You know something …. I’m a marathoner!!
James here. As one of the founders of a drink thats focused on keeping you hydrated from activity and / or rehydrating post evening frivolity, I wanted to push my boundaries and reflect in practice what many of you SOS’ers compete in and thats run marathons.
None of us founders have ever run a marathon so I grasped the short straw and ran with the adventure (no pun intended). Yes Tom and I have have been fortunate to represent our country on the track, but a red / blue 400m circle and the training that goes with it is a very different proposition to pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles.
It was also in aid of our mum who loves running. She ran an impressive 3:46 when she was 50. Unfortunately she had a stroke which rather put a cog in the wheel and stopped her (for now). Though as a tough Yorkshire lass, i was so proud to see her the other day (after learning to walk again) having a little jog in the garden!
She gave me a challenge … to beat her time … Easy .. Not at all!!
Challenge accepted I started training for the Providence marathon in January. The race was 3rd May. I called up Eric Orton for some fueling advice – look out for his blog in a few weeks time on ultra fueling. Got some coaching advice from Mum and our Nike Oregon Track Club head coach Mark Rowland (Toms old coach). His first comment was something along the lines of “are you’re mad, you haven’t run in ages! This will be a challenge, but i’ll help”
Then it was out onto the open and very snowy roads for a Massachusetts winter.
Rather than bore you with the full ins and outs of the 4 mths training here are some learns:
- I’m not as fit as I once was!
- Running in the snow – all 2.75m of it – yes taller than me, was good for the motivation.
- Run with a group. It makes those 20milers go by so much quicker plus the camaraderie and a few post run carbs (beers) were brilliant. Thanks team HHRC
- Learn what fueling and hydration works for you. Now I was lucky that I had a few shiny silver stix of hydration happiness to replace the electrolytes and stop the cramping. Not being biased (just ask any SOS’er) but these were a god send. I wished I’d had them when competing in my former years.
- I also needed some carbs en route. Eric helped me greatly here by teaching me about natural carbs like almond butter. During long runs I used the gels but they really arent needed every 30min as the packet says. Great marketing spin by that lot!! They are useful however and would suggest 1 per hour.
- Protein was bloomin handy in recovery.
- Marathon running put a load of stress on my upper legs which was different front track which is mainly calves. I certainly need to strengthen them if (when) I do another.
- Massage was very handy be it the roller or the more portable sticks.
- Keep the style, its easy to sit on your arse when running slower, but I found that when I pulled myself back to a proper running style my heart rate dropped, I became more efficient and I ran quicker with less energy expended.
I did have a bit of a set back 4 weeks before the marathon when I strained my IT band insertion at the knee. This caused me to stop running or training in any form. Not the best preparation and tough to watch all your new running buddies racking up the miles, then successfully running Boston or London and me warding off the negative thinking about if I’m going to actually get to the start line. Stubborn as a donkey I had a cortisone injection in the knee 2 weeks out. I don’t recommend those as I believe in full rehab, but I wanted to run and it did reduce the pain. I rocked to the start line in Providence last weekend at least being able to jog.
RACE DAY: 3rd May
So what was the best piece of advice for running i had before and after that i should have heeded: Start slowly!
Yup you got it ….. i started slightly quicker than the pace i was running 4 weeks and no training prior. Not helped by an over enthusiastic 3:30 pacer who clearly had one to many energy shots before the race. The funny thing is he still hadn’t come in when i finished … Karma!
- It was exciting to be standing on the start line … my first competitive (well not so competitive anymore) race in 11 years.
- I have to say that it all stated well, the route is undulating with a couple of cheeky hills every 3 or so miles just to remind you that its not all an easy day out but a challenge.
- Then about mile 19 the knee and me started tightening up. Some down to my mad pace going through the half in 1:39 and the other in part down to the ole knee starting to knot / lock.
- Not to be proud, but it did reduce me to walking, something i really didn’t want to do. Well more of a forced Army style march (back to my infantry youth).
- I knew the time i needed to achieve and knew that with 3 miles to go that i was in danger of loosing the challenge. It meant I could no longer walk at 11.25 min miles to succeed. I had to run / hobble.
Whilst it was painful and I’m sure not a pretty sight, it was here that i realized that i was loving it and i knew that i would achieve my goal. Not some ray of light moment, but throughout all the mess and the pain, here i was, a skinny track runner, doing something i had never done and despite the adverse conditions i was beating it and loving it.
Just shows what the human body can do and i challenge you all to push your limits. You always have more in reserve than you think!!
Running through the line was pure elation. As good as winning the national mile champs … Yes. Why? Because i achieved
The time of 3:41, just beat mum, but more importantly I beat my goal!
Did it have time to celebrate. Unfortunately not, I had a 2pm flight from Boston and an hour drive to the airport. It was 12pm.
Thanks to the kind Delta crew who saw me hobbling like a loony and upgraded me when I told them I’d run a marathon a few hours previously!
I did get my celebration in that evening. A few bottles of the bubbly stuff and then a few packs of SOS (hangover recovery) before i crashed for the evening and the best sleep I’ve had in months.
To those of you who have run a marathon, well done i salute you. To those thinking of doing it … The hardest part is starting the training!!
Time to open that scrap book again mum and put in one more race number … well maybe a few more, i quite like this marathon adventure and thanks for the inspiration!!
I’m a marathoner 🙂