Learn : Marathon Story  

Running Background:

In terms of my abilities as a runner, I would classify myself as a beginner who primarily runs for fitness. I decided to run a marathon because completing a marathon was always on my list of things to accomplish before I died. I had started the training once before, but didn't get far enough to attempt the marathon that time. This time, a friend asked if I wanted to run the Chicago marathon with him. Knowing that he was going through the same training and that each of us were relying on the other to be at the start line together was motivation enough for me to do it.


I trained for 5 months averaging 23 miles per week following Hal Higdon's beginner's training program. The best advice I received while training was to listen to what my body was telling me. Due to injuries, I had to miss some of my runs. I was really worried about missing them because they were part of the training schedule, but experienced friends told me that it was my body's way of telling me I was doing too much. Take time off. Let the body recover, and get back at it. At the end of the training period, missing a few of the runs won't matter. If I wouldn't have had their advice, I would have probably run and made the injuries worse and probably wouldn't have made it to the start line.

Race Day:

The 2004 Chicago Marathon wasn't quite what I expected. The first half went well, much better than expected. It was exciting and my body was ready for it, especially after the 2 week taper.

Miles 15-20 were terrible, much worse than expected, especially the mental aspect of those miles because I knew I still had many miles to go, and my body was starting to tire.

Miles 21 to 26 were quite difficult, physically, which is what I expected, but mentally they were fine. I knew I was getting close to the end and that knowledge helped me to continue putting one foot in front of the other.

My main goal was to finish, and that goal was accomplished.

I didn't, however, meet my goal pace, which was probably slightly too ambitious in light of my training runs. However, the disappointing part of the race for me was that I wasn't even able to maintain the pace of my training runs. I met my goal pace for the first half, which again was probably too ambitious, and fell apart in the second half. I wonder how the second half would have gone if I had been less ambitious with my goal pace.


My recovery wasn't too bad. I made sure I replenished fluids in the hours and days following the race. I was amazed how much I was able to drink after the race and the next couple of days. But, I think drinking more fluids than I thought possible was a key to assisting my recovery.

I was not as sore as I anticipated being; however, I was sore. It took a couple of days to go away.

Running Gear Recommendations:

Body Glide
Really helps eliminate chafing in those problem areas.
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Under Armour Loose HeatGear Full Tee
Great fit for the bigger runner. Technical fabrics are a must.
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WrightSock Double Layer Running Sock
Started training in cotton socks. Several blisters later, I switched to these socks and had no more blisters.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

To someone thinking about running a marathon I would say if I can do it, you can too. I am not a talented runner, but I managed to finish a marathon. Pick a training program and stick with it. Be consistent about your training, and you will finish. Don't be discouraged by the distance, either in training or the race. Following a training program will prepare you physically to complete each of the long training runs and the marathon. Don't let the mental aspect of the distances prevent you from doing it.

Plans to Run Another:

I plan to run another marathon because I enjoyed the training, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment in finishing the marathon. However, I was a little disappointed in my race day performance. I just didn't have a good day, for whatever reason. I'd like to walk away from a marathon knowing that I had a good day.

For my next marathon, I'll adjust my goals accordingly. My goal pace was probably too fast in light of my training runs, and it probably was based more on the finish time that I wanted than on my actual ability. Next time, I will make sure that I set a more realistic goal that is based on training and my ability at that time, and not on the finish time that I want.

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