I know some people who workout and don’t have any specific goals. They find motivation in just the workout itself. Maybe it’s weight loss, increased strength, or just ‘being healthy’. There isn’t a larger, driving goal, like go on a big hike, sign up for a strength competition, run a marathon, etc.
I am NOT one of those people. When I don’t have an overarching goal when working out, I tend to eat worse and lack focus. I have tried to set weightlifting goals such as ‘bench press 170 lbs.’ or ‘squat 225’. I got motivated when I started to get close to the goals, but then what? What is lifting that much going to allow me to do? It just doesn’t do it for me.
So it wasn’t a big surprise that while on the plane trip back from doing a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon, thoughts of what’s next were going in my mind. I have always wanted to do a marathon where I traveled to the location… a destination marathon, if you will. After searching around for what was available in the timeframe I wanted to do it (March-April 2013), I came up with the Little Rock Marathon or the Napa Valley Marathon.
Since my brother lives in Sonoma, CA now, I thought this might a good chance to train with him since he had expressed some interest in running a marathon in the past. I sent him an email and a few weeks later, we were signed up and I had my flights booked. Given the timing, I had to start my training plan the week I signed up for it.
Training through the winter was rough. It was mild through January, for the most part, but that is when it got cold and corresponded with when my really long runs started. I had to get creative and ran 14 miles on a treadmill one weekend (not a highlight for me). A big thanks to my wife for her support during these runs and for not getting upset that I needed to take one day every weekend to get my run in. Running a marathon is not an individual thing when you are married and have a family. It impacts everyone and I appreciate it.
I had an ankle injury that got worse during my training. I would limp all day between runs and even through the first 2 miles of my long runs, but after that it usually loosened up. This obviously had me nervous going into the run, but I focused on making sure I would show up at the starting line with plenty of rest. If I got seriously injured, I wanted to get injured giving it my all during the race.
The race day weather was nearly perfect and while my ankle hurt, especially in the last 4 miles, I finished. My goal was to run another sub-4 hour race, and I was on pace until mile 23. My brother and I ran together until that point. The pain in my ankles and the fuel in my tank just ran out. I had nothing left and knew I wasn’t going to be able to maintain the pace for the last 3 miles. My brother took off and met the goal, finishing in 3:56 or something close to that. I walked it in for most of the remaining three miles and finished in 4:09. Missed the big goal, but still a great experience. Made even better because I ran it with my brother.
My post race meal was two chicken tacos from Juanita Juanita, a local mexican place. A great ending to the trip.