Excerpts from an email sent after the event:
Oh gosh, what a race. First, my time:
1st 13.1 miles: 1:53:42
2nd 13.1 miles: 3:02:54!
Those times pretty much explain it all. I was feeling totally awesome both mentally and physically until about Mile 18. Then, I hit the wall. I’m talking about complete physical breakdown! Mentally I was still okay but could not overcome the physical aspect. My main problems were mainly my arms, strangely enough. I had THE WORST pain in my triceps and deltoids. It felt like my body was breaking down those muscles for a source of protein. It was absolutely unbearable! My joints in my ankles weren’t doing the greatest either, though at least tolerable. So, despite futile efforts to run, I was mainly walking from miles 18-24, totally moaning. I was a dying man. I honestly have never felt so wasted before. I would have walked it in but Dan finally caught up to me at Mile 24, which was the greatest thing that could have happened in those circumstances. We ran (limped) the last 2 miles in together, raising hands high when we crossed the finish line. It was an amazing feeling. We did it! It was probably the greatest physical challenge of my life.
So that answers my question as to which is more difficult, a marathon or a double century. At least for myself, the easiest marathon is more difficult than most doubles. Actually, that’s not exactly a fair assessment as I didn’t train nearly enough for the run (e.g., the most I ever ran this year was 6 miles, and here I expected myself to run 26!) It’s just that I never enjoyed running long distances enough to have enough motivation to do so. Probably a good thing though; it is hell on the joints! Still, I have the utmost respect for anyone who can run a whole marathon.
More about what happened to me in this race (including a fairly embarrassing encounter with a police officer) is in the Colorado Runner article, “How To Prepare For (And Run) An Interesting Marathon.”