Smaller By The Day
There's so much to say, but I'll try to keep it relatively organized so that you can skip the parts that don't interest you.
Background: When I decided that I wanted to really get into running about 1 1/2 years ago, I decided that I was going to run a marathon. I was overweight (see my signature), and I had found the Hal Higdon novice program. I thought I'd just follow that, and be ready for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon with less than a year of running under my belt. After a couple of 18 milers that seemed to drag on all day, I took the advice of some of the regular posters from RWOL and drop to the half. It was my first half, and I felt I had done well with a 2:03:56. I had also lost about 85 pounds in the process. Don't get me wrong. I'm still a pretty big guy today. Anyway, on January 1st, I signed up for the full marathon at the same event for 2013.
Training: I had used Daniels Plan A to train for a half in the spring. I shortened up the program and some of the runs, but still went up to 16 miles multiple times. I wanted to get the feel for the quality runs, and the long runs in preparation for using the program for the full in November. Training was really hard, but it was going well. Well, I ran a 1:54:07. That felt great, and I had decided to proceed with my plan. I had a wedding in May. So, running became something I did whenever I could find time, but I was building a base and running often.
In June, I worked my weekly mileage up to 60+ miles per week, which I decided would be my peak during training. I managed to follow my training almost to the letter give or take a few miles each week. If it said 100% of peak, I might end up with 63. If it said 70%, I might end up with 40. I was always within a couple of miles. The only exception was a vacation where I missed a couple days of running while camping in the Blackhills and Badlands.
During my training, I had two races. There was a 5K in which I didn't really have the motivation to really push it, but I still ended up with a PR of 23:36. Then, I had a half marathon on a hilly course and I felt great to pull off a 1:46:50.
Bumps in the road: I really wanted to get down to 200 pounds before this marathon. Unfortunately, I did get below 210 for a very short time. I was also having problems recovering from training runs, and getting out of bed in the morning. I tried to adjust my calories slightly, and it wasn't enough. I eventually settled on 215 (100 pounds less than when I was at my heaviest) as a weight I could carry for the marathon, and not negatively effect my training. I'll work on the weight more now that it's over.
Then, there were multiple foot issues. It could be weight related. That's a lot of miles for a guy my size. My first issue was with the right foot. I'd already put in a ton of miles with the same make of shoe, and this just came up during a peak mileage week. I tried some things and it get better. Then, this last week my left foot suddenly felt like it had a nail going through the bottom of it. It came out of nowhere, and I was in the middle of my taper. I had 3 days until the marathon, and decided to just shut it down. I didn't see any sense in trying to run at this point. I would just pray that RICE therapy would have it ready for race day. During this time, I also treated some callouses. I'd figure out a little something more about this injury the night before the race.
The Night Before: I had brought 2 pairs of shoes for the race. I had a pair with about 50 miles on them, and another with almost 400 miles on them. My last 20 mile run was in the pair that had about 400 miles on them. That run went really well. I put one of each on, and found out that my foot creates a divot in the shoe right where I have had foot problems. Both foot problems started in newer shoes before the divot was created. So, I decided to wear the older shoes that already had the divot.
It was a good night. The expo was awesome. We had gone to Noodles & Company, and we had planned to get to bed early. Well, at 11:00 PM, the fire alarm went off. It was a false alarm, but I had been asleep long enough that it would be almost 1:00 AM before I finally got to sleep and stayed asleep. The Hyatt Regency is really nice, but that was not cool.
Pre-Race: My wife and I got up at 5, and had breakfast ready. We learned that last year. We had bagels, bananas, peanut butter all laid out. This would also be her first HM (like it was for me a year ago). The weather looked like it was going to be great. We got dressed, and I threw on a throw away shirt. I had ripped the collar and cut off the bottom hem. That way, I wouldn't have to pull it over my head. We did a mini warmup in the room before heading out into the brisk morning air.
It was still dark at 7:30, and nobody was in the corrals yet. We were both nervous, and I wasn't designated for a corral. We were both supposed to line up behind the corrals, but she was going to have to line up well behind me. So, I gave her a kiss and we wished each other good luck. I wouldn't see here again until after the race, which made me even more nervous.
As I lined up, I realized the pacer I had talked to was in the level 4 corral. I gave it some thought, and finally just crossed the line and jumped in the corral. I would have felt bad about it, but I was confident that this is where I belonged. I certainly wasn't hurting anyone.
