How to Run Your First Marathon

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By Luke Kayyem
Originally posted on SICFIT.com

Let me first off say that I am not a runner. Never have been, nor do I think I will ever become one. To me, a runner is someone who has practiced, trained, and competed in running as a sport. I personally played a lot of sports that had running in them: baseball, basketball, and football. I did run track for a season my senior year in High School. But, this was strictly for the high jump and it was during a time when I was rehabbing my hand and unable throw a baseball.
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Before the P.F Chang Marathon, the most I ever ran at one time was 17 miles. And this was only in preparation for the race and was about a month before it. Let me back track a few weeks and remind myself once again why I started training to run a race that just happened to be 26.2 miles long.
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I broke my hand on October 14th during a high-speed/low-rep 30 inch box jump. After realizing I wouldn’t be able to pick up a barbell or string together muscle ups for a few weeks, I decided to switch gears and challenge myself in an arena I was unfamiliar with. I personally must commit to a race, competition, event, or something with a set date in order to train consistently — or else I won’t push myself or dedicate the time to training. So I signed up for the PF Changs Rock & Roll Marathon with a little less than 96 days, or 13 weeks, or 3.1 months to train for it.
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Once my goal was set, I knew I would need help accomplishing it. So I found an endurance coach with more experience than myself to guide me in the right direction, customize my programming, and give me the nutrition and supplement advice I needed. This Coach was Sean Nugent, who not only guided me through the finish line but signed up and completed the race with me. (Below is a sample month of Strength In Conditioning, time trials, and long runs that Sean customized for me.)
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Had I not had Sean’s expert guidance, I don’t think race day would have been so easy for me. Well, let me be clear: by no means was the race easy. The last 7 miles were HELL! But the preparation, advice, and instructions given to me made the day of the race and the day’s leading up to it feel as cool as the other side of the pillow.
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Having spent the past five years training for Competitive FITness, my only running has been in warm ups and in the 400 meter runs that show up in my training a few times a week. With this in mind, Sean had me start off pretty easy in October with a 5k time trial. Then we added some distance: seven miles, then nine, then twelve, a 10k time trial, a 15 miler, and finishing my longest run with 17 miles. I incorporated some strength training to my programming, which I did when my legs needed a rest. I wanted to keep my legs fresh, so I never ran more than 25 miles in a week.
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After my cast came off, I figured it was time to start lifting again. One muscle-up session later and I re-aggravated an old injury, tearing my tricep. As far as my race training was concerned this didn’t appear to be a setback until the pain became intolerable every time I ran. Eventually, I got a series of Prolotherapy injections which helped the pain tremendously and required virtually zero down time.
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The biggest take a away I have from running with and running without strength training is I felt weaker when I wasn’t able to squat, press, or pull. I lost a few pounds of muscle and allowed myself to eat more junk than normal. A deadly combination that I combated with my training for the marathon. Like most, the Holidays threw me a few lemons and then I got sick. Two days in bed, then another two days to fully recover. By this time I was two weeks out from race-day and found myself needing and doing more mental preparation than physical.
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Here are a few bullet points that helped me finish my first marathon in a time of 3:53:50.
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Equipment: Let’s start with the priorities. You must have a great pair of running shoes. Something light, comfortable and not too new or old. I got my New Balance shoes sometime in December, giving me two months to break them in. I found a watch that can count up and one I could easily read while running. Save your money for the better shoes and scratch the heart rate monitor, iPod, or tv remote controlled watch. Follow the motto, “simple is smart” when deciding what gadgets and gear to invest in.
