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Learn : Marathon Story  

Running Background:

I consider myself a beginner runner and I primarily run for weight/control loss. I decided to run a marathon after my training progressed to runs of over 10 miles. When I signed up, I knew it would keep me focused on training, since I had already paid the entry fee.

Training:

I trained for 5 months and I averaged 25-30 miles per week. I didn't follow a specific training plan, however I did look at Hal Higdon's beginner plan quite a bit but in no way followed it religiously. I had fewer long runs on the weekends, or at least not quite as far as he recommends. My longest "training run" was a 30K (18.6 miles) race two months before the marathon. I did several 15 mile runs, but never the recommended 20 miler.

I started running/working out in January. Originally, it was to lose weight. I was almost 270 pounds. I started out on ellipticals, and when the weather was nice enough, I would walk outside. As I lost weight, I began to jog a lap or so. By late spring, I had lost enough to jog several miles. The first race of my life was an 8K on Memorial Day. It wasn't until July, that I started to consider a marathon. All in all, I lost close to 70 pounds.

The best advice I received during training was to take ice baths after the long runs. The water doesn't have to be ice cold, just in the 40's or 50's. This is cold, but very bearable. I noticed my recovery time was much better once I started taking them.

Race Day:

The 2006 Detroit Freepress Marathon was not quite what I expected. I was more nervous than I thought I would be, especially the day before. The morning of the marathon was pretty cold (mid 30's) with very high winds. The number of participants made it a pretty cool experience. Thousands of spectators spread out throughout the course.

I had a lot of trouble with my IT band in my left knee throughout my training. My left knee didn't bother me at all, but my right knee hurt progressively worse from mile 8 to 18.

The course was pretty cool. Crossing the Ambassador Bridge into Canada, while very windy, was a high point. I didn't enjoy the Windsor Tunnel back to Detroit, mainly due to the heat. I was dressed for the cold, so I was much too warm in the tunnel. Belle Isle was extremely windy. I think I would have enjoyed the scenery more if it hadn't been for the wind. The rest of the race seemed to take forever (mile 20 on).

I actually had energy left for the last mile to pick up my pace considerably. A lot of that energy comes from the huge crowd gathered near Ford Field. The crowd support was unbelievable! As I entered the stadium, I didn't realize how steep the tunnel would be. With very little leg strength left I had a hard time staying on my feet. I felt pretty good crossing the line. I'm glad I grabbed a mylar blanket. I remember thinking, "I don't need this, I'm sweating like crazy." Within minutes, I was shivering with chills, and feeling like I was going to vomit. It went away after a few minutes. I couldn't believe it was over. Not just the race, but everything that led up to it. What an incredible feeling. Worth every minute of pain.

Recovery:

My recovery wasn't too bad. I'm writing this two days after the marathon, so take this as you will. I'm very sore, but not as much as I would have thought. My biggest problem is going down stairs. Each day has gotten much better. I'm hoping to ride an exercise bike tomorrow at a very easy pace, just to get the blood flowing. I'm hoping to try a short run in a week or so, but I know I still need some time to recover.

Running Gear Recommendations:

Mizuno Wave Rider 9
Great shoes! Light weight, tons of support.
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GU
I took it with me on all runs of 10+ miles and the marathon. Great stuff!
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Search on Amazon.com

Nathan Hydration Belt
Really helped on long runs with no place to stop for water, Gatorade, or whatever.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

Listen to your body. Rest if you need it, but push yourself when you can. It's a tough balance. The feeling of accomplishment is much stronger than any feeling of pain during the training or the race itself.

Plans to Run Another:

As I trained for this marathon, I said that I would never do it again. It hurt, but not enough for me to say that anymore. As someone who was very overweight, I know I need a goal to focus on or the weight will creep back on. I'm already looking to see which will be my next race.

If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't change anything for this marathon. However, for my next marathon, I think I'm ready to follow a more structured workout plan.

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