Training That Changed My Life
My marathon training and recovery journey started roughly four months ago. My mind and body were in a dark and disconnected state. To put it honestly; addiction was killing me on the inside in more ways than one. I was spiritually dead, my health was suffering and my mindset was poor.
I have come to realize that there is so much more to life. I started running again, really laughing, learning who I am and loving me for me. I am truly grateful today for having an epiphany on South Sister in May that has literally turned my life 180 degrees.
It was June 2nd 2013. I had been sober for 23 days and my energy level was powering up. I knew deep down my spirit for the marathon and dream to qualify for the Boston Marathon was still a smoldering ember. I was not willing to let that ember die.
To me, the marathon is a 26.2 mile run that provides a testing ground for the human minds physical, mental and moral strength. It is a confidence builder that teaches the individual to dig deep inside for energy stores they never thought existed. My desire for another test began burning hotter with each passing day.
I made the decision June 2, to sign up for the Sunriver Marathon for a Cause. This time I am running with clear purpose. My mission is to get healthy, run strong, fast and free and ultimately qualify for the Boston Marathon. I call my dad "one of my biggest fans" and share my latest goal.
I am going to run a marathon in three months and put forth as much effort as I can to qualify for Boston. My dad and others have their doubts: bearing in mind that training for a marathon is generally a six month endeavor. Not to: mention I have just given up a very unhealthy addiction that was controlling my life.
I pick up my marathon training book written by Jeff Galloway and turn to the training plan for a goal pace of 2:59:00. I have had this page bookmarked for years, but always failed to follow it due to a serious lack of commitment and perseverance. The plan started 14 weeks ago and I now have 12 weeks before Sunriver. I hit the fast forward button and start my training according to week 15 of the plan. I do not advise anyone take such action.
Training goes quite well for the first 2 weeks. I ease into running 10 miles, go to yoga classes regularly, cross train and lift weights. Sunday June 16th calls for a set of 10-12 one mile repeats at 6:45 minute / mile pace. My mind and body are yet to become interconnected again at this point and I fail to realize that my muscles are still far too weak for this pace.
That days training results in a strained and highly inflamed knee that will take weeks to heal and set my training back. Or so I thought!
The next week all of my runs are replaced with aqua jogging and cycling. I was not mentally prepared for the set back caused by the knee injury and really needed a long run to build my confidence. The day before IRONMAN Coeur d'Alene I manage to convince my body that a 22 mile training run is going to happen despite picking up my training only 3 weeks prior. This utterly pissed my knee off. I now know something is really wrong and cannot help but think of the worst case scenario. MRI's, surgeries and months of rehab continue to run through my mind during the next few weeks.
In the weeks that follow I take my standup desk down at work, stop running and supplement every run with an aqua jog session in the pool, ride my bike more and start swimming. Miraculously, I come to enjoy swimming, something that I truly disliked up to this point and my knee begins to feel better.
Injury provides athletes with a great opportunity to learn and grow or be defeated. If we choose defeat we will either lose out on a miracle or repeat the same mistake later in our career. It is entirely up to our mindset and actions that follow whether we thrive off a set back or allow it to ruin us. I took this as an opportunity to stare my fears square in the face, adjust my training program and push on. Several weeks later I was able to ease back into running on trails, pavement and building my mileage.
July was a month filled with amazing experiences and key training sessions. On the fourth of July I was blessed with the strength to run Mt Bachelor and Tumalo Mountain in Central Oregon. This training day set in motion a huge confidence booster that would guide me in the weeks to follow. My knee was no longer in agonizing pain and things were moving back on track. Two weeks later my friend Lucas and I slept on the summit of South Sister and awoke to a truly magnificent sunrise. And, the following week I soloed Middle Sister via the Pole Creek Trailhead after a 10 mile morning run that was just under goal pace. Mountain climbing was just icing on the cake to a month of perfect training. Each footstep was strong, healthy and brought me closer to the starting line.
August was a reflection of July with more energy, strength and faith in my program. My training called for a run of 30 miles, which was just not enough for me. I had to follow that run with a a climb of Mt. Adams in Washington at over 12,000 feet. In just under 48 hours I completed a 30.33 mile run and summit of Mt Adams. This provided a huge sense of accomplishment that I do not think I have ever experienced. The human mind and body a truly capable of amazing things we just have to set them in motion.
After this run my training program calls for weeks of taper. This is a period in which I ease back on training and let my body prepare itself for a race. The weekend following my 30 miler I set out on a short afternoon trail run in a thunderstorm that spirals out of control. I ended up taking a wrong turn and running 20 miles down the Horse Creek Trail in Central Oregon. After this screw up I take a few days off of training to reflect on what I learned about myself and determined that this was just one more step on my journey to the marathon.
