Dion Roberts from Fairfield, OH (Male)
Age on race day: 17
2006 Ohio River Road Runners Club Marathon - Xenia, OH
This was my 1st marathon and I finished in 3:24:43.
I consider myself an intermediate runner and I primarily run for competition. I decided to run a marathon because I felt that I would be a better runner when distances got longer. For 5K races and below, I was only average, but I always enjoyed going fast on long 10+ mile runs.
Referencing different online training programs, I created my own that I felt would fit my time schedule and would not be too difficult for a first-timer. I trained for six months and I averaged 40 miles per week.
The best advice that I got concerned the marathon itself. I had many people tell me that the last 6.2 miles were going to be a great challenge. These people were right. They were the most challenging and painful 6.2 miles of my life, but I was prepared for it and felt very rewarded when I was finally finished.
The 2006 Ohio River Road Runners Club Marathon was better than expected. The race was a very small event with about 300 people total running in the Half-Marathon and the Marathon. The marathon only had about 130 participants. It was a very flat course, and with the exception of a 5-mile loop through the town of Xenia, it was an out-and-back on a bike trail. I was happy with the organization of the race, the people were nice, it was easy to get to the start line, sufficient water stops and restrooms, etc.; but the crowd support was minimal. Because the large majority of the race was on a bike trail, I was mostly surrounded by trees throughout the race and got awful lonely. There were a few open spots for spectators, but those were sparsely populated.
The race itself went better than I had planned, but in retrospect, I still could have done much better. My goal was 3:30 (8:00/mile) but I started the first 10 miles around 7:45/mile. The next 6 miles would prove to hurt me in the end. Feeling good, I sped up into the 7:20 range until about mile 18 when I started feeling fatigue and began to slow down. The last 4 miles were an absolute disaster as I averaged slower than 8:30/mile with miles 25 and 26 taking well over 9 minutes. I finally plodded in at 3:24, and nearly passed out from not having taken in enough calories during the race. I had only one gel and passed up many of the water stops. I felt that it was good for my first, but I know that I made some mistakes and that I can do better. But I finished! And that was good enough.
My recovery was pretty rough. I walked like an old man for about 3 days. Any movement of the legs was painful. I stretched for about 30 minutes every day to help the stiffness.
Tips/Words of Encouragement:
The entire marathon experience (training and race) is a wonderful and fulfilling experience. Every time you run a mile further than you ever had previously, you feel great and gain so much confidence. It's definitely worth the time and effort.
Plans to Run Another:
I'm planning to run another marathon because I have goals to eventually qualify for and run in the Boston Marathon. For my next marathon, I am going to add more mileage to my training, keep an even pace until at least mile 20, and take in more gels/water/gatorade during the race.