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Learn : Marathon Story  

Note from Editor: Ryan is one of five runners featured in the soon to be released, feature-length film, Spirit of the Marathon. If you would like to learn more about this movie and Ryan's experience at the 2005 Chicago Marathon, check out the web site.

Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself an intermediate runner and I primarily run for fitness. I decided to run a marathon because I never thought my body could do a full marathon.

Training:

From the get go I was a Hal Higdon groupie. I followed his training plans to a T for my first 6 or 7 marathons. For the Austin Marathon, I followed his most advanced schedule during the 2002-03 Chicago Winter. Since Austin is a February marathon, I spent a lot of time running in sub-freezing weather. I remember on one 20 mile training run looking over at my buddy and he had one inch icicles coming off both sides of his hat it was so cold. I'll tell you it was not very fun at the time, but I think it made me faster on race day getting rid of all that extra clothing.

I averaged 35 miles per week during the four and a half months I trained for this marathon.

The best training advice I would share is to not worry about speed on long runs -- just get the distance in. Use speedwork to get quick and your long runs to go 26.2.

The worst advice I received was -- once you get running it really isn't that cold.

Race Day:

It is tough to pick just one marathon to write about. Do you pick your first one where you crossed the finish line holding your future wife's hand, or maybe the one that had only 43 runners and was in the middle of Norway. I just decided to pick the one that had pretty much everything a marathon could have.

For Austin, it was a cold start - about 35 degrees (if I remember correctly) - and windy. I trained with my running buddy, Paul Broderick, and along with our wives hit the start with plenty of time. But then all of a sudden, the gun went off (don't ask me how we were late to the line), so knowing that I was trying to qualify for Boston, I took off. That was the last time Paul and I saw each other. I don't think we were ever separated by that much, but as with any marathon, the crowds were pretty big and if you don't focus on your race, you can screw things up pretty quick.

I really don't remember the first half of the race. All I knew was that I was on pace to qualify (which meant maintaining a 7:15 pace for my age at the time). I was feeling pretty good at 13.1. Then things changed a bit...

For this particular year's course, right at about halfway, you climb about the only significant hill on the course and head west. Now, the hill wasn't really the problem, it was the hill combined with the 15 - 20 mile per hour wind (max gust that day was over 30 mph) that was the real problem. For the next 2 or 3 miles, it was pretty much single file running as people tried to draft as best they could heading west. I survived pretty much on pace, but was feeling pretty close to shot. Luckily, the next 4-5 miles were back east - thank God - recovery.

At 18 I remember getting my last water bottle from my wife, but I don't remember any other runners around me. I know that they must have been there, I just don't remember them being there. I think that was because I was so focused on crossing the finish line in 3:10 or less - or I was already delirious - you choose.

I was still feeling good, but that quickly went to one mile good, one mile bad. And when I mean bad I mean stomach cramps, wanting to quit, you name it. But that is the "great" thing about the marathon...sometimes when you just keep running, things tend to "work themselves out".

Now I was over 20 and coming up on the turn home - which meant back to the west. So from mile 23.5 on, it was pretty much all into the wind with rolling hills. I just remember the carnage along the way. People were walking, throwing up, you name it. I just wanted to get to the finish line.

I'll never forget crossing the line. 3:11:10 - missed it by that much. For Boston, they'll give you the seconds which means if I ran a 3:10:59, I was in. So 11 seconds is what I missed by. I didn't know whether to scream in frustration or elation. It was by far my best marathon, but I had missed my goal. Talk about mixed emotions. It was a great race, that offered pretty much everything - I'll always remember this marathon for so many reasons.

Recovery:

I didn't have any problems with my recovery. First things first, we had to go to Z-Tejas on 6th Street in Austin for dinner. If you have never been, I highly recommend it, one of the best in Austin! Beyond that, I rested my legs for 2 or 3 days and then started shuffling/jogging just to get the blood moving again. Light stretching, the usual, nothing too unique. Recovery has never been my one of my strengths. I usually eat too much and drink too much the week after a race -- a little celebration never hurt anyone.

Running Gear Recommendations:

Landice Treadmill
Solid and has a really comfortable running surface - even for a 200+ pounder like myself.
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New Balance 881 Running Shoes
Gotta love the cushioning!
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Water Bottle Pack
Great training aid! And if you can use it during the marathon, it can save you tons of time skipping the water stations.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

You have probably heard them all, but I love the quote by Dick Beardsley, "When you cross that finish line, it will change your life forever." How it changes your life, well, that is up to you, but I can tell you that it does.

Plans to Run Another:

I'm planning to continue to run marathons because I can't stop. I am totally addicted. I did 3 last year, so I'll probably take this year off and do some other events.

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