Friday, October 16, 2009


So ends the first chapter in my running adventures. The marathon has left me with a bitter sweet feeling. It's sad that after all the time and preparation it's over. However it's exciting because I know that my running is far from over and it's time to start a new chapter!

I've really enjoyed blogging my training diary. It allows me a good vehicle to focus my thoughts about running and a rare opportunity to write and express myself. It affords me time to reflect on my goals and helps me analyze my training. It's kept me focused and accountable and forced me to recognize details about my running both good and bad that I normally would have ignored.

I've decided that I'd like to keep blogging about my running (at least for now) so I've started a new site. So for my one follower and anyone else who might accidently stumble across this site you can now find me at my new site: RISE OF A CHAMPION -


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Day 123! The MARATHON

123 days in the making. The marathon was finally here. I'm not planning on getting too in-depth with my race report because this blog was intended to be more about the training leading up to the marathon rather then the marathon itself, but I'll at least give a summary.

Distance: 26.2 miles
Duration: 3:39:34
Pace: 8:23
HR Avg/Max: 157/167
It was a cold day... about 32 degrees at the start of the race, but with the mass of bodies and my own excitement I didn't noticed being cold. The start was crowded and I was initially unable to get to my 3:30 pace group so I spent the first mile weaving my way until I caught up. Luckily they were more impeded by the crowd than I was so I was able to catch up by the first mile mark. I wound up running the first mile in 8:03 while the pace group ran closer to an 8:30 so they spent the next couple miles trying to get back on pace. For the next 12 miles we averaged about 7:50 miles. By the half point I was feeling great. The pace group must have been ahead of pace now because they suddenly slowed down. I kept my same pace and was soon ahead of them. I continued with 7:53 miles for mile 13-18. Then at 18 my hamstring and quad started to tighten up. Not sure if it was the cold or dehydration or just lack of conditioning. At this point I was a minute ahead of goal pace so I told myself I just wanted to be on pace through 20. I hit the next two miles in 8:29 and 8:31, respectively. Somewhere around mile 19 I got a total runners high... I really felt like I was tripping... that didn't last long though. At mile 20 I really started to slow down. Mile 21 and 22 I ran at 9:26 and 9:21 splits. At mile 22 I saw my friends Will, Christine, and Ervin at the sidelines... at this point I was dying. I was never so happy to see someone in my entire life! They jumped into the race and ran with me for the next mile and really lifted my spirits. Because of them I hit mile 23 in 8:48 pace. As I hit the 23rd mile marked my friends dropped off to the side and with them my good spirits. The good thing at this point was that I only had about 3 more miles to go but the bad thing was that I was really suffering. I slowed down to a 9:40 pace for the next mile. At the 24 mile marker a whole new level of pain and suffering kicked in. I though that I had hit "the wall" before but it was nothing compared to how I felt now. My right knee was really hurting as well as my feet, legs, everything else... I slowed down even more and ran the 25th mile at a 10:10 pace. At this point I was just willing myself to put one leg in front of the other and to NOT WALK!!! I started yelling and barking and cursing at myself to keep myself going... the hundreds of people who were passing me at this point must of though I was crazy... Finally I hit the 25 mile mark and I knew that I was almost done. I looked down at my time and knew that I'd need to run under 10 minute pace to finish under 3:40. At this point I wasn't sure if that was a possibility. I still wasn't even sure if I'd be able to finish without walking. I decided to break it down into 1/10ths of miles which I'd have to run under 1 minute. I picked up the pace slightly and slowly counted down the .1 miles... .9 to go, .8 to go, .7 to go, etc... finally I came around the corner to the final hill before the finish. You'd think that at this point a hill would be hard, but to me it was almost easier since it used slightly different muscle groups. I powered up the hill at a slow but steady shuffle and came around the corner towards the finish. There it was in front of me. This would normally be the time when I use my legendary kick, but not today... I was still just willing myself not to walk. I ran the final mile point two at 9:27 pace and finished just slightly under 3:40.

I had thought beforehand that finishing the marathon would be a triumphant moment but as I crossed the line I felt like absolute crap. Everything hurt. I suffered for the next 30 minutes feeling about the worst I ever have in my life. Finally I started feeling better so I made my way over to the beer tent to claim the best tasting beer I've ever drank.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day 122

Day before the marathon... last training run.

Distance: 1.9 miles
Duration: 17:18
Pace: 8:50
HR Avg/Max: 136/145

took the dogs out with me on my last run. tried out how my race gear would feel in cold weather and I warmed up fast i.e. I'm no longer worried about being too cold. I feel smooth. My legs feel great. The morning was beautiful!

I've done my last training run!

539 miles of running... and I'm ready to run the marathon distance (less than 5% of my total training)

Chitown... here I come!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day 121

Hard to believe that its been 121 since I started this madness.