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Next, you will need a runners pack: something that holds fluids, a place for your phone, keys, and some cash. I waited too late to find the right one and it took me a few miles of fidgeting to get it fitting the right way. From my own personal experience, Camel Packs bounce too much and are better kept for trekking, hiking, or trail runs.
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Underwear, socks, a hat and sunglasses are no brainers but I must emphasize the importance of quality socks and drawers. As a male, I prefer skins or boxer briefs. For the socks, low cut runners socks, something that draws sweat away from your foot is your best bet.
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As far as shorts and shirts, wear what’s comfortable. Race-day conditions were perfect, starting at sunrise with a cool 55 degrees and finishing at 75 degrees by noon. I was able to strip off my pants and sweater right before the race and run in shorts and a t-shirt — both were SICFIT of course. I had to let my crew know I was coming from afar.
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Nutrition: Let’s start with day of. This is such a fragile time for a runner and if you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a thousand times: “DON’T TRY SOMETHING NEW ON RACE DAY!” At 5:00 a.m. I had white rice and bacon while drinking Gatorade and water. At  6:00 I had a Lara bar (peanut butter and choclate) with water, and about 20 minutes before start-time I had a couple BLOK chews that are actually quite tasty and are made with brown rice syrup and not corn syrup.
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Once the race started I had planned to eat (drink) a meal every 45 minutes. Meal one was a combination of powdered Gatorade and whey protein in a ratio of 2:1, two parts carb to one part protein. Meal two was a starch carb alone that had a 3:1 ratio. After each meal I followed with a sip or 2 of water — whatever I could swallow while running and breathing at the same time. We had dropped these containers at miles 6, 12, 18, and 21, where volunteers assisted in handing them out. Thank you so much to all of you. You were truly lifesavers.
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I never felt low on energy, sugar, or carbs and with water and gatorade hand outs at every mile I was fueled well for the race. My pre-race meals included sushi (white rice & fish), grass fed hamburger and sweet potato, and a ton of Almond butter and apples. Coach Sean had drilled the importance of not dehydrating leading up to race day and I made sure I was drinking plenty of water and Gatorade all week long.
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Supplementation: I  want to start out by saying nobody should be taking supplements unless they are living a 90/10 lifestyle. Meaning they eat clean 90% of the time and 10% of the time they don’t. If your nutrition is dialed in, taking suplements will raise your game. If it’s not, it will only slow you down and waste your money.
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So let’s start with the priorities again. First off, drink Gatorade a lot when you run long distance. I prefer the powdered stuff so I can make my own mixes. One scoop Gatorade during runs 10 miles or less. One scoop Gatorade + one scoop protein for runs 10-15 miles long. Anything over 15 miles I like 2:1 scoops, Gatorade to protein, giving me 60g of carbs and 25g of protein. This is the same formula I use for post workout when training for competition.
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I always have and always will take fish oil 2x a day, along with 1000mg of Vitamin C, plus 7,000 units of Vitamin D. After getting sick my friend told me to get some liquid multivitamin in my system and try to overload on minerals. One last thing: I sucked on salt tabs during the race to help prevent cramping.
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And finally, I must reemphasize, DO NOT TRY A NEW DRINK, FOOD, OR SUPPLEMENT ON RACE DAY!
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Strategy:
 “Run your own race.”  Wow, was this harder than it sounds! My first level goal was to finish, second level was to finish in under 4 hours, my third level was not to stop and walk. Check, check and check! But, once I settled in and realized I was running well, I got a little over confident and it almost threw me off my own pace.
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Call it the competitor in me but when I saw someone ahead of me in the distance, I would set up to pass them. This was a great mental boost for me the first 10 miles. By the second 10 I seemed to be the one getting passed. And by  the final six miles, I was getting passed left and right by guys, gals, young, and old. I cramped up on mile 22 and 24 so bad I thought I was going to have to walk. Fortunately I was able to shuffle the steps out and keep going. These unpredictable variables, largely coming from within my own response to the race, are things that I couldn’t possibly have known until race-day. Through this, I learned that running your own race is something that comes with experience.
