Learn : Marathon Story  

Note from Editor: Deena is the fastest female marathoner in United States history. She is an Olympic Bronze Medalist (Athens 2004) and the American Record Holder in the Marathon (2:19:36 - 2006 Flora London Marathon) and has graciously shared one of her most memorable marathon stories with us. If you would like to learn more about Deena, visit her web site at In addition, if you would like to learn more about Deena's experience at the 2005 Chicago Marathon, check out the web site of the soon to be released, feature-length film Spirit of the Marathon.

Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself an elite runner and I primarily run for hobby. I decided to run a marathon the day I ran the Sycamore Canyon trail. I was hesitant on whether I could make it to the beach and back. I felt so strong coming back up the hill towards Newbury Park and my pace kept quickening. It took one phone call to my coach: "I think I may be able to run a marathon some day." Three months later I ran my first marathon, the 2001 ING New York City Marathon.


My coach, Terrence Mahon, has me running 100-140 miles a week. This includes short intervals (1K and miles), long intervals (2 mile repeats), tempo runs, and long runs.

The best advice I received was my coach telling me not to go out too hard in the La Salle Bank Chicago Marathon. Our training emphasized "control". I didn't listen.

Race Day:

My race day experience was worse than I expected. I had never won a marathon. Four months of training emphasized a "controlled" effort to run a sub 2:20 marathon - 5:19 per mile. I was so excited and confident I could reach my goal, that I ran 5:10 for the first mile! 5:08 for mile 4. There were some 5:13 and 5:15s in there as well. At halfway, I was on pace to run a 2:18 marathon. At one point, I was 2 minutes ahead of the leader. I continued to run about 5:20 with some surging of quicker miles, when I hit "the wall" for the first time in my career. The last few miles went like this:
  • (mile 23)-5:28
  • (mile 24)-5:40
  • (mile 25)-6:01
  • (mile 26) 6:14!
It was the first time I realized that no matter what mantras, pep talks, techno songs, etc. I called on, my body had NOTHING to respond. Every ounce of will in my mind wanted to push harder, run faster. I had nothing. One look over my shoulder revealed the defending champion closing quickly. Where the hell was the finish line? I ended up winning by 5 seconds. People usually say that you always feel good when you win a race or run a personal best. It was my very first marathon win and it felt terrible! I should have listened to my coach.


I didn't have any problems with my recovery. I did absolutely no running. Because I live in the mountains, this is a great time of year to hike and explore when I finally have the time and energy to do it.

Running Gear Recommendations:

ASICS DS Trainers
I love these shoes!
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Cytomax Peachy Keen - Energy Drink
Great for carbohydrate replacement. YUM!
Search on Amazon

Techno music on my iPod
On easy second runs, I am usually tired; the music forces me to keep up with the beat.
Techno Music on iTunes icon
Search for iPods on Amazon

Tips/Words of Encouragement:

No matter where you are in the pack, the finish line is emotional and rewarding. Marathoning teaches you how to accomplish a goal, by making strides each day. Once you figure this out, you can do anything!

Plans to Run Another:

I plan on running the Boston Marathon in April 2007. Despite a bronze medal in the Athens Olympics and two World Marathon Major wins, I still get people saying, "Oh, you haven't run Boston! Well, my son qualified twice!". I'm running to legitimize my career!

For my next marathon, "control".

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