Learn : Marathon Story  

Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself an advanced runner and I primarily run for fitness. I decided to run a marathon because I am a "50-Stater" working on finishing a marathon in every state and DC. Last year when I was getting ready to check off North Dakota from the list, I convinced a friend to run the Fargo Marathon with me. She had done only one other and was disappointed with her results. So, she agreed somewhat reluctantly and set her sights on running a qualifying time for Boston.


For the Fargo Marathon, we followed the START program outlined in Runner's World, and loosely intended to follow it for Boston. It consists of running three days a week: intervals, a tempo run and a long run. As I've gotten older, I've found that my body responds better to fewer running days mixed with other cross training. I've run as fast as a 3:40 following this program.

We were disciplined in our Fargo Marathon training, hitting all of our long runs on schedule and doing interval training mid-week most weeks. The Kansas City winter was mild which allowed us to do most of our long runs outside. We went to Fargo and conquered that course, running a 3:43. We were both convinced that if the whole back half hadn't been so darn windy, we would have broken 3:40 easily (of course, woulda coulda shoulda.) Regardless, we were well under the 4 hour Q time and were Boston-bound!

Fast forward seven months later. Our training wasn't as regimented. The weather was not cooperative and we therefore had to run many of our long runs at the gym, me on the treadmill, my friend running in circles around the .1 mile indoor track. It was easy to talk ourselves into postponing our run to the next week, since after all, the challenge was getting to Boston. Now we got to "enjoy" the experience.

The best advice training advice I would share with others is if you want to run fast, you have to train fast. But, at the same time, I have to vary intensity to both keep it fresh mentally and physically.

Race Day:

The 2007 Boston Marathon was better than expected.

As race day approached, we got news that the weather outlook was not looking too good. We received tips on how to prevent hypothermia and were given bleak forecasts regarding windchills. Unfortunately, the weather forecasters were correct this time. It was cold, windy and rainy the entire time we were in Boston.

We were up most of the night listening to the rain pelt against our hotel windows. We turned on the local news to see the reporter at the finish line hunched in his nor'easter gear, looking like a drowned, well, television reporter.

We got up and dressed in multiple layers in an attempt to be prepared for the worst. Miraculously, by the time we reached Hopkinton, the rain had abated. Though very soggy, it was actually ideal temps for running. While the weather turned out to be far from ideal, it could have been much, much worse.

However, it was a long day for me and my running partner. She was plagued with stomach issues during the race and therefore we spent a lot time around the portajohns. Regardless, we finished.

No matter how much you train (or don't train as the case may be) there are certain things about a marathon that you don't get to control. Obviously, the weather is one thing. But, there will be days that the shirt that you've trained in a dozen times suddenly decides to chafe you on race day. Or, the gels you're used to makes you queasy during the race. Or, you just don't feel up to par. It's the nature of the beast and why we keep coming back to challenge the marathon gods again and again.

The only downside (aside from the not-so-perfect weather) was the lack of food at the finish. Since we were in the back of the pack, there wasn't any food left except a few bananas. Luckily, our hotel was close to the finish line so we were able to get back and hit our private stash relatively quickly. It's a great race and a great experience.


I didn't have any problems with my recovery. I try to take in protein within an hour or so after finishing the race. I also find that walking a lot the day of the race helps speed recovery. I have done up to nine marathons in a year and I am rarely very sore.

Running Gear Recommendations:

GU and Gatorade
I can't get thru a long run or race without them. I remember trying to choke down a Powerbar during a race. I'm not knocking them at all, but they were hard to eat while running. Gu and other gels are incredible!
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Arch Support Insoles
Over the counter arch support insoles such as Sof Sole's arch supports. I've never had another issue with plantar fasciitis since I started using them.
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Electrolyte/Salt Capsules
These have helped to settle my stomach when I've consumed too many GU/Gatorade cocktails.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

Marathoning is all about patience and persistence. Patience to keep running through the fatigue and persistence in continuing to put one foot in front of the other.

Plans to Run Another:

I'm planning to continue to run marathons because I have three more states to finish up the 50-state goal.

For my next marathon, I'm going to train more, but I know that I won't/don't always train much before a race. (Back to that patience and persistence thing!)

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