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Companions:  
A part of me thrives on emotion, and with each person I saw on the run it gave me a rejuvenated step. First up was the Wagners right around mile 10. Josh, his wife, and two kids were set up to the left of a water station and I locked eyes with them instantly. I had to run over and give them all a high five. Not a great idea if you’re trying to set a personal record but what the heck; it was an awesome feeling to see some friends I haven’t seen in a while.
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At mile 12 was the first food drop. Elizabeth Z. came out of nowhere (which was actually a bus stop) and handed me my first meal. Short but sweet, it was enough to keep going. Because I listen to music and take notes on my long runs I actually called a friend who lives in Arcadia to see if he was home. No answer so I left a short voice mail and I was off. Mile 13, Steve C. threw his hands in the air and I turned to give him a big shoulder bump witch actually hurt more than anything in the race up until that point becuase I had to switch directions and move laterally. Not very smart, but once again the surprise scenery was awesome to have and it lit my fire for a few more miles.
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At mile 16, my buddy Noah R. called me. And let me just tell you, when someone calls and asks “What are you doing?” and your answer is, “I’m running a Marathon,” it has got to be the coolest answer ever. I kept it short and pressed on. Running through Old Town Scottsdale at mile 18 was fun: a new energy and alot of scenery. Between the runners and friends and families supporting all of us, Old Town was slamming.
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Next drop was Chris Canon and his lovely wife right at the switchback before heading back down to Tempe. Sean and I ran across from each other and a few minutes later I passed Kelley who was flying and deep in the ZONE.
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Then I hit mile 20 and I thought I was home sweet home… Not quite! These were by far the hardest, slowest most painful miles ever, but I also knew it would soon be over. I planned to have my wife and kids meet me at mile 22 and give me some loving to get through the last few miles. A quick kiss and hug, they handed me my fuel and I was set. Mile 23-25 were a blur. I remember cramping up, running up a hill and wondering “Where the HELL is the finish line?!”
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When I hit the home stretch I remembered what my client and freind Marc Lutz had said to me in years past. “Why run a marathon if you’re going to stop before you reach the finish line?” These were words of wisdom have inspired my life in so many ways and gave me the mental boost I needed for a strong finish. I sprinted the final 400 meter,s gaining more and more energy from the crowd until I crossed the finish line. There, I found my kids Kanon and Camille, my biggest inspiration in life, waiting for me. They were more excited than I was! We hugged as I looked for my teammates and had my medal placed around my neck. It was as surreal as surreal can be.
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Thankful:  I want to thank each and every volunteer who took a day out of their life to help runners like myself accomplish our goals. A big shout out to all of the fans — most of whom I have never met — who clapped, cheered, and smiled for us. A special thanks to the personal friends of mine who stood by on a Sunday handing out liquid food: Chris, Elizabeth, Bill, Jeff, and my wife, Najla. Last but not least I want to give a huge hug to my Coach, Sean Nugent, for taking the bull by the horns and riding its ass into the ground. Your creation, commitment, leadership, and balls are what makes you an amazing coach. Thank you for making me a runner and introducing me to the SPORT of Endurance.
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If your interested in running your first race — either a 5k, half marathon or full —  SICFIT Scottsdale has the coaching, programming, and education to give you the right prescription to help you achieve your personal goals.
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Congratulations to all the runners from SICFIT Scottsdale who ran their own race. What do you guys want to accomplish next?
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26.2 miles
Bob Vossoughi  3:27:05
Kelly Villa 4:10:43
Luke Kayyem 3:53:50
Mark Disalvo 4:20:36
Sean Nugent 4:20:10
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13.1 miles
Dustin Anderson 1:59:27
Jeff Ciraulo 2:04:03
Justin Kimball 1:55:11
Marc Lutz 2:18:25
Valerie Raja 2:24:36
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Back to Basics

