2014 Space Coast Marathon

If you don’t feel like you’re going to throw up after finishing a marathon, then you didn’t run fast enough. In my mind, marathons are not supposed to be social events where participants are the main performers in a parade for their honor. Instead, they are gut-wrenching, muscle-straining exhibitions of one’s mental fortitude and desire to endure against their body’s need to quit.

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Okay, maybe that’s a little overboard. But, for me, a marathon is not about having fun or enjoying the journey, although there is definitely some joy in the first few miles. Rather, the allure of a marathon is that it is a painful experience. An experience where sacrifices are made just getting to the starting line in race-ready form. One where participants train for months in preparation. The harder the achievement of the goal, the more satisfying the attainment. If it were easy, if it were fun, then the joy of accomplishment, or the sorrow of failure, wouldn’t be as great. And that really, is the point.

Anyone can amble their body 26.2 miles and slap a sticker on their car’s bumper, but it’s not the mileage that matters. It’s pushing yourself beyond the point of despair to cross that finish line in as little time as you are physically capable of that matters. It’s hitting the wall at mile 23, fighting the cramping legs and the heaving gut, gathering yourself for that final 3.2 mile assault. It’s about believing in yourself at mile 25 that no matter what, you will accomplish the goal you set out.  Maybe you won’t make the cut-off time that you set for yourself, that’s okay.  What matters most is performing to your upmost on that one day. Giving the best that you can and leaving nothing in the tank as you cross the finish line. It’s about looking like shit when they take that picture of you crossing the finish line and loving that ugly picture because it shows that you gave it your all.

Sometimes I think that we want things too easy and in so, we lessen the experience. There is adventure and awareness in adversity. There is personal discovery in difficulties. So, I encourage you to register for a marathon and to set a few goals for yourself.

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My personal goals for the 2014 Space Coast Marathon were to:
1. Complete a marathon
2. Complete it in under 4hrs – Threshold
3. Complete it in under 3:45 – Objective
4. Complete it in 3:30 – Stretch goal

I didn’t make my 4th goal. By mile 23 I was at the point of exhaustion, fighting nausea and leg cramps. I was heartbroken as I watched my pace leader run off in the distance. I had carried an 8 minute mile pace for 23 miles and in the last 3.2 miles I couldn’t muster the strength to make my cutoff time. I struggled to keep from vomiting, knowing that if I just kept moving and got some fluids in me that I would cross the finish line. Maybe not in the time I wanted, but in the best time I could make that day. Four months of training had come down to this moment and I wasn’t going to make my goal, I was devastated. It took some time to accept the truth, but then I realized that my goals were self-imposed. Nobody cared what time I finished, only me.  But, what I cared most about was training hard and preparing myself for this race and then performing the best I could that day.

So, if you’ve ever considered doing a marathon, do it. But, don’t be a pansy about it. Set some goals, make them hard ones, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make them all. It’s okay. Be proud of what you do accomplish. Most people can’t run for 26.2 miles. Most people don’t have the self-discipline to train for 4 months to get ready for a marathon. But, in the end, you’re not competing against most people, you’re only competing against yourself. So, believe in yourself and if you’ve fought the good fight, be proud your success.

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Marathon training…barf!

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I’m having serious withdrawals from adventure racing.  For some unknown reason I got this stupid wonderful idea that I wanted to run a marathon.  Ana had already ran a full and together we had completed a half-marathon, but I felt that I needed to do a full marathon to mark it off the list.  Well, I can tell you that I am regretting that decision.  Marathon training consists of lots and lots of running…go figure.  We got this book, Four months to a 4-hour Marathon and we’ve been using it to train for the Space Coast Marathon

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The book is fine, it describes a basic running program that will get you geared up for running a marathon.  But the training, my god, can it get more boring.  Hey big fella, I got a great way for you to spend your Saturdays, go run 13 miles, oh and next Saturday go run 15 miles and the next Saturday after that, well just go out and run 17 miles.  Good luck finding a 17 mile route that has anything interesting to look at.  Nope, just go pound the pavement in suburbia, check out your neighbors grass, and come back in 2.5 hours.  So far, our longest run has been 17 miles.  Ana did it on a treadmill.  I would rather poke myself in the eye with a flaming stick and wash it out with alcohol then spend 17 miles on a treadmill.  I don’t know how she did it.

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All I can say is that I can’t wait for this to be over and to get back to adventure racing.  So far we’ve missed some really great races like the Pangea LighterKnot AR and the 7 Hills 3 Rivers AR.  We’ll also miss the Pangea Turkey Burn AR because it is the same weekend as our marathon.

I don’t know how the Ultrarunners do it.  50 miles, 100 miles of running/walking down a trail…not unless there’s a Krispy Kreme and Starbucks after every 5 miles.  Nope, I’ll take my adventure racing, where the course isn’t laid out for you, where there is running, mountain biking, canoeing, dodging alligators, battling water moccasins, getting lost, sometimes crying, always raining, always against the wind, always uphill, always an adventure.  You can keep that boring running shit for yourself.

Pensacola Marathon

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It all started with Stu wanting to do a Tough Mudder and me absolutely refusing.  In fact, I think my exact words were, “No way in hell.” Then, he had to go and tell my wife about it and she, of course, thought it would be super cool.  So, there was no way I could refuse and retain my Man Card.

A Tough Mudder is typically 10-12 miles with 20-25 obstacles and since I had never ran more than 3 miles at once, I was in desperate need of training.  Ana had already completed a 1/2 marathon and a full marathon, plus she does P90x and Insanity on a regular basis, so she was good to go.  The only thing I do on a regular basis is drink beer.  The next thing I know, Ana has me on a training plan.  We used an abbreviated plan from the book she used for her marathons, “Four Months to a Four Hour Marathon” and trained for a 1/2 marathon.

About 2 weeks prior to the Tough Mudder, we had a long run day that was supposed to be 12 miles.  Ana calls me at work and says that since we have to run 12 miles, maybe there’s a 1/2 marathon going on nearby and we can just do it.  Come to find out, the Pensacola Marathon was going on that weekend and all of us signed up.  My goal was to complete it in under 2 hours, which I thought was respectable.  Ana and I came across at a corrected time of 01:55:20 or 8min 43sec per mile.

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Stu came in slightly behind with a very respectable 02:08:01, that we blame on the chili con carne from the previous night 😉 The event was a blast, though I doubt I’ll ever run a 1/2 marathon again.