A good friend of mine challenged me back in July to run the Las Vegas Rock n’ Roll Marathon with him. I was never a runner, and I mean… never, a runner. Here’s how it happened.

Around mile 22, clearly tired.

Around mile 22, clearly tired.

I was commuting 45 minutes to my Newport, KY office Mon. Wed., and Fri’s. Since my job primarily consists of working on the computer and talking on the phone, I didn’t get a lot of exercise. However, I had already started going to the gym on my lunch breaks earlier in 2011. From about Oct. 2011 to Mar. 2012, I was hitting the gym diligently for a 30 minute workout. First thing I did when I got to the gym was run on a treadmill for 15 minutes. This, to me seemed counter-intuitive since I I have a treadmill at home, and didn’t need to be paying a gym to use theirs. Since the gym was about a mile and half up the road from the office, it made perfect sense to run to the gym, skip the treadmill, and jump right in to my workout upon arrival. As a bonus, I got a quick “cool-down” run back to the office. It worked so well, I didn’t miss a beat, and I felt energized for the rest of the day. The run to the gym one way was about 1.5 miles. It was an easy run, but perfect before and after my workouts.That equated to about 6 miles per week. In March of 2012, I began working from home exclusively. So, I cancelled the gym membership and needed to find something else to do. I got a lot of exercise building a chicken coop and installing a pool myself before our July vacation. This is when my good friend suggested I run a marathon with him.

The timing was really great I guess. I had the spring chores wrapped up and was on vacation. What was I going to do to stay in shape when I got back? I took my friend up on his offer. In fact, I bought shoes and began running on my vacation. My first runs were along Lake Michigan and ranged from 2-3 miles each. I kept it up when I got back and ran the month of July… when our real training schedule didn’t start until August. August hit, and I was already in the groove. I was doing 7-8 minute miles and could do them pretty effectively, it seemed. I found my pace, and carried the water on my back.

I did my runs in the mornings. Runs under 8 miles could be done before I took the kids to school. When the miles increased above that, I had to run them after I got home… but before the work day got crazy. I started feeling pain in both my hips if I ran anything over 6 miles. That’s when I took a closer look at my form and got advice from others as well as checking out the local running store. It was a little weird identifying and correcting my running form, but I did… and the pain wasn’t there after my runs. So, I ran forward!

In all, I missed a total of 3 workouts, and 2 were near, the beginning of my training schedule. I missed a later 17 mile run only due to freezing rain. I have run many times in the rain before, but had to draw the line at freezing rain. Once in the groove, I stuck to it and didn’t miss a beat. When the runs got over 10 miles, the pain started coming back. Upon closer inspection, it appeared as I tired, I was falling out of form. Here is where I learned the importance of conserving energy. I slowed my pace. I was running 7:36 miles… and I was forcing myself to run marathon pace of 8:23 at least for the bulk of the run. Then, if I had the energy towards the end of the runs, I would burn out the remaining miles. It worked good for me. Because I conserved my energy, it took longer to “fall out of form.” There’s no doubt that long distance running requires decent running form. When you identify and correct it, the feeling is something great.

My first marathon stats.

My first marathon stats.

As the miles increased, something new seemed to pop up–random pains here and there. Each was a challenge to be conquered. I already eat a decent diet and have been avoiding processed foods since Dec. 2010. Since then, I dropped from 190 (my heaviest,) to 175. I always stayed around 175, but by the time marathon day came, I was down to 160 and it felt great. My diet is nothing calculated, and I don’t spend time counting calories. However, I most meals are made by myself or I’m very aware of what’s in it. By eating “honest” food in moderation… be it plants, meat or anything, you will more easily lose weight, and feel better. The feel better part is the result of keeping preservatives and other scary scrap jammed in to processed foods out of your body. Still, I didn’t eat a serious runners diet, but this year, it will be my goal to gravitate more towards one. I love vegetarian meals, but alas, I also love meat… and in fact, I’m just delving in to Charcuterie… the art of curing and drying meats. This is another blog 🙂

I’ll spare you the play by play of my marathon day run, but let’s just say I’m happy. I did carry my water on my back and blazed past all the water and Gu stops. My friend and I set out to do a 3:40 marathon, and I nailed a 3:46. I didn’t know how decent that was at the time until I told other runners ad got their response. When the final results were in, I saw that of the 5000 people who ran the full marathon, 2900 people finished it, and I was number 386.  Looking back, I can count a number of things that slowed me down, or things I could have done better. Because of this, I now feel I have to do it again! However, the next marathon will probably be a half marathon. Why not? I’ll do a half marathon… then, perhaps commit to another full one later.

So, to all the people that have heard me mention this was my first marathon, and likely my last, sorry to disappoint. It’ s looking like I need to step it up a notch, all in the name of good health. For any novices that are interested, here is the training schedule I maintained for my first 26.2, along with my actual times for each run. The 3 items in red were the 3 runs I missed. Items highlighted in green meant that I beat the suggested run time. I hope this inspires at least one person to possibly give a full or half marathon a try. Maybe I’ll see you at “the pig.”