The day had finally came. On March 31st I attempted my first marathon. After 18 of training, all the blood, sweat, and tears was finally put to the test
I was running the Minneapolis Marathon. Last year I trained to run the 2014 Minneapolis marathon. However, a thunder storm caused the race to be rained out. I call it a blessing in disguise. During my marathon training I realized I was in not prepared to run that race. My weekly mileage averaged 10-20 miles a week, I was doing a poor job carb loading, and I barely had a race plan. If I ran that race I would’ve fell hard. But now the 2015 race came and I went in feeling confident and well-trained.
Sunday morning started without a hithch. I woke up at 4:30 extremely well rested. I had all my race gear laid up the night before. This left plenty of time to gobble down my carb-filled breakfast and to force myself to use the bathroom. After reading through various marathon reports I learned it’s best to go to the bathroom as much as possible before the race.
Shortly after waking up I had my massage therapist friend stop by. I scheduled a warm-up massage session with him to help loosen up any last minute tension. After 30 minutes of work I was ready to run. I made sure to fit in one last bathroom break before heading out. I left a little before 6:00, it should’ve been ample time to get to the starting line before the race started. Unbeknowest to me, some construction sites had caused me to detour enough times to arrive late. The race started promptly at 6:30, and I was cutting it close at 6:25. I got out of the car roughly two blocks away from the starting line and I raced to the starting line. I started my race at 6:35.
I was the the last to start in the race. I knew I had to make up for lost time so my goal was to run at a moderate pace to catch up with the 9:00 min/mile racers than keep at their pace for the rest of the marathon. As I ran I started to catch up with some of the runners going at a 11:00 min/mile pace. Then I began to pass them. Soon I found myself passing by a lot more of the runners. By mile 4 I felt well energized and had passed by over a hundred runners.
This made me cocky. I gradually increased my pace as I passed runners. For the next few miles I kept a mental map of the route. Every 2 miles I was going to drink a cup of water. Every 7-8 miles I was going to have an energy gel. I was still passing by the runners effortlessly. By mile 6 I was greeted with a long stretch of hills. I slowed my pace down so I didn’t tire my Type II muscles. Thank goodness for that. I was seeing many runners keep at the same pace as they went up these hills. It wasn’t long before I, and many others, started to pass them.
The first 8 miles went by quick. I didn’t feel slightly tired and I was still passing by runners. I felt like by now I had to have been coming close to the 9:00 min/mile runners. I decided to pace myself with another runner. I spotted a runner ahead of me wearing a bright red shirt and an orange headband. He was going at the same speed as I was so I kept close behind him. He and I were whizzing past many of the runners ahead of us. I was impressed that he and I were able to keep a solid pace even when we neared the halfway mark. However, by mile 11 I noticed he started to slow down. I had done well to keep in range of him, but now I found myself going at a lot slower of a pace than I felt I could run. I decided to run ahead of him hoping he’ll catch up with me soon. I never saw him the rest of the race.
Between miles 12-13 I was switching off between people to pace behind. Many of these runners I try to pace with would be the ones who would burst ahead of me for a short distance only to shortly lose steam and fall behind. I finally caught up with the 9:00 min/mile pacers. I felt myself going at a reasonable pace and decided to move on ahead of them. Finally I reached the halfway point. I was excited to have made it so far and not even feel tired. The last half of the marathon was a loop. We would run an extra 6.5 miles from the half way point then turn around and run 6.7 miles back to the finish line.
I felt comfortable at my pace, so I had the crazy idea to attempt negative splits. The last half was extremely hilly. I had tried to do well to slow my pace down, but even then I started to feel my muscles tire. I was approaching mile 16 and I started to slowly feel the effects of my running. It was only then I reminded myself “You are not running this as a race, you’re running this to complete it. Slow down”. I started to keep my pace slower, but I feel like it was too late. I was no longer being the passer, but the one being passed. I took another energy gel by mile 17. It did not digest well the rest of the run. I felt sluggish by mile 20, and I forced myself to take my 3rd energy gel by mile 21.
I started feeling delusional at some point in my run. By mile 21 I saw a kid try to hand out what I assumed was half eaten piece of corn. My mile 22 I referred to the guy handing out a plate of oranges as Saint Juicy. By mile 23 I realized I had been holding an empty plastic cup since mile 22. By mile 24 I settled that if I eat that last energy gel I was going to vomit.
It was a struggle to run those last 2.2 miles. Every step ran was another step I wanted to slow down and walk. However, I kept pushing myself to keep going. I kept thinking to myself the encouraging thoughts I had during my training, “It’s faster to finish if you just keep running”, “You had not stopped running so far, why start now?”, “It’s easier if you just don’t think about it”. It was tiring, but I was able to push myself run the longest 2 miles I had ever ran. I saw the finish line and I crossed it feeling overjoyed, finishing with a time of 3:47:44.
I felt like I was walking on jello, but I was too happy to care. I not only completed a marathon but I ran it’s entirety. My brother and my girlfriend greeted me shortly after. I was grateful for them to be there. I tried to scoff down some water but my body was struggling to consume anything. The next half hour felt like torture.
I had tried to make sure I stood up and stretched out. I was too tired to move, and too tired to stand. I eventually collapsed on the ground unable to feel my arms. I had to be fed my food because I couldn’t move my body. I knew something was wrong and asked my brother to get First Aid. After a short while I found myself lying down on a bed with 5 different guys asking for my name. I couldn’t remember much, I did remember the feeling of cold towels, people forcing me to drink fluids, and then waking up to the sound of “We Are The Champions” playing nearby. I eventually was given the go to leave. I hobbled down to the car eating the baggie of pretzels given to me at the finish line. They were the best damn pretzels I’ve ever had.
That puts an end to my marathon journey. At least for this year. I spent the next two weeks trying to walk normally. I admit, taking a break from running only made me anxious to run more. The 18 weeks spent running were tiring, but it felt worth it in the end.
Were there things I would want to change? Sure. I would’ve gotten to the race earlier so I could have ran at my goal pace. I felt like passing by the slower runners just drove my arrogance to run faster than I should have. I would have stretched out more during my training to avoid my knee injury. It would have allowed me to put in a lot more mileage and maybe finish a bit easier. I would’ve skipped the idea of doing negatives. I realize that just because I’m doing well the first half, doesn’t mean I’ll keep it up the second half. I would’ve also have skipped the energy gels and switch off between water and Gatorade. My need for first aid was caused by a lack of electrolytes. After I chugged a good few cups of Gatorade I started to feel normal.
Overall, I had fun. I would definitely recommend anyone who has never done it to run a marathon, and I mean RUN a marathon. My experience has caused me to push myself hard. It’s now a lot easier to quiet that voice in my head that tells me to stop going when things get tough. I have a new found confidence in myself because of it.
Thank you all for reading my Marathon Training blog. It was an exhausting journey, but it was worth it was worth it in the end. You may have noticed that at some point I stopped posting the Hanson’s Marathon method reports on my blog. I apologize for this, but my schedule wouldn’t allow me to write a summary of the chapter so frequently. With that being said, I still plan on summarizing the chapters. Now that my marathon is finished I will be making posts that will summarize each chapter. These chapter summaries will hopefully be posted on a weekly basis. Stay tuned for any updates on this. Until then, remember to stay dedicated and train hard.
Run the Minneapolis Marathon ACCOMPLISHED
Run a Marathon ACCOMPLISHED