Guest Post: Running Your First Marathon Part 3

Happy Monday Everyone!  I hope everyone had a great weekend! Sorry for the late post today, here is Michael’s much-anticipated 3rd installment….


In late June we began our official marathon training.  Whitney did a fair amount of research and found a training program that was a mixture of running and cross training workouts.  She had over-trained for the NYC Marathon and was determined to stay healthier and more balanced this time around.  I, being the newbie here, was all for something that would minimize the risk of injury and also provide some variety to our training.  Despite my experience on the day of the half marathon, I was happy that we had built up a fair amount of endurance going into training for Chicago.  This proved useful for our first long run, a 9 miler!  I think I asked Whitney about 100 times if it really was that far for the first week and she assured me 100 times that it was indeed that far.  We woke that morning to some beautiful New England weather, bright and sunny (a trend that continued for practically all our long runs) and completed our run without too many issues, maybe a couple stop and stretch moments along the way at most.  Over the next week Whitney suggested that it was time for me to get a hydration belt as our long runs were going to be getting…umm…long.  My first thought was to just get a 5 gallon water jug and a radio flyer wagon and haul that sucker behind me for those runs, but instead I found a decent fuel belt that would hold 24 glorious ounces of liquid.  The next couple weeks were uneventful, although we did head up to Whit’s family house in Lake George and had a rather hilly workout for the Fourth of July.  We aren’t huge drinkers, but I’d say I was a little disappointed I had to restrict myself to only a beer here and there until after our run that weekend.  This was the first time I realized that the training was going to cause some adjustments and thought in regard to balancing the social aspects of my life with a training program.  As the summer heated up and our long runs stretched out into the teens, I again was experiencing a lot of issues with hydration, despite the addition of a fuel belt.  24 ounces just wasn’t enough for me on those 90 degree mornings with 200% humidity.  Thankfully for us, we were able to run around the Charles River here in Boston, which has several water fountains located all along its banks.  The sweating thing was becoming a little bit of an obsession with me, I was so determined to find a solution to remain hydrated through these runs as I knew 26.2 miles were going to be a real challenge for me come October.  My new thing was weighing myself prior to the long runs and again when I got back in the door, in hopes of establishing a sweat rate for myself.  On one particular 14 mile run, when Whit and I got a real late start and the sun was beating down on us, I lost 14 pounds.  Yes, you read that right, 14 friggin’ pounds.  I started at 192, came home at 178.  I should mention that I drank a lot of water throughout that run, came home and slugged down a glass of water, then stripped down for the scale.  After doing a bit of research online, I determined that in order for me to stay reasonably hydrated with a sweat rate of 1 lb./mile, I’d have to consume roughly 12 ounces a mile.  OK, I wasn’t thrilled with this realization, but at least I now had a better understanding of what was going on with my body and could plan accordingly.


About mid-July we again headed west to Whitney’s family cottage at Lake George, this was a recovery week and I was really looking forward to being out in the boat, relaxing and going on an easy 7 mile run with Whitney.  We headed out Sunday morning for our run and it was, as usual, pretty warm and sunny out.  I felt great during that run and I convinced Whit we should sprint the last couple hundred yards, then I turned to her and said “this is crazy, I’m not even breathing that heavy!”.  I felt like I was turning a corner at this point in our training, I was figuring out how to deal with the rigors of marathon training, dealing with the nagging little aches and pains and everything else that comes with training.  That afternoon we convinced Whitney’s dad to take us waterskiing, so after her brother got done shredding the water with his wakeboard, I jumped in.  I was going to try to get up on one ski, something I was decent at about 10 years ago.  I was up and down a half-dozen times and being the competitive fool I am made another attempt with no success.  I started to feel my legs tiring from being dragged through the water and also that 7 miler earlier in the day, so I was going to call it quits, but then Whit’s dad said “one more time, you’re right there”.  He was right, so I got ready, waved and he hit the throttle…SNAP!!!  I don’t know if what I heard was the rope or my hamstring, but something made that noise.  As the boat circled around to get me I knew something was wrong, so I waved like a maniac and yelled “help!”, I needed to get out of the water immediately.  Whit jumped in and helped me into the boat and as I tried to put weight on my left leg it buckled.  DAMMIT!  The rest of the day was a bit of a downer as you can imagine, I iced my leg, took some Advil and listened as Whitney promised me that I’d get through the injury and it’s just something that I’ll have to deal with going forward.  We got home Sunday night and I called my Physical Therapist, someone I had become friendly with over the years due to a myriad of injuries requiring rehabbing.  He told me to come in, he’d take a look and give me his thoughts.  The first thing he said was that it takes 16 weeks to heal this kind of injury, but he could sense I wasn’t going to listen to this nonsense.  So, he hooked me up to the E-stim machine and away we went.  The next few weeks were the hardest of my life I think.  I couldn’t run and knew that every missed workout was a lost opportunity to train for Chicago.  I was going to PT 2-3 times a week on the days that should have been dedicated to rest or lifting weights, so my legs were just beat to hell from all the added exercises I was doing to strengthen my hamstring.  Mentally I was really struggling because I wasn’t bouncing back as I had hoped and the leg was constantly sore and reminding me that I should have listened to my body out there on the water.  I did fight on as best I could, switching my workouts to the elliptical or doing some hybrid workout of running as much as I could, then heading indoors to finish on the elliptical.  Miraculously, the hamstring did start to improve; this of course came at the expense of every other part of my leg.  HA!  My body was overcompensating for the hamstring, so I injured everything else.  I’m not kidding, due to the fact that I couldn’t extend my leg fully forward on a stride, I had to flex my ankle to get my foot to plant properly (every stride!) and I got shin splints.  And then some little muscle behind my knee started hurting more than anything, then my hips were sore from the elliptical workouts it wasn’t use to and then the other hamstring started hurting for no particular reason at all.  This actually became rather comical; I’d show up at PT and be asked “what should we work on today?”  But despite all this, I was out there running again with Whitney.  Sure, I’d have to stop early on and stretch the leg out really well to loosen it up, but then it felt pretty good for the remainder of the run.  We had a hell month of 16, 20, 16, 20 runs, with long tempo and speed workouts mixed in there.  I was determined to make one of those a good one and give me the confidence I needed right before we headed to Chicago.  On the last 20 miler, we were blessed with a cloudy, somewhat cool morning.  My legs were feeling pretty good, I had my fuel belt strapped on, a half-dozen Shot Bloks lined up to take at 3 mile intervals and a plan to refill my water supply throughout the run.  Together Whit and I powered through that run, she was the encouraging voice she’d been all along “you’re doing great Lovie, you’ve got this” and I even had to give her a rare boost at mile 17 as we both felt our bodies cramping up.  When we were done, I let out a yell; I had come all the way back!

Let the tapering begin…next up, Chicago Marathon!

Michael’s final installment of this story will be tomorrow morning!  Check back for this and later in the week for some exciting news here on LiveRunLoveYoga!


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