Saturday, February 2, 2013

On January 27th, 2013, I completed my 2nd marathon at the ING Miami Marathon.  I trained for 16 weeks and I went in there with a very aggressive goal of completing 26.2 miles in less than 4 hours.  In this post and in part 2 that I will publish in the near future, I am going to share the mistakes and the lessons I learned while I prepared for the race and my race day experience to help prepare you for a future race and hopefully you might be able to avoid some of these same hiccups.

For those that didn't know I completed my first marathon about 1.5 years ago and it went almost as good as it could have for a former 355 lb. guy who had no idea what he was getting himself into.  Why did I even decide to run a marathon?  I was bored with 5Ks and one day someone told me that a former obese guy cannot finish a marathon, so I took on the challenge.  After some research, I decided that my first one was going to be the Wisconsin Marathon which was only a short 1.5 hrs. drive from my house and was one of the reasons why I picked that one.  It was small, low price and not many entrants were expected, which is exactly what I wanted since my daily runs are by myself.  I stayed at a hotel the night before, my wife and son drove up the morning of, which made it easy for me and the family to attend the event.  It was a pretty flat course and organized very well, but in my opinion the only negative is that they had too few water stations.  I ended up completing it in 4 hours and 11 minutes.  I walked a lot of the last 6 miles, but the overall pace still ended up being 9:36 and I could not of asked for anything more. With that better than expected outcome, I had told myself for a while that I was done with marathons.  However, one morning this past summer I woke up and I realized that marathon book was not closed yet.  I wanted to complete another one and attempt the 4 hour limit that I knew was not going to be easy.

In early November of this year, my brother invited me to come down and run the ING Miami marathon with him and he would pay the entry fee and that my Mom had agreed she would pay the airfare as my Christmas gift.  After discussing it with my wife for a while, we decided to take up the offer and this was going to be my next marathon but my wife and son were going to stay at home (my only fans at my first marathon).  Luckily I was already running pretty good distances so getting into the middle of a marathon training schedule was not going to be difficult.

Overall, training went pretty well.  I was fortunate enough that I did not miss one training day at all during the 16 weeks and because of my goal and my motivation was high. There were times I had to adjust my schedule, but all my expected miles were run every week.  I was grumpy some days because the training does take a lot out of you, but my family and I got through it.  I felt I was extremely prepared for the marathon and possibly breaking the 4 hour mark.  My confidence grew incredibly once I met an elite runner and coach (2.19 marathoner) on Facebook by the name of Nathan Pennington of Run Dream Achieve.  Nate (who has become a great friend) truly believes that if you believe it and put in the work, you can make any running dream come true.  He doesn't care what kind of running experience you have, he will motivate you so you 100% believe in yourself. It was exactly what I needed going into a race that required me to have an average mile pace of 9:09 for 26.2 miles.  (26 freaking miles at that speed and weighing 200 lbs...What was I thinking???)

The only bad event that happened before I left for my trip was I was in a pretty bad car accident on January 17th.  Luckily, no major injury and the only side effect was a sore neck for about 3 days.  However, on the Monday after the accident and the week of my trip, I started feeling my ears being clogged up.  I assumed this was just a small result of the accident, but I found out on February 1st (almost a week after the race) that I had a bad sinus infection.  (Lesson learned, call doctor sooner.)

On Thursday night, January 24th I traveled by plane to Miami and stayed at my brother's place.  I wanted to get there early enough to get accustomed to the weather and enjoy it.  My brother and I ran 2 easy miles on Friday and I realized this heat was going to be a challenge come race day.  However, I was looking forward to running the marathon with my brother and I knew I had done everything possible to set me up to reach my ultimate four hour marathon goal.

Now I will summarize some of the small or big mistakes I made before race day morning.  As in life, the more you do, the more experience you will get and learn from.  Next week, I will give a recap of the race; let you know if I met my goal and what I learned during the race day journey.  For the people who already know the outcome, I will let you in on what occurred during the race to produce the result.

Pre-Race Mistakes:
- Training in Chicago, racing in Miami.  Very simple here...Too hard to prepare yourself for the environment you will be facing in hot weather when you are running most of your runs on a treadmill due to cold outside temps.  We even had a mile winter, but 30 degrees in Chicago is nothing compared to 70 in sunny Miami.  I am not saying it is impossible, just saying it makes the situation a bit more difficult.

- Know for sure what shoes you will be wearing for race day.  Probably #1 rule in running, but I broke it.  About 2 months out, I thought I knew which pair I was going with but as I did a few long runs, they never felt 100% right, so I went with another pair for the marathon that I was running during the last 6 weeks of the training.  They just never felt totally comfortable during those weeks and definitely not in the race.

- Know Your Pre-race Meal.  This is where I still need to figure out what I will be doing on the night before races.  I no longer eat pasta and I barely eat bread because they both make me feel bloated.  I did eat vegetables, fruit and a bit of bread for lunch some protein and bread items for dinner the day/night before the race.  However, the question is that enough to power me through 26.2 miles and at the speed I want.

- Visiting expo the day before the race.  The ING Miami Marathon Expo was the best one I had ever been to.  So many vendors were there and so many items were for sale.  It was so good that my brother and I stayed too long and we left exhausted.  What we should have done is gone on Friday and visited all the booths that day and then only return to listen to the speakers (while sitting) on Saturday.  Another lesson learned.

By: Fred Lechuga


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