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June 05, 2019

My First Marathon!

People running on a road

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