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Strength in Conditioning for Tuesday, January 28, 2014

As Students of Strength in Conditioning FITness, we never graduate from the basics. We are always willing to pick up the PVC pipe and drill form, mechanics, and alignment. We embrace  the philosophy that there is always more to learn. On Saturday, February 8th, SICFIT Scottsdale is hosting the perfect seminar for those looking to refine their technique and create the foundation that will sustain a lifetime of fitness. It’s only when we go back to the basics and build ourselves back up with even more precision that we enable growth and new possibilities. Reserve your spot today!

FundamentalsSeminar

WARMUP
500 Meter Row
Movement prep for wall balls and pull ups
SKILL
Gymnastics rings tuck + hollow + l-sit + kipping pull up progression
CONDITIONING
500 Meter row + 10 wall balls + 10 pull ups
500 Meter row + 20 wall balls + 10 pull ups
500 Meter row + 30 wall balls + 10 pull ups
LIFE: Ball slams #14/10 | ring row or bands
FITNESS: Wall ball #20/14
SPORT: Wall ball #30 | chest to bar or strict
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New Level 1 Athletes

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Strength in Conditioning for Monday, January 27, 2014

You may notice a few more wrists decked out with white bands in your classes at SICFIT Scottsdale, because we had a whole slew of hardworking and determined  individuals throw down for the title of Level 1 athlete this past Thursday! Congratulations to all of you who have earned this great achievement. But the time now is not to rest, but rather to set sights on a new goals… the Level 2 band!
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WARMUP
3 Rounds
1 Minute lunge + air squat + scissor kick + run a small lap
STRENGTH
20 Rep back squat
Dumbbell superset: 10  bicep curl + latteral raise + hammer curl + front raise + strict press
3 Minute rest
15 Rep back squat
Dumbbell superset
3 Minute rest
10 Rep back squat
Dumbbell superset
3 Minute rest
5 Rep back squat
Dumbbell superset
CONDITIONING
Jump rope
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Level I Test Complete at SICFIT Scottsdale

The very first Level test we created at SICFIT back in 2007 was solely for the purpose of giving a few of our members a training goal other than loosing a few pounds or running a mile. It’s a physical fitness proficiency test that shows how well our programming is working and where we need to identify which areas of FITness we need to focus on. It gives coaches and ambassadors a chance to call good or bad reps and more than anything it grows our FITness community by bringing us all together under one roof for a common goal. Last Thursday we watched 10 students come test their FITness and see if they have what it takes to pass the Level I test. Here are the numbers….. 8 out of 10 passed, 7 out of 8 were women. Only one person completed the 15x double unders and everyone passed the 400 run. So that tells me we’ve been running a lot more than jumping rope a standard that shifts as the weather gets hotter and we are forced to stay inside more.

I want to thank all of our judges who came out to show their support and give these guys some inspiration to just “GO FOR IT”. Without struggle their is no progress. Congratulations ladies and gentlemen you have now earned your right to attend FITness classes and wear your new SICFIT Scottsdale white band with pride. Next month we invite you to come down and witness the Level II (Orange band) on Thursday, February 27th at 7:00pm. As a reminder all level testing at SICFIT gyms is always FREE as an active member of our FITness community. All we ask is to come back and cheer, judge, watch or just be present at a future testing event.

Level I Test at SICFIT Scottsdale

1. Push Ups: 40M 40W (knees ok) consecutive
2. Sit Ups: 65 in 2 min
3. Squats: 80 in 2 min
4. Burpees: 20 in 1 min
5. Hand Stand Hold (70 sec)
6. Thrusters: x15 consecutive 75#M 55#W
7. Wall Balls: x15  consecutive 20# M 14# W
8. Push Press: x15 consecutive 75#M 55#W
9. Jump Rope: 500 in a row or 15 double unders
10. Box Jump: x20 at 20″ consecutive jumps
11. 400M Run: under 1:45M 1:55W
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Free Saturday Class Next Week

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Strength in Conditioning for Saturday, January 25, 2014

The first month of 2014 is nearing it’s close, and we all know that its only going to more and more difficult to keep those New Years Resolutions going strong. If you know someone who made the commitment to lose weight, tone up, and get healthy this year, encourage them to come to one of SICFIT Scottsdale’s Free Saturday Classes on February 1st! Share this blog post on their Facebook page, send them an e-mail, give them a call or text — or even just drag them to the gym with you next week! Please direct your friends and family to RSVP at 480.922.3253 or email info@sicfitscottsdale.com. (If going with the ‘drag-to-gym’ option, please RSVP for your guest!)
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WARMUP
Dynamic movement
10, 9, 8…….1 Deadlift + press + backsquat | PVC or barbell
5 Minute walking rest
CONDITIONING A
3 Sets at 100%
10 Unbroken thrusters
20 Second rest
20 Second row sprint AFAP
3 Minute rest
LIFE: barbell
FITNESS: 95/65
SPORT: 135/95
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Weekend Family Fitness Fun!

 

Strength in Conditioning for Friday, January 24, 2014

Looking for some fitness family fun this weekend? SICFIT Scottsdale’s ‘Run for Kids’ is just what you were looking for! Pack up the kids and their friends and enjoy the festivities at Scottsdale Stadium — including the Kid’s Run and entry to the Molina Fine Jewelers Celebrity Baseball Game. The event will benefit the Arizona Baseball Charities, an organization dedicated to helping the children of Arizona reach their full potential through sports! For more information, click here!

