15 Miles, and Cursing out Loud (A Running Update)

 August 26th 2010

As I hit T-minus 30 days until my goal date, I find myself still eagerly lacing up my shoes each day, and crossing another square off my marathon training chart. Despite the joy of hitting my Excel running spreadsheets after each run, I have, over the last few weeks, stumbled into a huge issue in my training that has set me back both physically and psychologically, so I thought it best to use this blog post to not only provide an update on my training, but to do a bit of venting.

To back up a bit, running is a new passion of mine. In early spring of 2009, as a result of an unexpected trip to Boston during marathon weekend, I decided I was going to give up the couch and become a runner. A few days later, I decided that my goal was to complete a marathon by the age of 40. Well, 40 is here…and I am slowly heading towards that goal.

With advice from an old friend, I discovered the C25K program. This program was basically a scheduled approach to developing the ability to run 30 minutes in a pop starting off with small bouts of running and walking. After 9 weeks, the thirty minute threshold was met.

(On a side note: I encourage everyone to check out this program as it truly is life changing: http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml)

Over the last year and a half, I have lost a current total of 53 pounds (257lbs to 204), and cut 10 minutes off my 5K time (39:00min to <27:00min).

In addition to eating better, and having a great spring to my step, I feel like I have shed 20 years. I kick myself for not discovering this passion sooner. Not only has running become my daily escape, it has also become a daily moment of devotion and communion with God. Very Mystic Christian of me.

This Saturday, I will be running in the Run, Walk & Roll 5k in Keene, and plan on praying the whole way. I am confident I will break the top 50 finishers, and will celebrate my first, successful 5k.

Oh,…in the spirit of full disclosure…there are only 40 people signed up to run…(thus the top 50 estimate). The run benefits my neighbor Kelley Goddu, who is working incredibly hard to overcome a paralyzing back injury.

(see http://Kelleyscause.com)

All this said, the cause of my recent struggle, challenge, and headache has been a headache of unparalleled proportions: THE WALL.

Currently, my weekly training schedule consists of 4, 6mile runs, and one long run of Half Marathon or greater distance per week. With this spike in mileage, and consistently walking the fine line of overtraining, I have had a heartbreaking introduction to the wall. With each long run, I find myself facing this yet to be overcome wall right at 15 miles.

At 15 miles, I turn into my 18 month old niece. Stagger, stumble, stagger and stumble. I forget how my knees, legs, and breathing works. With each additional meter, I have to remind my muscles to fire, my feet to plant, and my lungs to exhale. Within minutes, I find myself stopped and cursing heavily.

In hopes of breaking through, I have experimented with supplementation (protein, vitamins, etc), S-Caps (sodium pills to prevent the cramping that comes with excessive sweating), mid run refueling (Gels, Powerbeans, and even PB&J’s), and even pre and during run energy drinks (JACK3D, NOS, RedBulls, and even Dunkin Donuts).


I have employed tempo and hill runs. The wall is still there. I have tried Yasso 800’s and Fartleks. The wall is still there. I have tried slower runs, faster runs, and even barefoot runs. I have dissected my mechanics, loaded my ipod with 180bpm music, and spent entirely too much time focused on hydration. That wall is still there.

Now with 3o days to go, I look at the calendar and I see two options; The Clarence Demar Marathon in Keene and the Hollis Applefest Half Marathon both on the 26th of September. If my schedule is met 100% it will be 26.2. If not, I will most certainly fall back on the Half. Either way, I need to keep reminding myself that 18 months ago, the longest run I had was from the couch to the kitchen during a commercial break.

So whatever happens on the 26th,…and whether it happens in Keene or in Hollis… I need to celebrate my discovery of motion.

And this I assure you, Mr. Wall… I am coming for you,….and I WILL perform the Scott-Dance-of-Joy when I break you…and I will break you, punk.

[As I think about the distance from that point to today (and having completed “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall), maybe that elusive ultra will be the next target?…Once the 26.2 becomes a thing of the past, of course.]

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