Alan Webb probably feels like many of the other first-time marathoners planning to run Grandma's Marathon on Saturday.
"It's exciting and scary at the same time," Webb said.
But Webb, 38, is no newbie to running. He's just more used to middle-distance track races.
As a high school senior in 2001 he became the fastest prep miler when he ran a mile in 3 minutes, 53.43 seconds, breaking a 36-year-old record by almost 2 seconds; he made the U.S. Olympic team at the 2004 Athens Games in the 1,500-meter run; and in 2007, he set the American record in the mile — 3:46.91 . Both his high school and American mile records still stand.
But he's never run a full marathon. That will change Saturday in Duluth.
After retiring from professional running in 2014 and dabbling in triathlon, Webb's focus has been coaching running full time and fathering four young children (his wife Julie just gave birth to their fourth daughter last month). But he's kept running and joined in the occasional road race.
Then, last month, he ran his first half-marathon — the Great American River Run in Memphis, Tenn. — where he finished fourth in a time of 1 hour, 13 minutes, 14 seconds
"After that, a few people noticed," Webb said.
That included Amby Burfoot, the 1968 Boston Marathon champion and former executive editor of Runner's World magazine, who emailed Webb asking what he planned next.
"I was like, 'I'm thinking about begging my way into Grandma's because it kind of fits my schedule, do you know anyone there?'" Webb said.
Burfoot did. After all, Burfoot, 74, has been in the sport "for like a million years," Webb said. "He's obviously just really connected."
"I have been a long time Alan Webb fan," Burfoot said in an email to the News Tribune. "We emailed after his half. He said he'd like to run Grandma's but it was full or something. I said I might be able to help. I contacted race management. They were very helpful and eager to have Alan run so they opened a door for him."
Grandma's sent a news release celebrating Webb's entry last week.
Webb said recent workouts suggest he could finish in about 2 hours and 30 minutes, putting him near the back of the men's elite field and toward the front of the women's elite field.
That's fine with him.
"I'm just grateful that I've been able to get running in to where I predict a respectable showing. It would be an inappropriate goal for me to say that I got to be competing to win or anything else ... this isn't my job like it was years and years ago, but I can still get out there," Webb said.
Now an assistant track coach at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Webb said he jumped in workouts with both the men's and women's teams.
"I started kind of getting fit and I was like, 'Hey, I can keep this up,'" Webb said.
After completing a few long training runs, the timing of Grandma's — between coaching college track and cross-country seasons — made sense, Webb said.
"He's not going to set any records of any kind in the half marathon and marathon — those records, including age-group — are astonishingly fast," Burfoot said. "But his return to the sport is a good thing."
Webb said he wants to use the race to set a positive example that running can help people live healthy lives.
Like a lot of people running Saturday, Webb said he isn't coming in with perfect, elite-level training. Instead, he's balancing fitness with a career and family.
"There's a lot of people in the world that are doing Grandma's Marathon that are doing the same thing," Webb said. "Let's go do it."