I got to know the rest of the runners in the group, and tried to keep my mind off of the fact that my foot could suddenly burst into a bout of intense pain at any minute like it had during the week. I tried to clear the doubts from my head, and the fear that I hadn't done everything I could to prepare or to help my wife prepare. Suddenly, that familiar race day feeling hit. It's that feeling of, "Well, this is happening. You can't stress your way out of it. Just run.". So, I ran.
The Race: For those who love race details, I'll do my best. It took a while to get to the start line, but once we got started there was a lot of jockeying for position. I tried to keep my eye on the pacer's flag. To be honest, watching his flag was a nice distraction when there wasn't something interesting going on with the spectators.
The spectators were awesome. I thought the massive amount of cowbells given out by the race directors would be annoying, but they seemed to be spread out nicely. There were great signs like "Don't poop your pants", "You're running better than healthcare.gov", etc. You know how the signs go. The most interesting one to me simply said, "Fear the turtle". It was interesting because the guy managed to pop up over and over and over along the course. He seemed to be following our group. Also, we had our names on our bibs this year. Hearing someone yell your name from time to time was pretty cool.
Did I ever mention that my goal was a 3:50? Anyway....
First 10K: 54:24
This part of the race flew by. At some point I ditched my throw away shirt, gloves and hat. I had managed to grab water at the stops without running over anyone. That was a major accomplishment. Best of all, I was right where I wanted to be with my pace. The pace group leader was doing a great job.
First Half: 1:54:42
I'm still feeling great after the first 10K, and I'm amazed at the lengths that they went through to make sure that the half marathon and marathon runners each went the right directions. Mile markers are still flying by. I'm seeing more front yard parties and live bands. Most of the runners in our group are still looking strong. Every time I hear Eye Of The Tiger, or the song from Rocky, I have to fight the urge to throw my arms in the air and celebrate. Everything is going great. I'm 18 seconds ahead of pace, and I'm feeling confident.
Last Half: 2:02:52
I reached the 30K mark at 2:44:04. I might be just a little bit off of pace at this point, but I'm still feeling pretty good. The slight inclines along the course though are starting to feel like actual hills. A weird thing had started to happen. Our group was falling apart. I was a little bit behind, but we had people stopping to walk, to use the bathroom, to stretch, etc. It's a strange thing, but watching that happen can mess with your head.
At 20 miles, I had lost a bit. Don't get me wrong. I felt great from the waist up, but the legs were starting to give my mind the middle finger. It was a bit of a battle. I guess I expected that, but I was still within my goal of 3:50 according to my pace band. I had actually made up some ground since the 30K mats. I just had to really focus to keep the legs going as fast as I wanted to go.
Mile 21 or 22: Was when my worst nightmare began. The pain cropped up in my foot. It wasn't the same foot either. It was the other one. Crap. Well, only 4.2 miles...RIGHT? It was around this time that the route went through a section of road that had just had the asphalt ground down. Do you know what I mean? They use those giant machines and then grind up the surface so they can lay new asphalt and it will stick? Yeah, it was like running on large pointy rocks. The other foot started screaming.
Mile 23: Both feet are screaming, and I can see a guy being loaded on to a golf cart. He's visibly upset and holding his knee. He's 3 miles from the finish, and he's going to get there on a cart. Holy crap. I feel like I'm running with two shoes full of glass. I'm pretty sure I picked up an ACTUAL rock in the road that's under construction. What the hell?
My hamstrings decided this would be a good time to voice their displeasure. Not to be outdone, my calves put in their two cents.
Mile 24: My quads decided that they would act as a distraction. Sorry, quads. You can't shout louder than my feet. I can't hear you. My body tried so many ways to convince me that it would be okay to walk, or that it would somehow help. My mind decided that the best way to get this over with would be to keep running. Forget about pace. That was out of my hands now. Last time I looked it said 10 minutes per mile. That's not setting records, and it's not my goal pace. You know what? It's still running.
From here on out, I'm seeing more spectators and I mean a LOT of them. It's just what I need. I'm not going to let them see me quit. I'm going to run dammit. Every time someone said, "You're looking strong", I'd think, "They're talking to someone else". Then, I'd hear someone read the name off of my bib, and say that I looked strong. I almost wanted to slap them for saying it, but realized that they had good intentions.
