Never Say Never Again – The 2015 Run Hard Columbia Marathon Part 1

Tell me what I said I’d never do
Tell me what I said I’d never say
Read me off a list of the things I used to not like but now I think are ok

“Do It Anyway” – Ben Folds Five

Finish Line – Run Hard Columbia Marathon

“You don’t seem too into the marathon tomorrow,” my wife said to me last Friday.

I shrugged. “Yea, guess not.  I’m not even going to make a playlist.  Just going to recycle Kiawah.”

“How bad’s the knee?”  she asked.  Pulling out the frozen bag of peas and icing my knee recently had not produced as much conversation about this as I expected. Until now.

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”  I said.  This in reference to a conversation we had recently, reminiscing about a former coworker who made her mad with that comment.  She still didn’t seem amused.

“Not sure,” I continued, serious this time.  “Never dealt with this one before.”

I didn’t tell her that I really thought a DNF (did not finish) might be waiting for me on the hills of Columbia.  After two months of running almost 50 miles a week, I finally had a problem.  The week before, and only eight days until the race, the inside of my left knee  started to hurt, especially when running downhill.  One thing the Columbia marathon has besides steep uphills is steep downhills.  Dr. Google told me it was likely my MCL.  I didn’t ask the doc if I should run the marathon.  I didn’t want to hear the answer.

“What kind of time are you shooting for?” she asked.

“Hard to say.  Both other times on this course were 3:53.  I think improving to under 3:45 would show the new training is working.  I don’t see how I can beat my Kiawah time on those hills.  With this knee, all bets may be off.”

She rolled her window down. “Yes, I’ll have a grande skinny caramel mocha.”

The conversation was over.

Yays and Nays

I guess telling people I run marathons lets them know I’m quirky enough.  To prove it, though, I’ve developed a list of Do’s and Don’ts over the years, some of which most people will think down right weird.  Or dumb.

For example, here are some of my Do’s I’ve developed:

1. Do wear Injini brand socks.  These are socks with 5 toes in them.  Gloves for your feet. The best.

2. Do stay in half marathon shape. This means keeping your long run at least 10 miles each week. Fifteen would be better.

Here are my major Don’ts:

1. Don’t run on the the treadmill.   While the ancient treadmill in the garage helped start this  affair in 2008, I broke it off for good in 2012, I think. I find running on the treadmill mind numbing and too soft.  Also, they rarely cancel races due to weather, so I either juggle my schedule to accommodate the weather or put up with the conditions.  I mean how else do you know if you can handle a cold rainy marathon if you don’t run 20 miles in 37 degree rain?

2. Don’t take NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs).  These are your drugs like Motrin, Advil and Aleve that contain ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatories.  Many runners (and people in general) pop these like candy to battle inflammation.  Runners certainly know about inflammation. After I had foot stress fractures in 2011 due to over training, I dropped the use of these drugs (and Tylenol, too) to mask the pain of injuries.  I have a high pain tolerance already and taking drugs made it too easy to over train.  Now, if something hurts, I use ice and dial back training. Usually.

3.  Finally, after a miserable final 10 miles in the 2013 event, I added don’t run the Columbia Marathon again to my list.  It is a hilly, double loop course, which, of course, means you get to do some really tough hills twice.

 Keeping the Resolution

Hoka Clifton: My Current Shoes

You may recall one of my 2015 goals was to increase my running.  A very good local Ironman triathlete and exercise science PhD told me in December that I was already fast enough for my ultimate goal of Boston Marathon qualifying and said I just needed to run more.  And to do so, he recommend the Hoka brand running shoe.  He said the extra cushioning of those would allow my body to take the wear and tear of increased running.

Right after Christmas, I took some Christmas cash down to the running shoe store and traded it for some Hokas.  I then set out to pretty much double my weekly running to around 50 miles per week by trading in my old run three days and cross train two approach over to a plan that called for running six days a week.  While this isn’t the conventional or recommended way to increase run mileage, my body seemed to hold up fine with over 200 miles of running in January.

Well, it seemed pretty silly to me to increase my training and not have a race target, so I scanned the close-by events.  Myrtle Beach in mid-February was my first choice, but I decided it was too expensive of a weekend, after having just done Kiawah.  Same with Hilton Head. I was, however,  scheduled for a work trip to Arizona the first week of February.  I checked the Arizona races for the weekend prior to my meetings, and happened to find a marathon in the flat, desert lands of Yuma, Arizona on January 31st.  I signed up.  Now, I had a race target and would be able to see if the increased running helped at all, even if it was only a month. At least my employer was going to pay the airfare. I might as well run in a different part of the country.

Turns out some work stuff changed (see last post) , and I didn’t make the Arizona trip.  At least I was able to get an entry fee refund.  So, there I was still running all those miles with no target race.  I rechecked all the close races again, hoping I missed something.  Unfortunately, only one worked out well – the Run Hard Columbia Marathon.  Oh well, I thought, at least it’s a good cause – Run Hard is an after school running and mentoring program for elementary and middle school boys.  I readjusted my training schedule for a March 7th marathon.  Uh-oh. I planned to break Don’t Rule #3.


To be continued…



4 thoughts on “Never Say Never Again – The 2015 Run Hard Columbia Marathon Part 1

    1. Hey Laraine,

      I like them OK. They were weird at first. The Clifton model I have it a bit too narrow in the toe box, so they rub, and I have narrow feet and wear pretty thin socks. However, they seemed to do as promised – allow me to run a lot more miles without my body breaking down. I did end up with the knee issue, but I don’t know if that was volume or something else. I do plan on buying another pair of Hokas soon – the Bondi 4. Those seem to fit a little better.


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