Running a marathon was a huge transition. And that’s an understatement. I had no intentions of running a marathon whatsoever because I absolutely loved (and quite honestly I still do) weight training. I knew my gym inside and out. I felt I practically owned the gym with how much I had sweat in there (gross statement but you get my point).
Leading up to the NPC Men’s Physique fitness competition (yes, I seriously did one of those crazy spray tan competitions…), I spent hours working out to have the ideal “aesthetic” physique. After slashing body fat, weight, and carbs, I walked out on the competition stage with my head held high and my chest held higher. Now to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. I knew how to exercise, but how to compete? I spun around to show the judges my back musculature and gave a terrible attempt at a back flex. After the show, my wife and I died laughing at the video footage of anything but a good-looking back flex. It was no surprise I didn’t place. However, the glam oompa-loompa spray tan, extravagant daily sweet potato dining, and routine water-jug chugging made for a quality and definitely fun learning experience. Mentally I checked the box: “Compete in a fitness competition.”
The gym simply wasn’t the same after the competition. I needed a new goal. One that was entirely different and yet just as extreme and challenging as preparing for a fitness competition. One night my wife accused me of being a gym rat (which alright maybe I am little bit) but this was a turning point. She challenged me to do something other than lift weights. Then it hit me, “Like what? Run a marathon?” She laughed. “Yeah, right.” Which actually just made me get kind of defensive and say “I could totally do that…” acting more confident than I really was cause lets be real, I knew nada, zip, nothing about marathons.
So I pulled out my phone to research upcoming marathons. As I researched all the upcoming marathon dates I realized that my options were very limited with the winter months rolling in. In fact, only one was even slightly, maybe, yeah no… not even possible- five weeks away in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Weighing in at about 30 pounds above the typical marathon runner, and with a history of long-distance runs (max three mile distance)… on a treadmill… often times at a negative incline to make the run bearable... I submitted the registration form.
Google search: “5 Week Marathon Training Program”
First search result: “30 Day Marathon Training Plan or Are You Crazy?”
I’m probably crazy…
Step One: Create a game plan. Five weeks was my timeframe. Various online articles had me convinced I was slightly insane, but also, that crazies like me needed to make sure to log a whole lot more miles than three. I increased my weekly mileage to 40.
Step Two: Gear up. I retired my protein shaker cup for a box of glucose gel packs. Also, blistered toes taught me that running in Nike’s showy, comfy, look-great-at-the-gym shoes weren’t cutting it. And lastly, sweat-proof headphones are a must unless you want to be fumbling with ear buds popping out for endless miles.
Step Three: Stretch out and recover. Two days after running my first long run, I was shuffling my feet like a dead grandma. I implemented a stretching routine and focused heavily on my hamstrings.
Step Four: When you approach the starting line on race day, remind yourself of all the sweaty runs you completed, bloody blisters you endured, and maybe even salty tears you shed while training. All these thoughts and more flooded my mind as I approached the starting line. Despite the intense training, I still wondered “Is only five weeks of training enough?”
I threw in my sweat-proof headphones, looked down at my racing flats, and jolted when the gun fired. A glance at my watch showed 7:05 for my first mile. Much better than I was expecting! Mile two pace: 6:55. I was feeling great! Mile three: 6:53. Alright! Four: 6:49. At mile eight it crossed my mind that I might miraculously have a shot at qualifying for the Boston Marathon if I kept it up. So I kept booking it mile after mile!
Then I ran out of gas. “Hitting the wall” at its finest. My muscles tightened, my body started aching, and self pep-talk went from the happy, rah-rah to “You actually paid money to do this?!” Three glucose gel packs and several Gatorade stations weren’t reviving me. My split pace was dropping drastically and I was mentally crying as I lifted one leg in front of the other. The finish line, all lit up on the Vegas Strip at night, looked so close yet felt like eternities away. I zombie shuffled through the finish line and collapsed in a medical tent where they practically spoon-fed me some nasty, salty, electrolyte juice as I babbled like an idiot. But for real…
When bodily functions returned to semi-normal I shuffled out of the tent to find my wife. We huddled into the warm Bellagio hotel lobby. I checked my race time:
3 hours, 3 minutes, and 21 seconds.
Shocked! Ecstatic! For reals?! I literally shouted out “Awwww yeahhh!!!!” (I got some weird looks. People probably thinking I was drunk. Haha I didn’t care) A qualifying time for one of the most competitive marathons in the world!
Fast-forward to today:
I have been so anxious to be officially accepted into the Boston Marathon since it seems like each year they bring the qualifying time back more and more and today the confirmation email finally arrived! My wife surprised me with balloons and some new Nike training shoes. Lucky to have her support and we’re both so excited for the 2017 BOSTON MARATHON!
But first, I’ll be training a little smarter and a little longer than 5 weeks…