The finish line was crazy. There was every type of bad finish, and every type of great finish you could imagine. My wife said there were people being carried across the line. I saw several piles of vomit. I saw limping, and I saw people blow by me and finish strong. Then, there was me. I simply kept running at whatever pace it was that I was running with my shoes full of broken glass. I got a bit emotional, but I kept the tears at bay.
The funny thing is that I told myself a million times that walking wouldn't help my feet. After the race, I found out that it actually did. HAHA! I'm glad I didn't know that.
MY TIME: 3:57:33
AVG PACE: 9:04
In case you missed it, my wife was waiting at the finish line. She had her finisher's medal on, and a smile on her face. That was the best part.
Here are some photos from after the race:
Post Race With Swag
Post Race Meal
Oh yeah...the state of Indiana spins :-)
I kept these! Screw you! I ran a marathon!
They sell beer here!
Okay, enough of that!
I'm pretty pleased. Was a 3:57 my goal? No. Is 3:57 an awesome number? Yes! I have no regrets.
My plan for 2014 is to train hard for distances from 5K to HM. I want to race more, and I want to run faster. I feel like I would like to return to the marathon in 2015, after I've dedicated a year to working on my speed at shorter distances. I noticed while training for this year's marathon that it was easier because my long runs didn't take for-friggin'-ever. I could run 20 miles in under 3 hours. I would like to be faster before training for another marathon. I also want to be lighter, and that might go hand in hand with the other goal. Now that this behind me, I'm going to have to stay away from the post-race party foods pictured above and really focus on getting down to my goal weight. That's the plan for 2014. I want to get leaner, faster and run more races.
Today, I'm going to drink a beer and watch football with my sore feet, quads, hammies and calves up on a stool....lol
Weight 100 pounds lost
5K 31:02 Sept. 2012 / 23:36 Sept. 2013 (Same Course)
10K 48:59 April 2013
HM 2:03:56 Nov. 2012 / 1:46:50 March 2013
MARATHON 3:57:33 Nov. 2013
St. Jude's Hero Profile
Great story and report, Awood! You did it! Congratulations.
Congrats to you and DW. Your RR was exceptional. I already know those demons you mentioned, they are pounding on my head all the time. I just hope I can do what you did, and shut them up till the finish line come December. I think you have a good plan.
I checked the Oak Barrel tonight, over 600......
Oh, heck yes, Awood!!! Man, I am really proud of you. It has been an absolute pleasure watching your transformation. You are a runner and a marathoner!!! I'm glad the weather cooperated with you today. Judging by your RR, your mind was free of distractions until the late race pain set in, so I am happy you did not have to worry about extreme cold or rain. Take tonight and bask in your glory, you earned it BIG TIME!!!!
Santa Anita Derby Day 5k - 5 Apr
Mountains to Beach Marathon - 25 May
Nice work, Awood! Sub-4 on your first marathon, I love it. Given everything you had going on at the end painwise, you were still really close to your goal.
And, I hope you figure out what causes that foot pain, it sounds miserable.
Want a discount code for the San Francisco marathon? Message me :)
Awesome job dude. I told you months ago you would go sub 4 hours.
That first beer after the race was one of the best ever wasnt it???
”Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”
Mmmmmmmm. Robert the Bruce. Damn good beer. Did you say something about a race?
Short term goal: 17:59 5K
Mid term goal: 2:54:59 marathon
Long term goal: To say I've been a runner half my life. (I started running at age 45).
Haha...you guys have no idea how excited I was to see that they carried Robert the Bruce. I had some at home in the fridge (just finished them), but then again it is brewed in Hammond, IN. I don't see it served at a lot of bars though.
WTG you! You so earned this sub-4 hour marathon. Congratulations, and excellent job hanging in there even when the pain was telling you to stop. Great job to Pew, also. You should both be very proud.
Don’t work harder than you can breathe,and you’ll never get out of breath.-- Johnny Nuguyen
Congrats. Sounds like you had a great race despite some tough miles at the end.
Great debut! Congratulations!
Congrats and great debut!!
Dad on the run.
Great job Awood! Way to hang in there despite the pain you were going through. And a huge congrats to your wife as well for the half.
My parents said I could be anything when I grew up, so I decided to be Awesome!
Congrats - Nice race! Even better beer.