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WARMUP
2 Minutes run + 2 minutes row + 2 minutes airdyne
10 lunges + 10 mountain climber + 10 inch worm after each round
SKILL
Rope climb/rope squat
Stones/heavy med balls
CONDITIONING
3 Rounds | 12 Minute cap
50 Sit ups
50 Double unders (150 singles)
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Level Testing and Competitive Fitness

 

Strength in Conditioning for Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tonight is the night that our hardworking SICFIT athletes will put their training to the test in hopes of earning the L1 White Band! Come out tonight at 7pm and workout for your right of wearing your FITness of your sleeve! Whether you plan to test or not, we need your support at the gym to cheer on the folk with their eyes dead set on that band!

WARMUP
Barbell clean progression
Thee position power clean
STRENGTH
15 Minutes to establish tough but not maximal power clean
5 Minute rest
CONDITIONING
SICEST of the Southwest Workout II
LIFE: 35-75
FITNESS: 55-95
SPORT: Men 165/145/125 | Women 115/95/75
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If this workout got you pumped and feeling froggy to compete, then its time for you to register for the competition of a lifetime: SICEST of the Pacific West! Compete in paradise while repping for the SICEST gym in the Southwest.. SICFIT Scottsdale! For more information, click here!
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Fundamentals Seminar at SICFIT Scottsdale

FundamentalsSeminar

Technique and Form are both very important in your workout routine at SICFIT Scottsdale. Whether you have been around for a while or are brand new to SICFIT they both can probably use some work. The SICFIT Scottsdale Fundamentals Seminar is designed to help your training and learn the 9 Foundational Movements  so you can perform them safely, efficiently, and effectively. The 9 movements include the: air squat, front squat, overhead squat, shoulder press, push press, push jerk, deadlift, sumo deadlift high pull and the med ball clean.

Learning these movements and incorporating them into your fitness training will optimize your physical competence in each of the ten recognized fitness domains, which are: Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.

Don’t wait…Get signed up for the Fundamentals Seminar at SICFIT Scottsdale today! You deserve to take the time to improve yourself and to work towards achieving elite fitness. Sign up at the gym or email info@sicfitscottsdale.com

A Pain in the Neck Stretch

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Strength in Conditioning for Wednesday, January 22, 2014

This week’s Stretch of the Week, brought to you by FlexibilityRX, targets the Levator Scapula. This relatively small, yet important muscle runs along the side of the neck and onto the shoulder. It connects the cervical spine (the section of our spine located in the neck) and the upper border of the scapula (the shoulder blade). This muscle can be the source of commonly experienced neck and back pain, and in some cases even headaches. The Levator Scapular can become tight and strained from stress, poor neck posture, and imbalances created from lack of stretching. Perform this stretch every day this week and see if you notice a difference in any neck, back, or head discomfort. You may even experience relief from pain you didn’t know you were suffering from!

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WARMUP
Run 300 meters
3 Rounds
10 Push up + 10 air squat + 10 sit up
Walk big lap
CONDITIONING A
5 Rounds
Ring row 25 seconds | 35 seconds rest
Ring push up 25 seconds | 35 seconds rest
Ring tucks/knees up/l-sit 20 seconds | 40 seconds rest
5 Minute rest
CONDITIONING B
12 Minutes
Row sprint 25 seconds | easy row 35 seconds
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A Race to Remember

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Meet Bill Dittman- a rockstar athlete with a passion for running. Bill just recently ran a race of a lifetime and wrote about his experiences. Bill we are so proud of you! Read all about his journey below:

I have been asked by a few people to detail my race, so I will try to recollect what I can from the experience. Let me start by saying thank you to everybody for the birthday wishes and good lucks on the race. I definitely tapped in to the good vibes everybody was sending me to help get me through the race. What a humbling day.

