In the spirit of continuing to do hard things and riding the high of completing 75 Hard, one of my friends, we’ll call him “Steven”, talked me into signing up for a marathon.
We are in good shape. We have several months to train. Let’s check it off the bucket list.
We signed up for the Fort Worth Marathon scheduled for November 13th.
Day 1: July 12th training starts.
First run was 3 miles. It took me 33 minutes and 55 seconds. 11:18 mile pace. Huh? I remember that being way easier? Oh yeah, 7 years ago when I ran semi-regularly. Crap. I haven’t run in a couple of years. This is going to be quite a challenge.
My training was made up of 3 runs per week.
- 1 short: Sprint pace
- 1 moderate: Moderate pace
- 1 long: Slower than race day pace
I made progress though.
- July 12th: 3 Miles: 33 min 55 secs; 11:18 pace
- October 4th: 3 Miles: 23 min 3 secs; 7:41 pace
- July 16th: 5 Miles: 1 hour 4 min; 12:39 pace
- October 25th: 5 Miles: 44 min 59 secs; 9:00 pace
- August 28th: 12 Miles: 2 hours 36 min; 13:05 pace
- October 2nd: 12 Miles: 2 hours 0 min; 10:03 pace
*To qualify for the Boston Marathon you have to run a 6:52 pace for 26.2 miles. Wow.
My long runs were saved for Saturday mornings.
This was a sacrifice for my entire family. I had to go to bed early every Friday night. It took time away from my wife Friday night and my boys Saturday morning while I was waddling around the house in pain.
The long runs started at 6 miles and grew to 20 over 15 weeks.
Top 10 Lessons:
Lesson 1: Eat every 45 minutes while running.
I found Gu packets at Academy. The Coca Cola flavor wasn’t bad.
Lesson 2: Apply Anti-Chafe Balm to your nips.
I hadn’t ever run long enough for this to be an issue. But it took one long run in the cold rain to get my first pair of bloody nipples.
Once again, I found myself at Academy buying Glide Anti-Chafe Balm.
Lesson 3: Apply Glide everywhere.
Listen, without getting too personal…I’ve got wide hips and skinny bowed legs. But it took one raw undercarriage after a run and I began applying Glide liberally at all recommended sites.
Lesson 4: Don’t borrow anyone else’s Glide.
See Lesson 3…
Lesson 5: Alternate the sides of the road you run on.
Your knees will thank you.
Lesson 6: Stretch and strengthen your knees.
I continued lifting 5-6 days a week. I felt worn down until I started stretching every night before bed. Then I added the physical therapy work from “Knees over toes”.
Both of those made a huge difference.
Lesson 7: 1 salt pill per hour of running.
You can’t properly rehydrate after sweating with water alone.
Lesson 8: Tights are awesome.
A week out from the race the forecast changed dramatically and the temperatures dropped significantly. It was going to be 35 degrees the morning of race day.
Back at Academy, I was scrambling for warm weather gear that wouldn’t cause chafing. I found a base layer for the top and running tights for the bottom. It was recommended that I get a quarter zip pullover and gloves as well.
I tried them on at home.
My wife: “You aren’t wearing anything over those tights? Ooookay. You do you.”
The actual morning of the race was closer to 30 degrees. And my tights were awesome.
Lesson 9: Practice with your race set up.
At the start of the race everything was going according to plan. The pace, the food, the warmth.
The course was two laps of 6.5 miles out and back. The first 13.1 miles went according to plan. I slightly PRd my half marathon time from training and was warm enough I shed my quarter zip at the turn. I was well on pace to finish under 5 hours, which was my goal.
Then I started to fade. I saw a water station in the distance so I threw a salt pill in my mouth. Turns out the water station was a mirage disguised as a cheer squad. My mouth was too dry to swallow the pill so I held it in my mouth. The exterior of the pill began to dissolve and stick to my gums and lips further drying my mouth. A mile later I found the next water station. I looked like Mr. Ed scrubbing the pill off my teeth with my finger.
Lesson 10: It’s okay to be bad at stuff.
Turns out there are levels to this sport. I was dumbfounded by the guy that sprinted the marathon and finished in 2 hours and 37 minutes. Also, blown away by all the different shapes and sizes that finished under 4 hours.
Then there’s me…
At the final turn, around the 20 mile mark, I set my eyes on the gatorade table and stumbled over to it, bending over and spreading my legs as wide as I could. Apparently, I was moaning more than I realized because a man clearly beyond 70 years old was passing me and put his hand on my shoulder.
Old guy: “Are you okay, son? Are you…going to make it?”
Me: (In my head: Get your liver spotted hands off of me!) “I’ll make it. Thank you.”
The last 6 miles were tough. I sprained my ankle 2 weeks prior to the race running a Tough Mudder and the ankle was in bad shape at this point.
It was gritty but I crossed the finish line at 5 hours and 12 minutes. That was all I had in me.
I definitely wasn’t the first to cross the finish line but I wasn’t the last either.
Steven’s parents were at the finish line taking pictures and laughing at us squirming in pain. I found myself on my tailgate in an upright fetal position when Steven’s Dad told me that he was going to drive me home. That was best for everyone’s safety.
That was my first marathon. Was it my last? I am not sure. But I probably won’t do another for a while. I will do some half marathons though. The training takes half as long and the wear on my body is considerably less.
I have so much respect for the actual runners that run marathons. That is such a mental battle.
I succeeded. I did something really hard that I had never done before. On to the next hard thing.
2 thoughts on “A Marathon? How Hard Could That Be?”
You’re a funny man! And I truly respect your determination. Proud of you, bud.
Haha thank you, sir!