Getting Back to Finishing A Marathon

So I have decided to run in the Maine Marathon on September 30, 2018.

Now just because I want to finish a marathon does not mean that I will not run into problems, nay sayers, Harold being Harold activities, life getting in the way or other obstacles, especially the ones that I have between my own ears and a seemingly fragile body when it comes to marathon training.

However, providing the crik, don’t rise too much and make a drastic change of course, I plan on being in Portland, ME that morning to start, run and finish my second marathon. That’s right, when I finish this marathon it will only be my second marathon finish and third marathon start after 40 plus years of running – kind of strange in this day and age of people seemingly running marathons “all the time”.

Which means that I have to work on a few things before I get any further down this road that I have started on so many times before. However, I get a different feeling about what I am going to do this time, almost like it is finally the right time to do this marathon thing.

Well like they say, let’s start this journey and the adventures that will come with it, by taking my that first step towards finishing marathon number two.Where I am now.

First of all I am a sixty something guy, who is working on his third attempt at retirement. I retired from the U.S. Coast Guard in 1996, got into teaching – did that for more than a decade then left to regain my health, got most of that back, went back to work for a local University as an admin specialist and finally decided last summer that life is too fleeting to be wrapped up in the 9-5 world of work, after the sudden death of my brother-in-law.

This time I think that I finally have my head wrapped around how retirement works for me and am enjoying this part of my life. I am content with the direction it is going and comfortable with who I have become – that last part was a really difficult part to figure out.

However, I have some unfinished business that I really need to take care of before I get too much older – finish another marathon.

That’s it, just finish.

No time goal, no age group finish expectations, no BQ time, nothing but get to the starting line healthy enough to successfully finish the Maine Marathon on September 30, 2018, without literally killing myself to do it.

I “know” that I can, but the body and brain still remember the shit I put it through the last time I finished a marathon back in 1983. Yeah, a long-time ago.

I have started the marathon training process and trained hard to run a marathon several times since then, but never once got to the starting line. Which I mostly attribute to too much mental crap still going on between my ears, i.e. trying to bury the ghosts of the 1983 Marine Corps Marathon fiasco. That and believing that I needed to qualify for the Boston Marathon at the same time, which I definitely know that I do not have to do this time.

This time I have to do things a LOT differently.

What do I need to work on?

Get my shit together between the ears. This is gonna be tough, but I have a feeling this has been my limiting factor in getting back to the marathon. It also goes beyond the memories of the 1983 MCM and the fact that I have to keep my ADHD like tendencies under better control.

I tend to get quickly bored with what I am doing, then attempt to find something new or shiney to keep me interested and then having a tough time finishing whatever it is that I started with such aplomb. This is a big factor that I have overlooked too much in the past and one that I have to be very careful about managing and keeping under control. Especially, since I do not realize that I am doing things to sabotage myself or what I am attempting to accomplish, until after the damage is already done.

Getting the old body back to running – damn hamstring 🙂 and then keep this body running well by not being stoopid. Actually, I have a pretty good running base put together in 2018 and other than the hamstring issues have been running fine. I just have to listen very closely to what the body is telling me, especially when I start to get the little niggles and not let them grow into big problems.

I need to think about everything I do beyond just my running when looking at my training schedule and intelligently change or adjust things to ensure I am not doing too much too soon.

Choose a training routine and stick to it, at least better than I usually do. That figuring out how to stick to the damn thing for the next four or so months and not either ignore it completely or find another new, bright and shiney training plan that catches my eye after reading some book, blog post or magazine article.

Even though I really do hate to be constrained by what a training plan suggests that I do that day, I love the freedom to be spontaneous in what I do from day to day, especially on rest days when I am feeling great. Unfortunately, this spontaneity also results in many of my more stoopid moments and the subsequent injuries that I seem to collect more often than I should.

Quite simply I need to make sure that I stay closer to my training plan’s intent. I know that I will never follow a training plan strictly from start to finish – not too many people do, but I do know that I can do better than I have before.

What else?

Those are the main things, but there are some other things that I want to look at:

What data is necessary or important to track my progress? I have been working on updating my spreadsheet to include the data that I will need to keep track of to ensure that I am doing the work and also that I am not overdoing everything else. I will also keep posting to Strava, more because I like the stats graph and enjoy seeing how other people I know are progressing on their training.

Stop being such a gear head and focus on what works for my running. I have a long history of thinking/believing that the next piece of gear, technology or running shoes are going to make me a better runner. However, I have finally started to learn over the course of the 40 plus years of being a runner that 80%, hell probably 90% of my progress as a runner has nothing to do with what gadget I have on my wrist, what websites I visit, which tech clothing I am wearing or even what brand of running shoes I am wearing.

Instead of worrying about all the newest and greatest distractions to my running, I have finally started to realize that probably focusing primarily on my running along with pre or post running work, is going to make me a better runner and do more to help me finish this marathon than any piece of gear.

Although having the right running shoes does help.

I am not adding in anything about improving how I eat, dieting or cutting back on anything food related. I have own Scott Jurek’s “Eat to Run” and Shalane Flanagan’s “Run Fast, Eat Slow” and even with all their great ideas, advice – along with the idea that I actually know how to eat healthy…I probably will keep eating the way that I usually do.

Lots of fruit, veggies and homemade meals, but also chips, ice cream, sweets (a LOT less than I used to) and Whoopie Pies type foods than I should. I try to follow the 80/20 rule on this, but do not always succeed and my eating habits are another reason that I need to keep running. 🙂 Yeah, like Ray Charbonneau and many others state…”We run to eat…”.

What part will my blog play in my marathon adventure this time? I want to write about this adventure as more of story than a running log and see if I can pull it off. I got the idea for this from Ray Charbonneau’s “Overthinking the Marathon” and while I do not ever see this being published as a book, I can see me putting together a blog book and giving it to my daughter at some future point. She might get a kick out of it and pass it down to the grandkids, so they can learn a bit more about the boring life of their crazy old grandfather.

It also might also become book one of a trilogy, parts 2 and 3 to be written after I finish the Maine Marathon on September 30, 2018.

I am sure that more ideas, thoughts and changes will happen as I embark on my journey to finish a marathon, but at the same time I have a feeling that many things will be simpler as I focus in on what I need to do to complete this journey.

Now I just have to do the work.

I hope you keep reading and join me on my latest attempt to finish a marathon.

Any words of wisdom or ideas that I need to think about? Please do not be afraid to comment, I have failed at this getting back to finishing a marathon so many times, that your suggestion might be the one that helps me get to my goal.

5 thoughts on “Getting Back to Finishing A Marathon

  1. Hi Harold. I’m not so young myself and I’m currently in a running lapse – i.e. Not doing much but thinking that I want to do more. Like you say it’s in your head. I’ll be following your progress with interest! Jx

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  2. You are a running pro, Harold. And like mawii1 wrote, it’s in your head, so if you can focus on listening to your body and ignore the mellon committee, I think you are well on your way to finishing. And remember, an extra rest day is always better than forcing yourself through a run.

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    • No pro here, just an old fart who has made a lot of mistakes along the way and hopefully finally am going to use some the lessons that have been handed to me :). Rest such a four-letter word, but it is necessary and hopefully built into the equation going forward. No streaking for me.

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