Pre-Race: I started getting sick two days prior to race day. The night prior to the race was the worst of it. I couldn’t keep down any food. I went to bed with a  lot of doubt and questions, and next to nothing in my stomach. But, I set my alarm for 4:30, and decided I could make a decision in the morning. I woke up, didn’t feel great, but felt better than I had the night prior. I had some toast with almond butter, and a banana. I got my stuff together, and was out the door by 5:30. About 5:45, I pulled over, and had to throw up. But, I was already on my way. I had made up my mind that the show must go on. I got there around 6:30. Did my gear check, and got to the start line. This would be a three loop race, roughly 10.5 miles a loop. We would run the loops clockwise, then counterclockwise, then clockwise.
Start: The race began at 7:00. It was still dark. Sunrise wouldn’t come for another half hour. It was a pretty cold morning (I’m sure my Wisconsin people are getting a good laugh out of that statement). I waited until the last minute to peel off my warm clothes. I didn’t want to have to shed layers once I got out there. So, here goes nothing.
Miles 1-5: Dark, calm wilderness. Beautiful trail. Rolling hills. I do a lot of my training runs on the trails prior to sunrise or post sunset, so I felt right at home. My pace was good. I could feel my sickness fading away. My stomach felt fine. I knew I was in for a long day, so I didn’t get overconfident. I kept my pace right in my comfort zone. A few steep ups, and a few steep downs. Never flat.
Miles 5-9: I found a group of 3 other runners. We were all cruising at about the same pace. Sun rose, it was a really nice morning. I started to feel like despite all of the questions, today was going to be a really good day. Still, not running out of my comfort zone. It’s a long day. More steep ups and downs. Still not finding much flat terrain.
Miles 9-10.5: This is the big mountain pass  of the loop. You start in a wash at the base of the mountain, and climb to a saddle near the peak. A little less than a mile to get to the top of the mountain (roughly 600-700 vertical feet), about the same distance to descend on the other side, and then a half mile of rolling hills to complete the first loop. The ascent was grueling, and almost all loose rocks, so getting good footing was at a premium. The descent was fast, but not too fast. I went just fast enough to where I still felt in control. Almost at the bottom of the descent, I felt a slight “twinge” in my calf. I was at the 9.5 mile mark, so it couldn’t be a cramp. I have never cramped that quickly before, so I figured I probably just had a misstep that led to it. No problem, I continued on. At the 10 mile mark, my calf full on cramped. I was confused. I brought my pace way down, let my calf loosen out of the cramp, and coasted in to the aid station at the end of the loop. One minute ahead of my target time.
Miles 10.5-12: Now we turn around and come back the way we came. I jogged out the 0.5 miles of rolling hills to begin, and my right calf cramped up again. Not a feeling you want to have when running towards the mountain you have to climb over. Don’t worry about it. I will power hike the really steep parts of the ascent, and descend slower than I did the last time. I had taken some salt pills and other fuel at the aid station, and I started to feel a little relief from the cramps. But, the ascent/descent were brutal on my already cramping legs. I started to realize I might be in for a long day. I was pounding fluids, but throwing up the last two days had left me depleted and dehydrated.
Miles 12-18: I really tried to quiet all of the things racing through my head. How would this affect my time goal? What could I do to turn things around? Drink even more than I was? Eat more? If I did, would I throw up? Another salt pill? Was I in jeopardy of a DNF? Why did I have to get sick days prior to a race I had trained so diligently for? Why did I even decide to try and do this given how I felt? I put in my earbuds, listened to some calming music, and tried to enter a meditative state. It worked, somewhat. My pace was way down, and I was power hiking the steep ups. I didn’t have it in my legs to do any more than that. I didn’t make it a full mile at any point the rest of the race without having to slow to a walk to recover from a cramping leg. It was my calves, it was my quads, and it was a combination. I would cramp in a left calf, start compensating, and then seize up my right quad. But, I was toughing it out. I just forced my legs to continue.
Miles 18-21: Not good. I knew I was coming up on the end of the second loop, where there was an aid station. Some would see the completion of a loop and an aid station as a saving grace. I saw it as an upcoming tough decision I had to make. I slowed my pace further, hoping I could play a mind game. Maybe, if I got to the aid station feeling just a little bit better than I had the entire second loop, I could convince myself to go back out for a round 3. I shuffled in to the aid station.
