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I Got The Runs

Posted on October 21st, 2011 Filed under Life, Sports

I ran a dang Marathon and here are many paragraphs of what led up to it, all through the finish.

If someone told me 2 years ago that I would someday run a marathon, I would have punched them right in the face for being a damned liar. I thought of running as dreadfully boring, but I would go with Carly on occasion.

Besides going for quick runs around the park, we started going on a weekly 5k. I would have to stop and walk after the first mile or so. Eventually I made it to the halfway point without walking. I was stoked. The next time, I made it the whole way. I was doubly-stoked. After this, I was bitten by the running bug and looked forward to the next run to speed up my time, increase my distance, or work on better breathing and form. Every tiny aspect created a new goal.

I think the goal setting and meeting is the primary thing that changed my mind from dreadfully boring to something I enjoy. It could also be that it gives me time away and can clear my mind. Practically speaking, it’s a boring and silly hobby to run for upwards of hours on end, but that’s the not the reality of it.

Eventually I decided that a marathon was obtainable… ridiculous but not in the realm of impossible as I had always thought of it before. I made this a New Year’s resolution and signed up for the Rock and Roll Denver Marathon for October.


I hadn’t taken the training too seriously up until a couple months before the run. Up until then, I would do a weekly 5k and a weekly 10k. Rain or shine, snow or wind, these runs were always part of my schedule.

The 5k is where I would work on my speed. I think speedwork is generally harder than distance work. It’s over quicker, but it hurts a lot more. Breathing technique is more critical because it’s easier to push your body into needing more oxygen than it can get. Once that happens it’s very difficult to keep any decent pace. Finding this balance is key. I would also use the 5k to work on form on occasion. They say it’s good to run on your toes or midfoot in much shorter strides. This is harder to do than my normal form, and I don’t think it’s very practical for long runs where energy conservation takes priority, but the 5k was a good distance to work in these areas.

The 10k wasn’t always a 10k. It was just my Monday night run where I would go to Trinity Brewing, go for a distance run and then come back for a most satisfying discounted house beer. The run was through Garden of the Gods and ranged from 5 miles to 11 miles depending on what route I felt like taking. It’s a very hilly run and always offered a challenge.

In the couple months before the marathon, I started running more to make it up to 40 weekly miles. I couldn’t get quite enough time to go that distance. I only made it nearly to 30 in a single week, and didn’t run more than 17 miles on any one occasion. A history of these runs are up at:

Although I wasn’t running weekly miles as high as I wanted, I feel that what I was running was adequate, and that I was ready for the marathon, weeks before it came around.

I think marathon training isn’t too bad if you have a regular running schedule and step it up within a couple months of the race.

Race Day

I was pretty nervous for the actual race. I was supposed to run 9 more miles than I had ever run before. That’s all unknown territory. Anything could happen during those 9 miles. At 17 miles, I was broken when it was over, with horrible chafing, bleeding nipples and an inability to walk the stairs. Those extra 9 miles were going to compound well on top of what I had already experienced.

Beyond this, it was also cold and windy the night before. It would surely be worse when I was to get up at 5am and get to the starting line with not so much as a long sleeved shirt.

Nonetheless, I was there and ready to go in the morning. The wind had died down and I was in a big crowd of thousands of people. It didn’t seem so cold then. The race started and I quickly went from uneasy to comfortably running through Denver, taking in the scenery and watching the people on the sidelines with their homemade motivational signs. “Worst parade ever,” was one of my favorites.

My intention was to run an easy 6.5mph all the way through and end with a 4 hour time. After mile 3 though, I had to stop to use the restroom. There was a long line and this cost me a full 10 minutes. With this 4 hour goal on my mind, I stepped it up quite a bit to catch up. It took about 8 miles, but I caught up with the 4 hour pacer. I felt like this pace was doable the whole way through, so my new goal was for 3:50. I kept this same pace up all the way through mile 19.

This is when things took a twist. First, around mile 18, I used the restroom again. There was no line, but standing still for that short time was enough for my legs to start to tighten up. They didn’t feel quite the same the rest of the way through. This is where it started to get difficult. After mile 19, there was a path where a stream of other runners were merging in. I assumed these were the half marathon folks and kept going. I then saw a sign saying we were passing mile 17. I assumed this was a typo and that I was passing mile 20. A good ways past that I realized I was running the same loop I had already run. I could see the portapotty that I had stopped in at mile 18. I don’t know how I did it, but I was going the wrong way and had been for a while. I turned around and went back. Now that my legs were already tired after that stop, and then knowing I just added a couple miles to the run, and that there was no way to make even my 4 hour goal, let alone 3:50, I had lost all motivation. The only goal left was to finish.

I dropped my pace down to what I felt was about 6.5mpg and drudged on through. I found where I missed my turn at the point where the other runners merged in. I’m not sure how I missed it. I get lost easy. Once I hit the real mile 20, I thought it was going to have this effect of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. There was only a 10k left and the rest would be easy. That assumption was completely wrong. There was no motivation in knowing there was only a 10k left. What happened was a slow countdown in miles: 6.. 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1. Many times it crossed my mind that people were not made to do this. Why are people doing this? This is just ridiculous. The last mile was the worst. It felt that it took longer than the previous 3 miles combined. I was losing feeling in my legs. I wanted to just stop and walk, but that was no option because I knew it would feel all the same, except I wouldn’t get to the end as fast. After an eternity of people saying that we were almost there, the end really was actually there. I could see it, and before I knew it, I was past it.

It didn’t take long to see Carly and Sam and his family all waiting for me. I think my body went into shock a bit at that point. I was suddenly very cold. I was shaky and felt completely discombobulated. Carly helped me with my first ever stretch. We got some pictures and went on for the most satisfying salmon and Guinness lunch.

The end.

All in all, the experience was great. I’m very much looking forward to the next one.

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