Marathoner Q & A

“Of all the races, there is no better stage for heroism than a marathon.”  ~ Sheehan  
Agreed!  There’s just something about the marathon that makes it a great race.  Is it that it’s so incredibly hard that  makes it so incredibly awesome?  Is it that it takes more discipline and commitment than you ever thought you would be able to give?  Is it all the hype?  Whatever the reason, it’s addictive!
Many people start out with the thought of completing 1 marathon.  Then they complete that marathon and start planning their next one.  This is how it has been for Steve (our fellow Star Runner).  After one marathon, he now has a list of ones he plans to complete.  Steve ran the New York marathon last fall, Chicago last month and will run St. Jude in December.
I thought it might be fun to pick Steve’s brain about his most recent one, Chicago, so follow along for our Q & A.
Did you have a goal going into the race?  I generally am not a big goal person.  For me, just completing a race is accomplishment enough.  However, the truth with this race was that I was trying to complete the entire race without walking.  I’m pretty, though, that if I had started out with a managed run walk, I could have finished in a faster time, but for some reason, ever since I first thought about the marathon, I have wanted to prove to myself that I could run the whole thing without taking any walk breaks.  This was my 3rd marathon and I have yet to prove this!
In regards to time goals, did you have an A goal and B goal?  In the back of my mind I was thinking that if everything went right I should break 4 hours, 30 minutes.  I guess that was my A goal.  My B goal was just to leave the race injury free.
When / IF you realized you weren’t going to meet your goal, how did you handle it mentally?  At mile 20 I decided that I was going to walk for a little bit.  So that “run the whole thing” idea was out.  I was still on track to break 4:30.  The idea of having to walk really did not bother me too much.  I just figured I would try this again some other time.  I was pretty excited that it still looked like I was going to have my best time.  About 4 minutes later, when my legs were so heavy that I could not run much faster than a 1 legged dog, I knew that 4:30 was out of the question.  Mentally, I was able to handle this because I felt so worn out that I really didn’t care about not making goals.  At this point all I wanted was to make to the finish line with some daylight left.  I knew that I would see my wife and family at mile 23 so I told myself that I could run, walk, pout, cry, ect. as much as I wanted until 22 and then I needed to pull myself together so that when I saw them they would not pull me off the course!
What would you differently (if anything):
*  1 day prior ?  I would eat more healthy carbs the night before.  I had Chicago pizza.
*  Morning of?   I usually have a bagel and I forgot to get one the night before.
*  At any point during the race?  I would take salt tablets
What did you eat/drink during race? I drank gatorade mixed with water and ate GU
Did you have a fueling plan and did you stick to it?  Yes, the only thing I missed was salt at mile 16.  In NY they had salt on the course.  Chicago did not.  Wether I needed it or not, I don’t know but I planned on it and not having it got in my head.
Did you have a power word and did you use it?  Not so much a power word as a phrase.  I ask myself “how did you end up here?” It gets me thinking and is usually good for a couple of miles. 
Did you hit “the wall”?  If so, tell us about it.  YES!! it started to build around mile 16-18 but I told myself that all I had to do was make it to 20 then I would feel better because I would be so close to the finish.  When I got to mile 20, it seemed like I had soooo far to go and I just knew I was not going to make it.  I wanted to just sit down and relax, but I knew that if I sat down that would be it.  So I decided that all I need to do, no matter how slow, was keep moving forward.  Slowly but surely I started to feel better and the finish finally did arrive.
Highest point during the day?  Seeing Steph and my family at mile 23 and pulling myself together enough right before then that they actually thought I was enjoying myself.
Lowest point during the day?  I was expecting to meet up with my cousin at mile 13 and she was going to run the 2nd half with me.  She has run 29 marathons but had to back out of this one due to an injury.  She was still registered so she was just going to jump in and run with me till the finish.  I was so excited because, with her experience, I just knew she would help me to the finish.  She was not there she had already left to run with someone else which really got into my head.
Best sign you read?  “This is the worst parade ever”
#1 memory of the whole experience:  Unfortunately it was seeing a guy loose his life 500 yards from the finish.  They were doing chest compressions right in the middle of the finish chute and I just knew he was dead.
Best advice as a finisher of multiple marathons?   I am not real good with advice.  I guess I would say just do whatever it takes to enjoy it and don’t let missed goals ruin the race. There were many emotions that I felt during the run but the one that I remember the most now is happiness.  Be happy that you made a choice and you are fulfilling it!!
Thanks, Steve!!  Great race!  

2 thoughts on “Marathoner Q & A

  1. Thanks for sharing and for the good insight, Steve! I know now I need to really think about and manage my pre-race nutrition. I also liked what you said about not letting a missed goal ruin the race. I really just want to finish and have a good time.

    I had so much fun during the half last year and I hope this year is even better.

  2. Great insight from a veteran marathoner. I always look for advice from people that have been there/done that. This just proves that race day can turn on and instant and you have to be prepared to adapt. Great job Steve with getting it done!!!

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