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Learn : Marathon Story  

Running Background:

I consider myself a beginner runner and I primarily run for fitness. I decided to run a marathon because it has always been something I said I would like to complete. In addition I had some friends who motivated me by taking on similar physical challenges.

Training:

I followed Hal Higdon's novice program for the first 12 weeks to build a mileage base and to get comfortable running 6 miles at a time. Higdon's program was 4 days a week. The next 16 weeks I followed the smart coach program from RunnersWorld.com. I chose this program because it involved speed work during the week and long runs on the weekends whereas Higdon's didn't involve speed work. I had been a quarter miler in college and liked the idea of interval training. Also the smart coach program only had me running two days a week which worked into my schedule much more easily. That being said, I neglected to commit myself to the couple days of light cross-training that was also recommended. Overall I trained for 7 months and averaged 11-15 miles per week.

The worst training advice I received was not to wear my orthotics while running. I received this advice from a staff member of a running store where I bought my first shoes. I ended up bruising my arch as my mileage increased. Subsequently I was told to wear my orthotics and the problem was corrected but I did lose some training momentum.

Race Day:

Despite the perfect weather -- sunny, mid 50s -- the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon was worse than expected. My plan was to try and keep the 3:50 pace group in my sights and see where that took me. The first portion of the race had some slight inclines and declines and I ran them accordingly. Things were really feeling great right through the 1/2 way point and I was under the 3:50 pace.

Around mile 14 I started to doubt myself mentally that I could keep the pace and still finish. My pace slowed and I began using the Galloway method of walking for about 45 seconds and then running for 4 to 5 minutes. That really worked well but my time slowed. I couldn't get the pace going again and just plodded through the finish.

I finished at 4:16:11. When I first started training I thought 3:30 was doable based on the times friends were running. As training progressed and my long runs became struggles I decided 4 hours was a better goal to make sure I didn't collapse trying to over do it. My 4:16 was disappointing in many ways.

Recovery:

My recovery wasn't bad. I walked quite a bit after the race and took in a lot of fluids, however, I had to catch a flight and was on a plane for a couple hours within 5 hours of finishing the race. The next couple days I had stiffness in my thighs but was able to go about my daily activities. My toes had a couple blisters that I hadn't had during training though.

Running Gear Recommendations:

Running Hat
Preferably something lightweight.
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Running Shorts
Something that is made of "technical" fabrics.
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GU
Great for helping to maintain energy levels.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

I am really glad I committed to getting in good enough shape to finish the marathon. My time wasn't what I had hoped but maybe I will give it another shot. Erasing any doubt you may have about being able to run a marathon is worth the sacrifice.

Plans to Run Another:

I plan to run another marathon because my wife has also began running and it is something we both enjoy. I don't believe I will become someone who runs a marathon every year but I think I will do it again with shorter races becoming a more common occurrence.

For my next marathon, I'll commit to doing more mileage during training to condition my legs to the rigors of running 26.2 miles. I would also try and incorporate more runs at my desired race pace.

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