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.
Someone asked me recently why I run? Good question. Here are my answers:
- I run to get in shape
- I run to get to the finish line
- I run to prove to myself that I can
- I run because others cannot
- I run to get away from you, from myself, from everything
- I run to clear my mind (though it has yet to work)
- I run to separate myself from my past
- I run for you
I like questions similar to what I was asked recently; it helps you think about why you are doing what you do. Every action has at least one reason.
Why do you run?
Why do you do whatever it is you do?
Wednesday night was the Torchlight 5K sponsored by Lifetime. This was a race I had been preparing for my whole life, or for less than 24 hours. Upon talking with the lovely Miss Kayla, she invited me to run with her and her people. Since I had just run 3.5 miles and felt really good during it, I thought it would be good to run another 3.1 for the third day in a row. Below are the highlights and lowlights:
- Pretty flat course. The race began off Hennepin near the Basilica, went over the river via the Stone Arch Bridge, and ended at St. Anthony Main. There was one nice downhill near the Guthrie which was more than welcome. Otherwise, no real hills, which was appreciated 🙂
- My time: unofficially, as this was not a chip timed event, was around 26:30 ish, which would put me near my record pace I set at the Gussie Gallop 5K.
- Only stopped twice, though I didn’t feel like I needed to. The first time was to take my t-shirt off. I was wearing Under Armour as well. It was a pretty hot day, and somewhat muggy. The second stop was due to flashbacks or just not knowing what was going on. Upon coming up to the 3 mile marker, I thought to myself ‘I have 10 more to go?’ I guess I thought I was at the half-marathon. Odd. A runner who had been running at my pace passed me and gave me a weird look. I quickly realized ‘oh, I’m almost done’. You don’t have to be smart to be a runner, I proved that to be true.
- Thanks for the warning about exits being closed, Minneapolis! Traffic was of course, a mess at the time we were heading downtown. I figured we would wait in the Dunwoody/Hennepin exit and get off right next to the race area. That exit was closed, with no explanation. Next option: 12th street exit. Also closed, without any warning. Ended up getting off on 4th and parking near the Target Center, then partially running to registration/t-shirt pickup. Granted, it would have helped if we had left ten minutes earlier, but my car decided to be a brat and the alarm system went a little nuts. Thanks to Hyundai Elantra for that wonderful moment!
- 5,800 others also ran this 5K. This made the first 3.0 miles difficult to navigate through, luckily the last .1 mile was a breeze. I felt like I was Adrian Peterson navigating through defenses shakin’, breakin’ ankles, etc.
- Other runners did not have the same objective as I did. Mine was to finish with a good time. Others chose to walk by themselves, or to walk with a group in a line covering the width of the street, or to stop for no reason other than the ‘absolutely necessary photo opportunity at mile .6. There were many people like myself who were weaving our way through this traffic. Kayla almost took out a guy who was sprinting on the edge as she was trying to avoid a slow runner. It was good entertainment for me; though he didn’t appreciate the small laughter I let out about it.
- Not a chip timed race. Not that I need to be super official, but if I am going to spend $35 for a race sponsored by a large company like Lifetime Fitness, shouldn’t there be a at least a disposable chip available? Luckily, I brought my watch for a more ‘official’ time.
- T-shirt design. Very unimpressive. It’s a beige/tan shirt, small logo on the front, with the saying ‘light up downtown’. I guess it’s better than a standard white t-shirt with generic logo. It felt like something was missing.
Will I do this race again? Absolutely. The course was easy, the company was great, and the free beer afterward always helps. (MGD 64 isn’t… horrible; worth the price we paid). What would I do differently? Plan more than ta day before on running a race; get there earlier so I can put the tshirt(s) in the car and not run with them in my hands; go to the front of the line to avoid human traffic; run faster 🙂
Now I need to find another race, 5K or 10K preferred. If you know of one, contact me asap!
Have a great Friday!
Yesterday was my first race since the Minneapolis half-marathon. It was a little 5K, but with new expectations and goals behind it.
Compared to my first ever 5K in April, I had a time in mind: sub 27 minute 5K, which would mean I am running sub 9 minute miles. I did not think this would be difficult, as I have been training harder to improve my pace, and recently ran my fastest mile ever at 5:51.
