple mental cues that work.
Tips like, “Don’t think, run” from Crow Athletics founder, marathoner and race director, Gary Allen. The mantra can be found painted on the roads at many Crow Athletics events.
Seems trite. It’s not. Too much analyzing leads to mental stress and there’s already enough of that in long-distance endeavors. The mind is an amazing machine. That is never more apparent than on marathon day. Let the mind work its magic.

Prior to the Maine Marathon in 2017, I attended a free clinic given by Rob Gomez, an elite marathoner, coach and founder of Eastern Shore Training. He provided many great pointers. One of them particularly resonated.
“Run comfortably, find a rhythm and remember, the race doesn’t start until there’s 10K left,” he said.
That made sense to me and can be applied to all levels of marathoners: The run does not begin until there’s 6.2 miles to go. Get there and see what you’ve got left in the tank.
A quote from Chris Harmon, another elite Maine runner, also made an impression. “Any finished marathon is a successful marathon,” he said several years ago.

Now, I’m going to jump into a new pool.
I’ve signed up for something in between training cycles – an indoor marathon. Yes, that’s correct. Indoors. It’s called the Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon.

In early January, I’m going to leave a cozy hotel room along the banks of the Cannon River, walk into a most-likely frigid early-morning Minnesota winter, hop in a car and drive four minutes to the Tostrud Center on the campus of my alma mater, St. Olaf College. Then go inside for 150 laps, aka, 26.2 miles.

It’ll be an adventure in monotony like none other. The only event on my resume that comes close would be the 60 miles logged at the Great Cranberry Island 100 in August 2018. At Great Cranberry, participants attempt to run four-mile, back-and-forth laps on a single road. Twenty-five times.

At Zoom! Yah! Yah!, we will change direction every 30 minutes to lessen the impact of making the same tight turns 600 times. Aid stations and bathrooms will never be more than a few steps away. Each runner will have an assigned lap counter from the St. Olaf women’s track and field team. Trash containers will be available for expectoration. No spitting on the track, please.
Why is it called Zoom! Yah! Yah!? Visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QMi98mHUZc and enjoy.

Other than that, I don’t know much about completing an indoor marathon.
But I do know one thing.

Dan King is editor/page designer for the Kennebunk Post and South Portland-Cape Elizabeth Sentry. Four days before the Zoom!Yah!Yah! Indoor Marathon, he’ll celebrate the arrival of 2020 with friends at the Foulmouthed New Year’s Mile in Knightville.

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