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Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself an intermediate runner and I primarily run for competition. I decided to run a marathon for a couple reasons. I wanted to accomplish this feat before I went off to college because there just isn't enough time to fully commit yourself to training for a marathon. I probably run only once or twice a week while I'm at school.

Unfortunately, I had to give up my senior year of running track to properly and adequately have time to train for a marathon, but when I think about it in retrospect it was worth every minute of it.

Training:

My training was sporadic to say the least. My only disciplined training day was on Saturdays when I would do long runs with a local training group. Other than that I just trained by myself everyday running from 3-5 miles a day. I averaged 25-30 miles per week for about 4 months leading up to the race.

The best advice I received while training was not to overdo it because once an injury sets in, it can ruin your entire training plan. Listen to your body, and don't overdo it.

I learned this the hard way. After running my first 18-miler with a couple buddies of mine on Saturday morning, my muscles were fatigued and sore. To this day I don't know why I did this, but the following day (Sunday) I ran three additional miles. I should have done something more like light cycling. Nevertheless, these miles led to my demise and I was out for 2 weeks with light tendinitis in my ankle.

Race Day:

The 2007 Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon was better than expected. The race, in a nut shell, was the most exhilarating experience I have had the opportunity to encounter. The first 6 miles I ran with my high school track coach. He coached me through the first six miles. He taught me how I needed to hydrate at every water/Gatorade station even though I wasn't thirsty. He told me how there would initially be a lot of novice runners in the beginning who would burst out of the gates and not to get caught up in that. I stuck to a 7:35 pace for the first 6 miles. My coach stopped, and told me to stay smart for the remaining of the race. I should have listened to my coach, because what happened next was probably the reason why I didn't qualify for Boston.

When I got to mile 9 I started to speed up my pace from 7:35 to about 7:05. I was in a running "high" (runners who are reading this know exactly what I mean). This would eventually be the BIGGEST mistake I made throughout the race. Around mile 20, I "hit" the wall so to speak and went from sub 7 mile pace to about 9 minute pace.

The last 6.2 miles had to be the hardest 10K I ever ran in my entire life. These last miles were run/walk the entire way to the finish line. Luckily, one of my high school track friends offered to help me run this part of the race. She coached and ran with me the last few miles of the race, and I honestly don't know if I would have finished the race without her.

Recovery:

My recovery was terrible. It was about as long as I excepted, but more painful. For literally 4 days, I had to walk upstairs to my high school classes backwards due to the excruciating pain in my quads. I definitely got some awkward looks.

Running Gear Recommendations:

Clif Shot Bloks
Energy boosters - I had absolutely no idea what these things were before starting my training, but glad I had them with me.
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Running Watch
A must for keeping track of time/pace.
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Training Log
Best self-motivator out there! Writing down a "0" in the training log has to be one of the hardest things for a runner to do.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

You can train all you want, but you have to come on race-day with a strategy and a focused mind-set or all your training will be a waste. The night before race day, make sure you have all your gels, Vaseline, shoes, and clothing layers all laid out so there isn't any unnecessary stress in the morning

Plans to Run Another:

I definitely plan to run another marathon. My initial goal was to run a sub 4 hour marathon. I had no idea what I was capable of when I finished it at 3:21. Running this time makes me eager to run another marathon and hopefully qualify for Boston.

For my next marathon, I would incorporate more long runs into my training. For example, I only had one 20+ mile run before the marathon. I would also boost my mileage up to around 40 miles.

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