Sunday, April 24, 2011

Interview with a First Time Marathoner

I asked Jared some questions about the marathon he ran last weekend and below you will see his responses.  Maybe he will inspire one of YOU to run a marathon.  Or maybe he will scare you away from doing one.  Either is the interview: 

1.  What made you want to run a marathon?

I've always known that I was going to run a marathon at some point in my life.  I just thought it would be much later.  But having my brother here and running with him regularly, we decided that we needed to set some goals to keep our training consistent.  A 5K led to a 10K to a half-marathon and then we just figured since we had trained this much, we might as well step it up a notch and train for a marathon.

2.  What training schedule did you follow?

I had been running 15-20 miles a week starting about a year ago.  And in December, when we decided to run a marathon, we found a 16 week training schedule in Runner's World magazine based on peaking at about 50 miles a week.  It's a pretty low mileage training schedule, but it was the best for our busy schedules.  Each week, we did a long run on Saturday that increased by 2 miles until we got up to the week of the marathon.

3.  You are working full time, doing school full time, involved in church, and have a family.  When did you find time to train for a marathon?

This is going to sound ridiculous, but I don't have time not to run.  What I mean is on days that I run, I have way more energy and I can survive on a lot less sleep.  I am much more efficient in everything else I do.  That said, we carved out time in the mornings- always finishing by 7 am, usually starting before 6 am.  The long Saturday runs were in the mornings as well and Courtney is a champion for letting me do it because those runs came directly from time I would have otherwise had with her and the family.

4.  Ok, let's talk about the actual race.  Did it meet your expectations?  Did you have any expectations?

I had 2 goals.  One was to finish.  The other was to run sub 3:50.  All of my training runs led me to believe that I could meet these goals.  Something happened though.  The race was a disaster!  A guy dressed in a Winnie the Pooh costume passed me!  That is unacceptable.  I underestimated the race completely.  Our longest training run was 22 miles.  It went great.  26.2 miles is about 3 times harder than 22 miles.  I bonked.  I mean gatorade commercial style bonked.  I wanted to cry.  The last 8 miles were completely miserable.  My stride was about 6 inches long and for some reason it hurt worse to walk than to run.  I was completely trapped.  I probably would have quit, but that didn't make any sense because I was in the middle of nowhere.  I did finish, but it was about 30 minutes slower than I wanted it to be.  So, no I did not meet my expectations.

5.  What was your finishing time and splits then?

I finished in 4 h 18 m, which works out to 9:53 averages for each mile.  However, at the 18 mile mark, I was running 8:28 mile averages and was well on pace for my goal.  This means that my last 8 miles must have averaged somewhere over 13 minute pace.

6.  What happened during the last 8 miles that held you back?

Every marathoner talks about "hitting the wall" somewhere between miles 18 and 20.  I hit mine at about 18.5.  Most runners also talk about recovering from "the wall" about 2 miles later and feeling great for the last part.  I never recovered.  In fact, it got exponentially worse.  It wasn't my lungs or my heart or even my general energy level.  It just felt like every muscle was being asked to endure way beyond its capacity.  Every muscle from my neck to my feet were just fatigued.  My heels also really hurt (that is why it hurt worse to walk than to run).  The last mile I had cramps in my calves, which I had never experienced before, but were brutal. 

7.  Looking back, what would you have done differently?

Great question.  I've been thinking about this a lot since the race.  And all I can come up with is that my pre-race meal was TERRIBLE and we started tapering down our training too soon.  We ran a half marathon two weeks before and we tapered down the week before that race so we would be fresh.  Then the two weeks between the half and the full marathon we never really put in any long runs.  I think this was a huge mistake to go 3 full weeks before the marathon without any good training.  From what I understand, most marathoners only taper down for a week beforehand - not 3.  Plus, from what I hear, the more marathons you run, the less the "wall" affects you.

8.  What were your thoughts upon seeing and then crossing the finish line?

It couldn't come soon enough.  Seriously, even after I could see it, it still wasn't coming fast enough.  The worst pain was the last stretch.  Even after I crossed the finish line, I still hurt for a good five minutes.  Crossing the finish line really wasn't that joyous for me because I was so upset at my performance.

9.  Will you run another marathon?

If you would have asked me this the first 24 hours after the race, I would have said "NO WAY.  I'm done."  As I continue to look back on the race though, I know that I can do much better than I did.  And I'm already in shape and want to stay that way.  So, I have to run another one.   I've got to prove to myself that I can do better than I did.  I still want to run one sub 3:50. I'd also really like to run one with my wife.  (ed note:  NOT LIKELY)

10.  Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about running their first marathon?

Yes.  Do it.  It's awesome.  Just don't set a time goal for your race.  Don't race against the clock.  Just cross the finish line.  You'll be much happier and more fulfilled.  There is just no way to know what to expect on your first marathon to realistically set a time goal. 


Scotty and Chels said...

Well, Jared just talked me out of ever wanting to do a marathon! ha ha, just kidding! I'd never do one anyway. Good job to Jared though!

Christopher said...

This reminds me of the good ol' days running with Jared through the streets of Fuengirola and doing push-ups in the park across the street from where we lived. Ahh, good times.