With each passing day my anticipation builds. At this point I have done all I can to best prepare for a race that will change me forever. I try not to build doubt into my mind, but a piece of me knows that three months is simply not enough time for the human body to go from running 0 miles to 26.2 at a 6:52 minute mile pace. I adjust my goal accordingly and set zero expectation for myself. I simply have a goal to run the best marathon I can and enjoy every moment.
Scott's 2013 Sunriver Marathon Experience
Marathon day is here! I awake at 5:30 to a star filled sky, cycle through my hydration and nutrition routine. Read literature that sets my mind in a positive direction and affirm myself that I have taken all the steps and done all the work to get to the starting line with confidence.
My kind girlfriend Nicole and her sister drive me to the start line. We arrive 45 minutes early and I use this time to warm up. I run 1 easy mile, 4 * 200's and do some light stretching. The morning is crisp, beautiful and full of positive energy. My family and some friends wait at the start line and I have friends afar cheering me on.
At the start line I look around at the 200 some participants and realize our stories of what brought us here may differ but at this very moment we share one common goal of finishing the marathon. As the minutes shrink to seconds before the start my mind fills with an overwhelming sense of joy. The announcer starts counting down from ten and we are off.
I start running at my goal pace of 7:00 - 7:15 minutes per mile. I plan on walking for 15-20 seconds at the beginning of each mile after the first. Mile one ticks by and my sudden stop clearly shocks the group I am running with. I pick up my pace again to 6:40 minute miles. This pace will ensure that I stay within my target mile pace range. My 5K split is 22 minutes. I am right on target for today's goal. At 10K, 13 Miles and even 16 miles I am still on target, but I feel the great marathon wall approaching.
As I near mile 18 my body begins screaming at me to stop. Just walk for a mile! You can give up now!
I see Nicole and get a short stint of energy that carries me through those negative thoughts. As I near she begins screaming words of encouragement, tells me I am doing great and that my family is just around the corner. Despite all the moral support my body was not taking it. My muscles were begging for a slower pace. With an ever climbing heart rate and sense of pain my body's physical ability to maintain 7:00 - 7:15 minutes per mile pace begins slipping away and quick.
I share a smile with myself as I settle into an 8 minute mile pace and begin thinking back on all the work I put into get here. I have worked as hard as I can and am going to continue at a pace that keeps my body happy, healthy and free. Each passing step gets harder, but brings me closer to the finish line. I think back to a chapter of Jeff's book titled "Magic Marathon Words". I am truly thankful for this section. I continue uttering words like relax, power and glide that are followed by positive affirmations.
With each passing mile I come to peace with a little bit more pain. I am in a true state of zen. This time allows me to reflect on the miracle of the marathon and how it can really transform an individual. How it has transformed me.
"These last few months have taught me some pretty serious life lessons that have completely changed who I am as a person. If you knew me before I was sober then you would know both sides of my personality. One of the biggest things I have learned is that failing to reflect on our mistakes will almost certainly ensure that we repeat them until we take a moment to stop. Injuries are part of being an athlete and simply part of life. They create opportunities for us to learn and grow as individuals. With a positive mindset almost anything can become reality. Even a marathon in three month's time! And, freedom from unhealthy addictions is possible. I am living proof."
At mile 26 part of my mind is telling me to walk to the finish. This thought is quickly washed away with a feeling of the finish line so strong that I feel it pulling me along. I can hear the announcer and screams of excitement growing louder as I feel my body moving closer to the finish line. I feel a sense of accomplishment blowing over my shoulders as I approach the finish and my family and friends come into view. Their excitement flows through me and creates a huge sense of energy.
I cross the finish line in 3:15:51, just short of my personal record by 10 seconds. My friends and family congratulate me and I share with them my gratitude for them being present. I spend the next hour nourishing my body and nursing my muscles back to normal function. I can say the Sunriver Marathon was beautiful and a huge success for me. I will be back again.
I really want to thank my mom for her patience, love and kindness through this, my dad for his support at every marathon Iv'e set out to run, my brother for his guidance, lessons and wishes, my sister for her positive energy and happiness, Nicole for her loving heart, smiles and non-stop energy, Bobby Lindstrom for guiding me on this journey and everyone else that supported me and continues to support me to this day.
I still have my mind focused on running a sub three hour marathon in 2013 and completing the Flagline 50K on September 22. This journey has only just begun! My mind and body feel interconnected again and I have a true sense of purpose. I am certainly not the best person I can be, but as I strive for excellence each day I get closer.
Thank you for reading!
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