I knew if I had any hope of completing this race, I would have to take a little recovery time at this aid station. A volunteer and his son grabbed my water bottles right away without me even having to ask, and filled me up with sports drink. They were great. Very supportive. While waiting for them to fill my bottles, my legs cramped again. I could barely stand. I was snacking on some of the stuff at the aid station. They gave me my bottles. I decided my day was done. I asked myself how I was going to go for a third loop, including another mountain pass, given that I was struggling to stand up at an aid station. I didn’t have an answer to that question. I was really hungry though, so I departed the aid station with a few cookies and a handful of peanut M&M’s. My friends Nic and Wes came to cheer me on, and saw me walking out of the aid station. Nic came over by me and asked how I was doing. He didn’t know I had been sick, didn’t know I was deciding on dropping out. I told him I felt like shit, and I couldn’t stop cramping. His advice was simple. “You got this, just jam it out”. I had a moment of clarity. I mean honestly, I was a fool not to think my back would be up against the wall at some point in this race, given the conditions. I realized if I did anything but start immediately out on the third loop, my day was done. I began jogging out to start my third loop.
Mile 21-21.5: After departing with Nic, I slowed back to a walk. I still had those cookies and M&M’s in my hands. I usually can eat and jog, but its not nearly as appetizing. I’d enjoy this little treat, and get back at it.
Miles 21.5-25: Painful. I was really frustrated, and my mental state really began to deteriorate. Run/walk/run/walk. I hit a steep hill. Hobbled up the ascent, and had to stop at the top. Both calves and quads had locked up on the way up, and I didn’t think I could descend safely with stiff legs.
Mile 25: My lowest point of the race. I saw my target time goal come and go on my watch. My time goal had passed, and I was still 7 miles from the finish line. I wasn’t close enough to feel like I was almost there. I was embarrassed, upset, and frustrated. I had pounded all of my sports drink at the top while trying to loosen up my legs. I was out of fluids. It was getting pretty hot in the sun.
Mile 26: I saw an aid station in the distance. I was looking for any kind of a silver lining at this point, and man did I get one. I hobbled up to the aid station, and threw my hands up in the air. The volunteer was probably a little confused, but played right along, clapping and cheering me on. I really needed a break, so I decided to take one here. This lady was a real gem. I’m sure she could see I was distraught. She grabbed a spray bottle, came over by me, and began walking circles around me spraying me down with cold water. Arms, legs, face, neck. She grabbed my bottles, and filled me back up. We talked (I don’t exactly remember about what), but I remember it helped take my mind off my situation. She joked that she knew of a shortcut to the finish line, which she could probably be bribed into telling me about. She got me laughing. She then said I looked hungry, and offered me (of all things) a piece of pumpkin pie. Yes, pumpkin pie. It wasn’t part of the original fueling plan, but going according to the “plan” had been thrown out the window long before. So, I was definitely going to accept a piece of pumpkin pie. I thanked her for the help, left the aid station with my piece of pie, and continued on my way. She probably doesn’t know it, and I wish I had told her, but she made my day. I definitely should have told her.
Miles 26-29.5: Run/walk/Run/Walk.
Miles 29.5-32: I have the steep ascent/descent mountain pass once more, then a few rolling hills, and I am home free.
Finish: I finished. Pretty much a full hour later than my time goal. I guess my birthday present was an extra hour of fun. I sat down, said a little prayer, and broke down. I was physically and mentally exhausted. Big props to Aravaipa Running, everything about the event was great. Their motto is “Run Steep, Get High”. More like “Figure out a way to move forward Steep, Get Through”.
Post Race Thoughts: I hope I didn’t sound overdramatic in my race report. I tried to recollect it as accurately as possible based upon how I was feeling at that particular point. I am excited to take a little down time, recover, and start looking forward to my next endeavor. In retrospect, I’m glad everything happened the way it did. I learned a lot. I need to become stronger mentally, and stop getting so caught up on “the plan”. I don’t know yet what I am capable of, but I want to figure that out. And, the process of figuring it out is quite the ride. I’m happy, but I’m not satisfied.
Soundtrack to my race: This Will Destroy You and Tycho
Most notably: “The Mighty Rio Grande” by This Will Destroy You and “Awake” by Tycho
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