It was about a year ago this month that I was out running 20 miles at a time. I was running close to 45 miles per week, and I had increased my distance over the course of a few months. It was January of 2017 when I decided I was going to get back into shape. I weighed around 195 at the time, but it was much more than my usual 180. I know some people would kill to be 195, but for me, I felt sluggish, lazy, and unmotivated.
That's when I decided to start stomping the pavement starting with a couple miles. I decided to return again to the gym where I was wasting a monthly membership at, and I changed up my eating habits. Within a month I had already lost 10 pounds and my 3-mile run turned into 7, then 10, then eventually 20 by April. I was in the best shape of my life. I would run 6:15-minute miles and felt unstoppable.
The Cleveland Marathon was coming up, and it had always been on my goal list to run a marathon. My running mileage was at a point where adding an additional 6.2 miles to a run was no problem. During the end of some of my 20-mile runs, I felt so great that I had to keep myself from continuing running. I was less than a month out from the date of the Cleveland Marathon when I decided to pull the trigger.
I was so anxious and full of excitement as I registered for my first ever marathon. I had done a handful of half-marathon races in the past, but there was something about 26.2 that felt special, and it was another lifetime goal of mine to complete.
With my registration completed, my mind began to focus in on the race. The previous months I had spent running whenever I felt like it, for whatever distances I felt comfortable with. I was just having fun. However, I'm a very competitive person, and now that I had signed up for my first full-marathon I wanted to get the best time possible. I took to the internet to research pace charts to determine what pace I would need to average in order to achieve my time goal.
I made the decision that it would be epic to run a 3:00-hour marathon. That would require me to run an average 6:54min/mile pace for all 26.2 miles, and would have also made me qualify for the Boston Marathon at my FIRST marathon! It would have been such an incredible story to tell how I qualified for Boston running my first ever marathon.
With new found motivation and an increased focus, I became more strict with my training. I started running on a regular schedule, something I had been lacking, and at times it was painful not running the miles I wanted to run and losing my flexibility with my run schedule. However, I kept to it and started adding different types of workouts into my routine. Some days I would do speed intervals, where others I would cross-train.
Everything was going fine until I went out for a 10 mile run one Saturday. It was part of the process of tapering down the miles I was running during the weeks leading up to the marathon, so I was running much less than what I'd typically go out for. I was 6 miles in when I started to feel a stinging sensation on the left side of my leg. The further I went, the more it started bothering me. Every time my left leg struck the pavement my leg felt completely weak and tingly. Immediately I was pissed off. Of course, this would happen! I had just signed up for my first marathon two days ago, and now an injury!
I hobbled my way home, and immediately called my brother who was just finishing up PT school. He advised that I was having IT band issues, or if you want to be technical about it; Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). ITBS is one of the most common injuries that plague runners, and of course, it would happen to me nearly two weeks out from the race.
My brother, Tyler, told me to do hip exercises, and apply heat/ice. I took close to a week off from running, and instead focused on healing for the race. At this point, I had squashed the goal of hitting a 3-hour marathon in my mind. All I wanted to do was finish the damn thing!
Race day came a couple weeks later, and I had been able to go out on a few 4-5 mile runs without my IT giving me any issues. It was a perfect May morning in Cleveland, and my adrenaline was in full effect. The gun fired, and I was off. I kept a 7:30 pace for the first 7 miles but soon started getting fatigued. My IT band was feeling fine, and I was still able to keep a consistent pace. I was a half-mile away from the part of the course where it splits off into the full and the half course.
10.5 miles into the run, and there it was. That annoying IT pain. It was unforgiving too. I was barely able to put any pressure on my left leg. Fortunately, at the course split, there was a medical tent where I was able to get some Ibuprofen that helped bare the pain as I jogged to the finish line. I can't even explain the emotion I felt as I realized what just happened. I had spent months building up to this moment to get one big DNF (Did not finish) next to my name in the results. One moment I wanted to cry, and then next I was absolutely pissed yelling "Fuck!" every step I took back.
As I drove back home I started to calm down. Yes, I was extremely disappointed, but I now felt more motivated than ever to get a marathon under my belt. I now have my sights on another marathon, and my goal is to run either the Columbus or Akron full-marathon this fall. It might sound crazy, but I'm not going to do any set weekly schedule to train. I will work on a plan to build up my mileage at a healthy pace, but I'm further out than a typical 16-week training program, and I want to start ramping up my mileage now.
I want to share my progress with you, and if you're a fellow runner I'd love to hear from you! Drop me a comment below, and let me know!