June 05, 2019
I finally ran a marathon! Well, I ran—hobbled—walked a marathon actually, but I’m still checking this one off the bucket list. I didn’t prepare for the run, and that showed at about mile 16. In relation to my ability in my own sport, I did not perform to my full potential—but I finished. Why did I choose to impulsively upgrade from a 5K to the full 26.2 miles? I felt the energy of the Eau Claire-Marathon was exactly what I needed to make it through such a grueling trial. The spectators, the beautiful scenery, the sunny day, these were all elements that I estimated would give me the push I needed when my internal dialogue began to falter. Even though this was an impulse decision, I could not be happier with the outcome!
At four in the afternoon on Saturday, the day before the marathon, I sat down on the couch after returning from the Eau Claire-Expo at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Last year's relay race for the same marathon ran through my mind over and over. I distinctly recall feeling as if I had somehow received the cheers of the crowd under false pretense. I am healthy and relatively young, there is no reason I should only be running a portion of the event (this was my fiercely competitive brain speaking). There were men and women struggling through a run three to four times longer than the length I ran, and yet, I received the same applause as them. It was unsettling, thinking I was about to do the same thing again this year—and my run was even shorter this time. Additionally, with the large number of runners in the classes I coach, I knew this was the opportunity to learn what they go through being endurance athletes. The biggest reason however, had nothing to do with anyone else but me; I was starving for the mental challenge that I knew this run would provide.
I found myself back at the Expo at 5pm on Saturday. I approached the last minute sign up table and asked the woman sitting there if it were too late to upgrade from the 5K to the full 26.2. She got a smile on her face, stuck her hand in the air to give me a high-five, and said, “absolutely… that’s awesome!” They even waived the additional cost. Now my crazy impulse had just turned into a reality.
I wasn’t too nervous prior to the marathon—I had no idea what I was in for. I decided the four hour and fifteen minute pacer was the person I would stay in front of for the majority of the race; that lasted for about the first half. I even took a picture of my two hour and nine minute half-marathon time when crossing under the black inflatable arches that marked the half. But then something I’ve only ever experienced in the military hit me at the 16-mile marker. My legs became heavy, as if they’d turned to concrete; the feeling of pinpricks covered my entire lower half, and my hip flexors felt as taut as guitar strings. Even my traps and shoulders were aching. I knew I was dehydrated, a clue being the goose bumps that formed on my arms, and even more worrisome, I knew that the lack of training my aerobic energy system had just caught up with me. I resolved that I would crumple to the ground, dead preferably—my pride could not handle this failure, or I was going to finish the marathon. This is when the cheers from the crowds gave me the push I needed to put one foot in front of the other for the remaining miles. Turning the last corner and seeing the finish line, I knew that this was an event I would cherish forever.
I can’t say I’m going to become an endurance athlete, but I will definitely do a marathon again. Next time I’m going to do the appropriate amount of training. I plan on attending coach Craig’s pose running seminar on June 22nd at 10am, so that I can start my preparation for next year’s marathon off on the right foot. Crossing over into unfamiliar domains of fitness is exactly what CrossFit is all about. I hope to see many of you at the seminar, and until then, keep get’n Mo!
Written by Coach David Carlson