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Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself an intermediate runner and I primarily run for fitness. My first marathon was the 2004 Chicago Marathon. I ran it in 4:15 and wasn't very happy with my performance. I wanted to run another to see how much my improved training and half marathon experiences would help me better my time.

Training:

I trained for 4 months following the FIRST Marathon Training Program. The program involves running 3 days per week with an interval workout, tempo run, and long run. The program also recommends cross-training 2-3 times per week in addition to the runs. I didn't do the cross-training and wish I would have. Aside from the cross-training, I followed the rest of the program to the letter. In general I really liked the program and would recommend it to others.

The best training advice I received was to make sure not to skip any long runs and to run them slow. With the 3 day per week plan you really can't afford to miss any days, but the long runs are by far the most critical in preparing for the marathon.

Race Day:

The 2007 Brookings Marathon wasn't quite what I expected. I trained for this marathon in the hopes of running a 3:35. I knew that was a lofty goal and based on my training, specifically the two 20 milers that didn't go so well, I readjusted my goal to running something in the 3:45 range on race day.

The weather was excellent. It was about 50 degrees at the start of the race with a little breeze. The two previous years in which I ran the half marathon, the weather was cold and windy, so I was excited about the good conditions. I was feeling really good. My legs felt rested after a 2 week taper and I was feeling pretty confident about running a 3:45.

Despite feeling great and the conditions being almost perfect, I kept telling myself not to start too fast. Unfortunately my legs didn't listen to my mind.

I ran the first couple miles at an 8:00 minute pace -- about 40 seconds faster than I should have been running. A friend of mine who was out supporting me at several spots along the course watched me go by at about the 2.5 mile mark and all he said was "restraint". I tried to listen.

I managed to get into a little better rhythm for the next several miles keeping my pace right around 8:30. Still a little fast, but I was feeling great.

As I approached the water station at about the 8 mile mark I heard my 3-year old son yelling "Daddy! Daddy!". He was handing out water to runners and he spotted me right away and wanted to make sure I took HIS water cup. Seeing him and the rest of my family and friends gave me a needed boost.

Miles 8-11 seemed to go by quickly and fairly smoothly. My pace slowed a little. I was running in the 8:40 range and I could tell my legs were starting to get a little tired, but nothing to be concerned about.

From mile 11.5 to about mile 13.5 we ran into a fairly strong head wind. Now I could definitely feel my legs getting tired. I was definitely having to work to hold my pace. This was a tough stretch for me mentally because I wasn't even to the half-way point yet.

My pace continued to slip as the miles went by - 8:51, 8:55, 9:00, 9:20. I kept telling myself, "just hang on." I knew my 3:45 goal was gone, but I would still be satisfied if I stayed under 4 hours.

The course goes one block from my house at about the mile 22 mark. My family and friends were out supporting me and, again, it was a needed boost. Mentally I knew I could finish at this point. I was still a little worried about my sub-4 hour time, but I felt like that was within reach too.

The final stretch of the course went well. I didn't have much left in my legs, but I was able to maintain my pace and I knew I would finish under 4 hours.

I finished in 3:56. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but not a total disappointment either. I don't feel like I hit the "wall" or "bonked". I just didn't have anything left in my legs to keep going as fast as I wanted.

Despite not doing as good as I had hoped, it was a great experience. The Brookings Marathon is a top-notch race (I might be a little biased considering I live in Brookings). The organization of the event is great, all the way from the packet pick up to the post-race support. There are a LOT of volunteers out on the course helping runners at aid stations, crossing streets, encouraging runners, etc. I'll definitely continue to participate in this event whether it be the full, half, relay or volunteering.

Recovery:

My recovery wasn't bad. I tried to drink a lot of Powerade and water immediately following the race. Two hours after I finished, I took an ice bath. My quads were pretty stiff the next day, but two days later I felt good.

Running Gear Recommendations:

Garmin Forerunner 305
I really like this for training. I never feel "tied" to a particular route. I just run wherever I want and I let the GPS tell me how far and how fast I'm going.
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GU
I took 4 of these during the race. I think they help.
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Adidas SuperNova Cushion 6
I switched from Asics 2110s to these during my training and I really like them.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

Do it! Stop watching TV, stop eating chips, get off the couch and run (or walk or shuffle). Your body will thank you. Your mind will thank you. Your Dr. will thank you.

Plans to Run Another:

At mile 18, I was telling myself, "This is definitely my last marathon!" At mile 25, "A sub-4 hour marathon is good enough -- I don't need to run another." One day after the marathon, "Maybe I'll do another." Two days after the marathon, "I think I can do better."

I don't have any specific marathon plans yet, but I'll definitely think about doing it again. I do plan to continue to run half marathons. I'm planning to run the Deadwood Half Marathon in a couple weeks.

For my next marathon, I'm going to start slow and really work to run negative splits. I'm also going to incorporate cross-training into my program.

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