On Sunday I ran the Steamboat Marathon and completed my “home-made” challenge of running three marathons within a two week time span. It was a fun time and now looking back I realize how crazy it was even though I do not really see it that way. I guess it seems crazy if you look at it from a casual runner or non-runner perspective, but when talking to an ultra-runner she said I did what she does in training and moves things into a completely different perspective. After the first of the three marathons I was quite sore for three days and I hated myself briefly for doing this whole marathon thing, but then again I loved the idea of running another marathon soon. After the second marathon (of the three-peat) I was like “Bring it on” and now after it is done I am kind of missing something to look forward to next weekend. Believe it or not, but I checked a few times if there is a decent marathon event really close to where I am, but the closest one I found is about 5 hours driving distance away. Pretty weird that I even feel that way. I do not feel worn out or overly tired at this point – yes, I feel the effort and my legs have certainly felt better, but I took only one rest day after the 3rd marathon and I have been doing either my bootcamp style workout or went for a run every day this week. I do not want to lose too much fitness and this should do the trick. I might not necessarily head out for super-long long runs, but from here it should be fairly easy to ramp up my training for another marathon.
So, this posting is kind of a recap of the events and how it all worked out.
Originally this idea came to me in December and grew from there. I was looking at races to run this spring. I kind of had a date with destiny because I wanted to prove to myself that I could run a marathon in under 4 hours. I ran my very first marathon last November and due to circumstances out of my control I became sick two weeks before the race, but still managed to run the marathon – not with a time goal though. All I wanted was to finish in a decent amount of time. Before I got sick my time goal was to eventually run it in under 4 hours because every long during my training showed significant improvements in my pace and the logical step would be to come in right around the 4 hour mark. Well, that did not happen, but I managed to run the marathon back then in 4 hours and 29 minutes and it left me “with no other choice” than signing up for another one and to do it again – in under 4 hours.
Then it got me thinking that it would be a waste to train for a marathon and not use that training for something else as well. So, I added a second marathon to my plan, but then I felt that it would be cool to do something that not many people do and so I added a 3rd marathon to my plan. I am known for not shying away from a good challenge this felt just right. That’s how I roll. Now I started looking at which marathons to run. I had the local Colfax Marathon on my mind already and so I started looking at races that were fairly close to home and that would be held fairly close around the time of the Colfax marathon. This requirement eliminated a lot of other races and after coming up with a short-list of five races I narrowed it down to the following races:
05/18/2014 – Colfax Marathon in Denver
05/26/2014 – Vail Valor Marathon in Vail
06/01/2014 – Steamboat Marathon in Steamboat Springs
I did recover fairly well after the November marathon (at least I believed I did so) and a week between the races would be just fine in regards to maintaining my fitness level. All this seemed do-able. I had enough time to extend my training from 12 weeks to 14 weeks + I also had enough time to build out my existing fitness through my bootcamp style workout and my normal running until I would start my marathon training. On paper all this looked perfect and so I registered for all three races and took advantage of the lower price options saving some money along the way.
Running a marathon is already an adventure in itself, doing 3 marathons in 2 weeks felt like a lot more. I was not sure how my body would respond to the additional exercise. My goal was to run Colfax in under 4 hours and to simply run the other two marathons for the experience and for fun. While overall time was important for those, it would be secondary and I would run by feel. I just did not want to turn into a turtle and need 5 or 6 hours to complete these races – I wanted to stay fairly close what Colfax turned out to be. Now after having this challenge completed I am not feeling much of difference compared to having run just one marathon. I was sore for about 3 days after the Colfax marathon, but I was barely sore after the Vail marathon. I am a little bit sore after the 3rd marathon, but I would say less sore compared to the first one. I am not feeling exhausted or tired and I even started working out again after having just one day of rest. As mentioned earlier, I took Monday off as a rest day and since Tuesday I have been working out again – doing either my Kosama Bootcamp or went for a run.
Running a race is exciting and I am certainly not exempt from that type of excitement. In every race I ran I probably came out a bit too fast, but I made it a point that I keep a close eye at my pace and forcefully slow down to reach my target pace for the individual race. I also had a race strategy for each of the three marathons and this worked surprisingly well. I have not been good with doing negative splits in a marathon and so I did not count for it this time. At least for these three races I preferred to put out a foundation that would carry me all the way to the finish line and this pretty much worked out well. I knew I would fade a bit towards the end, but from my experience it would not be too bad and it never wasn’t – at least not outside of my expected range.
05/18/2014 – Colfax Marathon in Denver – 3:57:06
05/26/2014 – Vail Valor Marathon in Vail – 4:18:00
06/01/2014 – Steamboat Marathon in Steamboat Springs 4:02:45
Which Marathon of the three was the hardest?
This is a good question. A marathon is never easy and even the most experienced runner can get into trouble if things are off just a little bit. The ultra-runner I talked to can run a marathon in 3 hours and 20 minutes, but when I met her I was on pace to reach the finish line just a little bit over 4 hours (Steamboat) and we were about 1.5 – 2 miles away from the finish line. She had just started walking and it simply was not her day. You never know how things turn out and I was fortunate enough to not have a really bad day running a marathon. I think the marathon up in Vail was the hardest for me. I had just run a sub-4 hour marathon (Colfax) and was sore for about 3 days. I ran twice in the week before Vail, but I was not sure how much the high altitude (~8,500 ft.) would affect me. I ran a pace about 35 seconds slower per minute compared to Colfax and all was well until mile #18. I was good on the flat parts of the course, but some steeper hills forced me to conserve energy by walking. It was not horrible, but I felt those hills in my legs and I did not have much to give. Now having run a 3rd marathon one week after Vail I am tempted to say it was the high altitude that affected me, but who knows and who really cares (I don’t). Anyway, the Vail Marathon felt the hardest – requiring more energy than the other two.
Would I do this again?
You bet I would and now kind of feeling empty with not having such a goal or challenge lined up for this weekend, I would be tempted to even add a 4th marathon and a 5th marathon to the challenge. This type of challenge will be a bit harder to organize as it will add more travel to the mix, but I think I would definitely think about it. I also found joy in running with others (Vail) and it really makes the time go by quickly and keeps you motivated – definitely something to consider when taking on such a challenge.
PS: Doing this challenge, meet the required criteria to become a member of the Marathon Maniacs. I joined the Marathon Maniacs earlier this week. It’s insane to see that I am only getting in on the second lowest level. There are truly some real marathon maniacs out there. I am proud and happy to be part of that group. Will see if I am going to be able to move up in the different criteria levels.