Some of you may know that on June 19th, I completed my first marathon. I’ve tweeted and Facebooked about it, and even wrote a haiku about it yesterday:
Marathon complete. | I trained. I ran. I conquered. | Doubters: try again.
Since Saturday, I have had a few people ask for a recap and my insights to my training and during the race. Friends, enjoy:
If you follow my blog, you will know that it was my ‘New Years Goal/Resolution’ to run in and complete a marathon. I was aiming for the Twin Cities Marathon in October, but was convinced by a very persuasive friend named Kenny. During his birthday celebration in January, New Year’s resolutions were brought up. Upon mentioning my marathon goal, he states ‘you should run Grandma’s with me!’ After responding with ‘I want to take more time to train, knowing the next few months are sure to be busy.’, Kenny gives me ‘the look’ and states ‘c’mon, friend! You should run Grandma’s with me! It will count as your birthday present to me.’
I was guilted into signing up to do Grandma’s Marathon.
Training began soon after on the treadmills of L|A Fitness. One issue: I hate treadmill running. It is safe to say that I did not run for too long each time on a treadmill, or even get to L|A Fitness, as my life schedule prevented me from doing so.
Once the weather became accommodating, I started to run outside. While this was easier, I never logged the ‘long runs’ for marathon training. I am willing to admit that my longest run occurred the week of Grandma’s Marathon of 4.5 miles.
Yes, a marathon is 26.2 miles. I understand the math.
My thoughts on such a plan, called ‘plan A’: I was concerned with my pace, which is common for first time marathon runners. if you start too fast, you will burn out quicker and decrease your chances at a strong finish. Remember, it’s not a sprint… 🙂 I thought if I would get my pace down in 3-4 miles, I could replicate that throughout the race.
And that plan worked perfectly, until mile 11.
From the start to mile 11, I did not stop to walk once. I had my 10:15-10:30 minute pace going very well. I never felt winded, tired, or worried about finishing. I actually became more confident as I passed each mile marker. Inexplicably, I chose to walk through the 11th mile water stop. This is where trouble started to brew. I felt my legs be more wobbily than at any time during training, which sent me into a mental panic.
I walked through the water stop, killing time until I chose to run again, wondering if I could run to the halfway mark, let alone the finish. I had to switch to plan B: walk through each water stop, and run in-between. That worked until mile 14, which was the first time I chose to go to the bathroom. I sat down, mostly to get a break. Looking back, getting in a sitting position was the dumbest thing I could have done, other than choosing this particular bathroom, for there was no soap, or toilet paper. Bathroom break: cancelled.
I was running my little heart out crossing the 15th mile marker when something awful happened in my left quad. It felt like something blew up in there, causing the two quad heads by my knee to have little strength remaining. I stopped to do numerous stretches, thinking it was a cramp. Whatever it was, I was unable to run at length the rest of the race.
Hobbling my way through the next two miles, I was looking for a medical tent to get it inspected. I did not think I could continue; I was ready to quit. Lucky for me, there was no tent at that point. There was no way I was going to disappoint those supporting me in Duluth or back home. There was no way I was going to make any doubter of mine correct. I had no choice but to continue; I can heal later.
I went to plan C: power-walking. I knew I could do that around 4 miles per hour, which put me (at the time of injury) around a 5 hour 30 minute finish. I did not have a serious time goal, I just wanted the medal. As long as I finished under 6 hours to qualify as a finisher, that’s all that mattered to me.
At mile 20, I clocked in at 4:14:15, which put me near the estimated time above. I kept power-walking and running when I could (usually downhill). One benefit of being injured was being able to enjoy the scenery that Duluth provides.
Mile 23 comes by, and my friend Britni was there to cheer people in our group on. She tells me one of the guys is only three blocks ahead of me. My mind said ‘go get him!’ My body said ‘don’t even try.’ It was disappointing, but my goal of finishing was still in tact, and still my priority.
Finally, after 5:42:11, I finish Grandma’s Marathon. Everyone else in our group had finished before me, which allowed for everyone to see me finish. It’s a surreal feeling to run down the final stretch, hear your name called, and hear the final beep from your chip over the timing pad on the finish line. Mission: accomplished.
Reflecting on the whole experience of training and the race, I know I can do more and do better. That’s why I will be running Grandma’s Marathon next year, and hopefully another marathon before then. Don’t assume I am addicted, but knowing that I can and will do better is too great of a draw for me to ignore.
Thanks to all who supported me, sent me good vibes, and had faith in me to do this my way. I brought home a medal, which a little piece goes to you. I hope I did not disappoint.
Next time, I’ll train harder, be stronger, healthier, faster, and will not disappoint.
One of the more important ’09 resolutions/goals was to improve my health. One of the obvious ways to do that is to start exercising. Let me give you a brief background on how I’ve done in recent memory with working out:
- bought a one-year membership to Bally’s Total Fitness after graduating college; never used it
- broke my wrist and had surgery, effectively ending my 2008 athletic season; that didn’t help things
- I went up the stairs in the River Centre on Saturday before the Minnesota Wild game; I was thoroughly winded.
Pathetic. That is the one word that describes my workout ethic in the last 17 months. I’m honestly surprised I don’t look like this. Because I don’t, I have a chance to get back to where I’ve been before a few times. I don’t doubt that I can get there, it’s about maintaining and improving.
Last night, I tried to go to bed early: fail. To get myself tired, I figured a few push-ups and sit-ups would do a body good. I did 20 sit-ups, and 16 push-ups, all 20 and 16 were a complete struggle. I don’t mind that I can only do 20 and 16, it’s just a reminder of how far off I am. I plan on doing at least X sit-ups and X push-ups every night and/or morning. I don’t want to join a gym until I’m much further along in this process, plus, I don’t want to be at any gym during January and February with all of those people that have ‘getting in shape’ as a New Years resolution; it makes the gym too crowded. You do get to see who will make it and who won’t.
There’s another reason why I want to get in better shape. Sometimes, to motivate people, you need to put something on the line. Since improving my health for the short and long term wasn’t enough, my friend Brian thought of a good idea: sign up for a race. 5k? 10k? Half-marathon? Of course, there would have to be a wager to make it competitive versus each other; that has yet to be determined. Brian sent me an email with a link to the Minneapolis Marathon, which has a half-marathon and a 5K, on May 31, a day before my birthday. What a birthday present to give myself; finishing my first race, and to beat Brian in whatever wager we have. Whenever I’ve been in top shape, I’ve despised running with a passion. Since I’ve posted this, consider this to be my way of saying ‘yes, I’ll run in a race with you on May 31.’
Here are some questions for you:
- How many of you have ‘getting in shape’ as your resolution?
- Did you join a gym?
- What workout(s) do you do or are planning on doing?
- For someone who’s never trained for a race of any size, what kind of training regimen do you recommend?
Wish me luck, here goes workout #2.