The race: Gussie Gallop in St. Augusta, MN. My friend Sarah, who was more than gracious to take pictures of me at the half-marathon, invited me up for a fun day of running, Mongo’s, and a favorite past time of mine: BINGO.
The course was said to be relatively flat; that ended up being a lie. I didn’t mind it, since I had struggled with hills in the half-marathon, and need to work on hills to improve. It was an interesting experience running through a small town, next to farms and small homes, and having traffic on the road with you. It was my first experience in a cemetery, as we had to run through part of one towards the finish. It was also the first 5K that had a water stop in the middle. I thought that was only for races longer than a 5K. Sarah and I ran together the whole time, which makes running much easier during both training and a race.
My previous best in a 5K race wsa 29:53, which was during the St. Thomas 5K. Yesterday, I ran 26:23, an improvement of 3:30. If my guess is right, I ran 8:49 miles, which is a big step in the right direction. Anytime you can improve your time by 3:30, that is a significant accomplishment; it’s something I am proud of. I struggled around mile 2; it was very muggy, and I wore a long sleeve shirt over my Nike Drifit shirt, which I had to take off and throw in someone’s yard. The last mile felt so much better than the previous two. Overall, I placed 45th out of 205 total runners, putting me in the top 25%. Never in my life would I have said that I would have run all these races, and be in the top 25% of any race. It feels pretty good.
My next race may be on July 4th, the Firecracker Run, which would be a 10K. Again, I am working on pace and speeting things up. With my height (6’4”) and the long legs that come with that, there is no reason why I can not keep improving my times, my distances, and become a respected runner/athlete.
I hope everyone had a good weekend!
I have been away from the blog for three weeks (bad Jason!). It has not been due to a lack of material, and not fully due to a lack of time (though that has been the reason some of the time), it became a ‘out of sight, out of mind’ situation. I have been blogging a bit on the Spyder Trap Online Marketing Blog, though that is more professional and industry related. A lot has happened in my life in the last three weeks. Let’s give a quick recap.
I ran in the St. Thomas ‘Running to Open Doors’ 5k with my running friend Katie on April 18th. This was my first real run since I had purchased new running shoes. I had been dealing with some foot issues that sidelined me for over a week. Though I improved my time compared to the first 5K I ran by 71 seconds (look at #57), it was very apparent that I was not ready for a race of any kind. I struggled with pacing and cramping, having to actually stop twice to stretch out. Since the race, I have done some running, getting up to the 6-7 mile range. I am behind where I want to be at this time. We are four weeks away from the Minneapolis half-marathon; time to get going!
Work is going very well. I am almost two full months in and have noticed myself grow professionally during that time. I can tell in how I talk with people, how I think through questions; my understanding of all online marketing is much greater than it was just 7 weeks prior. There are plenty of improvements to be made with myself: improving my networking skills: recognizing an opportunity, asking the right questions, etc.; increase my knowledge in web programming: not necessarily with writing code or creating web pages, but with knowing how to talk about it with clients; that is key since I have added an ‘account executive’ hat to the pile I wear already. I want to be a ‘one-person agency’. To clarify what that means: I want to have a wide knowledge base in all that encompasses online marketing, and have the ability to deliver on each task within online marketing. I do not think there is a better way to show value than by having the ability to talk about everything, and execute everything.
Overall, life is going very well. The only obstacle in front of me is myself. In some things in life (it is increasing every day) I am somewhat of a perfectionist. I expect so much out of myself at all moments of the day, i is to the point where if something goes well, it does not excite me, because I expected that to happen. I think to myself: ”why get excited for doing what you were supoosed to do?” Then when I don’t execute something as well as I should have, it makes me go crazy inside, even over small mistakes. I try to hide it as best as possible, though lately I have done a terrible job of doing so.
For those who are perfectionists, were perfectionists, or know someone like that:
- Is there a way to end the perfectionism in you?
- How do you deal with a perfectionist?
Today was the day where I finally tested myself in a race situation. This was not part of the original plan; the Minneapolis Half-Marathon was to be my racing debut. Thanks to my marathon running friend, Kenny, he informed me of ‘Run With the Wolves 5K‘ early this week. Upon hearing about it, I instantly signed up. I have not timed myself once since I started running; this race was going to provide me with the benchmark to establish my goal for future races.
