Two weeks ago was one of those life event days that will stick in memory forever. I raced my first marathon with Lauren Nolan, also her first, at the Space Coast Marathon in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Here I’ll share my decision to race and my experience.
Since beginning to compete in triathlon, duathlon, and run races in late 2014, I found my passion in the shorter distance races including 5k & 10k runs that matched those within the sprint and olympic distance triathlon and duathlon races. I love racing at that, all out full speed feel, testing and pushing my body to the limits. I also train with heavy volume for a few reasons including the love for it. This helps me endure late in the shorter distance races but gives me the ability to flex and race long if I choose to and that’s what happened this fall.
After cutting my duathlon season a bit short, I desired a new challenge for my run season and the marathon was my choice. I raced a few half marathons over the years and ran several 20 mile runs in training but never decided to go 26.2 miles in a race. I decided to test my training and hypothesize my pace by racing in the Halloween Halfathon on Halloween day. That gave me the information and I needed to know and was ready to jump to the marathon three weeks later.
I went in with an aggressive pace plan knowing it would be extremely difficult but I knew I had the legs from training and edge mentally to go after it. I’ve learned from studying over the years about the mind and body along with personal experience that I had to prepare myself for the hardest and most painful of experiences but have the confidence I was going to fight and come through the other side well. That was the mindset going in anyway.
When I walked up to the start line my legs felt as loose as they should have felt coming off taper week. My muscles felt great and I also had my radar up for an issue in my right leg/glute I was working through with Dr. Michael Abenoja. Temperatures were in the low 50s to start with sunny skies in the forecast. I was 100% confident I was ready for a great race.
Mile one felt fantastic and quickly in mile two I felt a numbing sensation in my right foot. Nothing significant and I was thinking it was related to what I was working on with Doctor Mike. I didn’t think much more about it and continued on with a fantastic pace through the first half of the marathon. I was running faster than the half marathon I raced three weeks prior. Confidence was sky high as I was ahead of goal pace, obeying my heart rate targets, feeling great, and fueling along the way as planned.
I continued to feel great and at mile 15 my body began to work as expected. At mile 18 a level of discomfort kicked in with tightness in my right glute and leg and now it was significant. Out of nowhere at mile 19 my left knee felt like it had knives going through it. I thought to myself as I began to limp run, I’m not going to be able to run over six miles that way so I knew I had to change things up. I made a slight modification in my stride and within a half mile the knee pain disappeared completely.
The tightness in right side and both quads were now getting greater and greater. I thought at mile 20 I would tell myself it was just like hopping off the bike in an Olympic distance duathlon with legs worn. That helped but miles 20-22 were the most difficult mentally. I was now bordering on heavy discomfort and pain settling in. Once I got to mile 23 I knew I only had a 5k left just like hopping off the bike in a Sprint distance duathlon. The remaining three plus miles were painful but I fought through every step without giving in and finished the race ahead of my goal and 14 plus minutes ahead of the Boston Marathon Qualifying time for my age group.
I was ecstatic crossing the finish line while also in great discomfort. Lauren Nolan (her journey) came through after me crushing her goal and also qualifying for the Boston Marathon. She looked like she could go again as I struggled for every walking step for the next 30 minutes. We trained hard with discipline, had the mental edge, and fuel our bodies on a whole plant foods lifestyle so we were firing on all cylinders on this day.
Eight days later Dr. Mike pinpointed a bulging disk in my lower back that was the route cause for my issues. I had dealt with it over five years ago so it made total sense to me what transpired. Things happen when doing this type of sport. It is perfect timing as I have time to treat my body with some tender loving care before I’ll need to get rolling with the duathlon training plan beginning in January.
For now I’m reflecting back at this race with great pride in my effort, mental attack, and the plan that set me up for success. In our first marathons, Lauren and I both finished well with Lauren placing 3rd of 80 women in her age group and I won my age group of 61 men. We take pride in our Keep Showing Up attitude towards training. There are no hacks. We both put in a ton of work, pushed limits, and results came.
This was a great diversion, experiment, and event that I’m so happy I chose to do. A little more time healing and away from the duathlon competition and I’ll be hungry as hell to get back at it right around the corner.
– Add Health to Your Life