The Marathon Box is Checked:Sheepleg's Blog. The Muttering Mutton
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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Marathon Box is Checked

Hello all,

It is The Shepherd here with an exciting post for you.  I figure since it has been forever since my last one, I should make it something good.  After training for the last 3-4 months, I completed my first marathon this past weekend.

I will say all in all it was quite an experience that I won't forget.  It was harder than I expected, mostly in ways that I did not expect it to be.  Oddly enough, the hardest part has been the recovery; but I'll spare you those details.

My partner and I were fairly ready for training.  We had done the Tough Mudder a few months earlier and had kept our miles up from training for that event.  We started our official training at the beginning of the new year.  

Training for the marathon this year was in many ways easier than last year when we were training for the Derby Mini.  We had many more injuries to battle through last year than this one.  Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of niggles to work through this time as well, but nothing like last year when I was sidelined for a bit with some nasty foot pain.

There were some bad runs for each of us.  One of my worst ones was an 8 miler that I didn't think I was going to finish because my shin muscle was so tight.  I worked through it with some stretching and focusing on keeping my feet relaxed on the backswing.

Jimmy had a bad run towards the end as we were tapering on a 12 miler where his knee was bothering him pretty bad.  This was a bad time, since it was so close to the end and messed with his head more than his body.  But he rested up, got out the good old sports tape, and was as good as new.

So after months of training and goodness knows how many amended fuel plans, we were ready to go.  We spent the night in a hotel the night before the race just a few blocks from the starting line. After waking up at 3:30 am to eat / drink our shakes (much to dismay of the girls) and again at 5:30 am to get ready, we headed out.

We got to the starting area, found our starting gate (sort of), and got in line.  I say sort of because we were supposed to be in corral D, but couldn't get that far because of all the people.  So we jumped in somewhere around corral C.  This ended up being for the best anyway because we ended up still passing many more people than we were passed by.  It certainly minimized the zigging and zagging we had to do. 

The sea of humanity aside, we were still able to spot our cheerleaders and give them a wave as we ran by at the start.  Notice we were so fast it is blurry...either that or somebody forgot to bring their camera (inside joke).

The first 6 miles or so were nice.  The crowd, assorted dj stands, and initial adrenaline are always enough to get you through the first part of the race.  After mile 6, my bowels that had mysteriously been locked up in the hotel decided they were ready to be evacuated.  Anyone who knows me knows that this is not out of the ordinary for me.  My bowels have a history of acting up at the right time, wrong time...come to think of it, pretty much anytime.  So we spent the next several miles looking for a nice place to take care of business.  Side note about the race.  It is always well planned and executed but if I were to have one request, it would be to have more facilities along the way.

After missing out on going as we passed through Churchill Downs (not a stitch of paper in any of the stalls or hand towel machines) we finally found a cozy green hut to lighten the load.

Funny story about this port a potty picture.  I did a google search for it and found another runners blog featuring this picture.  So as a shout out to her, here is her post.  Not exactly the same issue as I had, but small world nonetheless. 

Ok, so now I'm light on my feet again and Jimmy has had time to limber up.  We are back on the trail and hit "the hill".  It wasn't that we were not prepared for it.  We had been staring at it on our race map for months.  One hundred and twenty feet up in less than 2 miles.  Now to many standards, that is probably not that much, but to us it seemed like a mountain.  I even made a special playlist for it.  So we plugged in and headed up.  Oddly enough the major uphill was not so bad.  There was a nasty little rise at the end of the downhill that caught us both off guard.  I think this was the beginning of what was to come later.  By my estimation it was mile 15 or so.  We unplugged and kept right on trucking.

At mile 18 Jimmy started having a little more knee and quad trouble so we slowed a bit to make sure we didn't burn out.  At this point we were still several minutes ahead of our goal time so it was no big deal. 

As the miles piled on over 20 (which was also our longest training run distance), the fact this was a marathon and we were going to be in for some pain started to settle in.  I remember my quads both cramping around mile 22 on an uphill portion and thinking this was really going to be tricky.  We were losing time, but worse yet, we were losing gusto.

Every water station was a welcome site if not for the water, but simply just knowing we made it to one more checkpoint between mile markers.  And for the simple fact they also were giving out gels at some of them.  I had burned through the 7 GU's I packed on my waist belt and picked up a gel and a bottle of water from the last water station.  Bottles of water are GENIUS at that point in the race because you can really control the water and keep it with you without spilling for long periods of time.  It is certainly better than the cups of water at that point.

At mile 23 or 24 neither of us were talking much any longer and decided to just go ahead and plug back in for the push to the finish.  We finished just as we had trained for months.  Together.

We missed our goal time of 4 hours by just over a minute.  I blame that on the tunnels under Churchill Downs where you lose reception on your watch.  My pace actually read under where we needed to be, but who cares.  After 4 hours of running, I am happy to have survived.

A big shout out to my oldest sister for completing the marathon as well.  I know she trained hard and was pretty nervous about it but she completed it and seemed like she was in great spirits at the end.

Also a shout out to my brother in law (different sister) for finishing the mini in under 2 hours.  He was at home with his feet up by the time we got done.

Now that box is checked, I had planned on starting on training for triathlon.  What do you think?

The Shepherd


  1. For the record, I did NOT "forget" my camera. Sooooooomebody told me to leave it. SO there. ;) And I totally just googled the word "niggles"......

  2. I picked it up in "A Life Without Limits" by Chrissie Wellington. Been waiting for a good time to use it. Now it is your turn to pass it on.