Leading up to this morning, I did not get the night of rest I had hoped for. Staying out a little later than I had planned, my phone kept ringing after 1:30am. Not in the mood to talk, I finally fell asleep around 3am. Race time was only 6.5 hours away.
I woke up only getting four hours of sleep, but I felt really good. I chose to take two days off from running to allow my body to be fully rested. I had a banana and wheaties for breakfast around 8am, leaving me an hour and a half until race time. Check in was easy since I had preregistered. I grabbed my bag of goodies which included a game ticket for the Wolves/Nuggets game tomorrow, a 2008-2009 team yearbook, some Gatorade products for after the race, and other promotional propaganda. Before the race, there was a contest to see if anyone could guess how many hours of sleep current Timberwolves player Mark Madsen got last night. After a couple minutes of guessing, I guessed ‘4:15’, which was close enough, winning me a $50 gift certificate to Dick’s Sporting Goods. Bling!
After some relaxing with the crew, it was race time. My goal was to not take any walking breaks. Based on pure guesswork, I had myself pegged for running ten-minute miles (had not been timing my runs); start, run, finish; that was the plan.
I had never run around Lake Harriet; I am used to the flatter confines of Lake Calhoun, or the flatlands of Hopkins. Lake Harriet has some decent uphill parts to the course which were a nice test for me. I used the downhill parts as my ‘break’ within the race, a strategy I will use in future runs. I kept a nice, steady pace throughout the race. My legs never felt fatigued, further verifying I need to start pushing myself further. I kept seeking out landmarks along the course to use as a ‘checkpoint’. I hope I do not have to keep doing that to motivate myself. At the end of the race, I felt a sense of accomplishment, finishing the race how I wanted to: start, run, finish. I now know how it will feel to cross the finish line.
Now for the analysis of the race: I felt good during the whole race. My right trapezius felt tight from the halfway point on; that has happened a couple times before, not sure what that is from (there is no soreness now), my lungs felt good, my pace was consistent; overall, the experience was solid. The only negative to come of this: there was a guy that was sprinting as far as he could, then walked when he was tired. This was repeated four or five times. I thought the tortoise (me) would beat the hare (other guy). Unfortunately, sprint walking guy sprinted past me in the last 50 meters. I was not too happy about that.
My official time was 30 minutes and 14 seconds for a 9 minute and 45 second per mile pace. That slightly exceeded my expectations of ten minute miles. If I was to keep that pace during the half-marathon, I would complete that race in 2 hours 7 minutes and 40 seconds. Long term, I would like to get below 9 minutes per mile; that might take a little while.
After the race, Ken, Alex, and myself got the chance to talk with Mark Madsen about twitter (he’s now following me… bling!), basketball, and other random things. He’s a very nice guy and was very accessible. We also got a photo with him. I can not wait to get the photos of today from Brit. Thanks to Brit and Marlee for taking pics!
Thanks to everyone for the kind and encouraging words. Today was a step closer to the half-marathon. 57 days away, but who is counting?
Mother nature seems to be testing me lately. Tuesday, I ran in the rain. Wednesday, I ran in 32 degree weather in the snow.
This was my first solo run since Saturday, when I ran about two miles in much warmer conditions. The runs I have done since then have been with people, and for some reason, easier. There is something comforting to have someone running with you.
As for today, Lake Calhoun called my name, and I answered. I had some difficulty getting myself warm running. It took me about halfway around the lake to finally feel comfortable, loose, and warm. I find it amazing how it is possible to actually feel a healthy warm in ‘freezing’ weather. I actually got a good sweat on during my snowy run.
One thing that I found interesting; I counted between 20-30 other runners at Lake Calhoun, with a handful running with their dogs. I thought I was a little nuts, but there was a very tight knit club out there Wednesday. Usually, when you run, you’re focusing on yourself, your run, breathing, etc. This day, there was lots of ‘the nod’ going on, a non-verbal acknowledgement that ‘you’re one of the strong… welcome to the club’. Finally, I am starting to HTFU (Google search it if you’re curious to what it means).
Today, I will be running once again. It is suppose to be a day off for me. However, things changed due to prior commitments on Friday (that should be a blast; I’ll write about that later 🙂 ) Friday is my day off now, with Saturday and Sunday as running days.
Question: I’ve been blogging a lot about running lately. Are there other topics you want me to blog about? I am open to all suggestions.
Til next time,