The taper is going well. I feel like a ball of energy. I've got some various tightness in my achilles tendons when I wake up in the morning but even that is subsiding for the first time in four months. I've been icing my shins every day and they're feeling better and better (I was really worried I had stress fractures, but I'm hoping that since they are improving that this is not the case). I think that my body is going to be as ready as it can be. My mind is another matter.

At this point I'm all nerves... I wish I could go out for a run to clear my head and get some of the antsiness out of my system but I need to stick to the taper. I'm filled with nervous anticipation. I've been focusing on training for the last four months. My time has been consumed with running; The training, the icing, reading about running, blogging about running, reading blogs about running, reading and commenting on running forums, watching running movies, googling every topic even remotely related to running, analyzing my HR data, mapping my runs (damn I need a job!)... obsession pretty much sums in up... not necessarily in a healthy way probably but I guess there's a lot worse things to obsess about... hopefully after the race I can continue the running but bring a little balance into the mix.

Lately I've been obsessed with what ifs: What if it's too cold, What if it rains, what if I can't handle the pace, what if I'm miserable, what if I have to take a dump mid-race...

...but I try to tell myself that worrying is silly... I'm as prepared as I can be at this time... there's nothing else I can do... I've packed my bags... I have all my gear... I'm prepared for the weather... so I'm going to replace the what if's with so whats!

so what if it rains, I've trained in the rain... so what if it's miserable, I'm running 26.2 miles at a pace much faster than I've ever attempted to run for more than 13.1, so of course it'll be miserable... so what if I can't handle the pace, I'll just have to slow down and enjoy the atmosphere... and if I have to take a dump, I guess I'll just have to stop to take a dump, although I hope to god this is not a problem!

Bottom line is that in less than 48 hours I'm going to go out and race for 26.2 miles for the first time in my life... and no matter what happens it's going to be an important experience in my life... In less than 48 hours I'm going to be a marathoner! I used to talk to people who ran marathons and be impressed and I'd think to myself, some day that's going to be me... It was always in my mind that someday I was going to run a marathon, because in my mind I was always a runner... but now it's going to be real.

I have no doubt that this marathon experience is going to be awesome... some people say that it's going to be life altering... I'm still not so sure about that... but on the other hand, I love to run, and I love to race... I have vivid memories of many of the races and I'm confident that in 48 hours this first marathon will be vividly imprinted into my mind as well. No matter what happens this is going to be my first marathon and no matter what happens on race day I'm confident that I'll look back at the day as an important experience regardless of the ultimate outcome.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day 120

Waiting... nervous but excited

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 119

Second to last training run...

Distance: 3.27 miles
Duration: 26:35
Pace: 8:08
HR Avg/Max: 148/161
Tried to get out early so I could see what the cold felt like (45 degrees)... I warmed up pretty quickly and it wasn't too bad. Of course it was also sunny.

I'm thinking that if it's raining on Sunday then it might suck a little bit... but hey, you can't control the weather so there's no point in worrying about it... And in some ways it could be fitting if we wind up running on a cold rainy day in Chicago since the running season really felt like it started at the Shamrock Shuffle in the freezing sleeting cold. Its like everything has come full circle.

I guess now that the training is pretty much over I'm going to use the next few days to reflect on all I've gone through so far... hopefully quantifying my efforts will help me build the confidence I need going into Sunday's race.

- 18 weeks
- average of 31.13 miles/wk
- 537 miles
- 76 hours, 16 minutes, 9 seconds of running
- average HR of 148
- average pace of 8:26
- 69,685 calories burned
- 161.8 miles (30% of training) run at marathon pace or faster
- 87.9 miles (16% of training) run at half-marathon pace or faster
- 3 runs of 20 miles or longer
- 4 runs of 30K or longer
- 15 runs of 10 miles or longer (41% of training)

So here I am... seems like decent training for a debut marathon... hopefully at least a good baseline for my future career in running.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 118

Things are winding down... i'm in my last week of training before the race. training is down to the minimum. full super taper mode is in effect.

I've been reading different theories on tapering... some say 3 weeks others two... some say take it easy and others say cut milage and but not intensity. I guess different methods work for different people (different folks different strokes as my imaginary grandpa might say). I'm just trying to judge by how I feel to determine the best method for me, but since I'm a newbie at this it's hard to say if I'm succeeding.

Four miles on the schedule today. Hal says three but i'm juggling the schedule to four today and three tomorrow since I did my final sorta long run on Saturday instead of Sunday. I also decided that I'd run this at moderate to hard intensity since my legs are feeling a little restless from the lack of running!

Distance: 4 miles (plus .62 mile, 6 minute cooldown)
Duration: 29:44
Pace: 7:27
HR Avg/Max: 152/169
First mile I hit in 7:41, second in 7:30, third in 7:37, and the last in 6:55. This last "hard" run provided a good confidence booster. This pace is close to my near full out 3 mile training runs from 4 months ago, except now the pace feels fast but relaxed instead of exhaustive. Its amazing how much progress you can make in 4 short months... Hopefully nothing compared to what I can do in a year.