I heard people say “running is the cheapest sport you can do.” In a way they’re right. I’m sure most people could get up off the couch and go for a short jog in what they have on. Most people probably have an old pair of shoes they haven’t worn in a long time, that could be used for running. And odds are you have some form of athletic clothing. It’s a great way to get started too without having to spend any money. But when you get really into running, it can be expensive as hell.
Relative to other areas in the country the South has mild winters. But it’s still damn cold. So to go running outside without proper gear, is unbearable. I needed to load up on warm clothes so I could train for my first marathon. This is where running can get super expensive. I went shopping one day and my mind was blown. To get a jacket, technical long sleeves, pants, gloves and a hat was going to cost hundreds! Winters don’t last long at all in Georgia, so I figured I only needed to clothes for about 3 months. To weigh the cost and options, I checked out a local gym that was right outside my neighborhood. It is one of those 24 hour gyms, without any bells and whistles…so it was going to be cheap. It was $25 a month. So $75 for the 3 months I would need to use it. I could get maybe one outfit or I could get three months in a gym…hmmm? Not so tough choice. I went with the gym. (Mistake #1)
Every day I did my runs on the treadmill. It’s really hard getting use to running on those things. And at this gym there were two things that made it even more uncomfortable. First was that you could see yourself in the mirror. You imagine yourself looking like a pro with every stride. Maybe because you don’t really think about what you naturally do. Well it’s not even close to looking like a pro or even looking natural.
“Do I really look like that when I run? What the hell are my arms doing? Is my package always that revealed?” (I can’t be the only guy that thinks about this? Hahaha!) Alright so I forced myself not to look at the mirror, so I watched the tv that was on treadmill. This was the second weird thing. This made running boring and it seemed time went by soooo slow. You watch a few minutes of tv and think you’ve gone another mile, but only a minute has ticked by. You constantly get to see how long you’ve been running for and you literally just stare at the clock and count the seconds. I’m sure some countries use treadmills as torture devices…
Easy runs were insane enough, don’t get me started on the long runs! I got up to 18 miles. Never will I do that again! Another thing that sucked about going to a gym was that they had the heat on. Jesus, talk about a sweat fest. I’d do about 3 miles and it would look like I just dumped a bucket of water on the thing. Man I missed my morning runs outside.
On the job front, I was hating work every day. It seemed like every day I was feeling more frustrated. I needed something more for personal growth and I wasn’t getting it where I was. Other than frequently asking my employment agency for something else, I was letting my unhappiness boil inside. And I just couldn’t take it anymore
One Monday morning, I woke up and there was no fucking way I was going to work. I had no interest at all for going in. I had no plan and no other job set up. I opened up my computer, wrote out an email and said I wasn’t going in and please don’t contact me ever. I said I hated everything about the job and everything just got under my skin about the place. I did say sorry for quitting like this and thanks for everything they’ve done, but I was ready to move on. They quickly responded to my email, asking me to give them call and see if I could at least work another two weeks. I replied definitely not, I could not work another day there.
I was beyond relieved! It felt like I had just broke free and had unlimited possibilities in front of me. The day after I quit, I got a call from my family out in Montana. My cousin was working on fixing up a property in Lolo, Montana. There was a large cabin with 8 smaller cabins on the property and a pool that was filled with hot springs water. He wanted to clean the place up and hopefully turn it into a self sustaining area, using the natural water to grow food in a green house.
I absolutely love Montana, so I booked a flight back out there without hesitation. The idea was for me to go for a week to see if I liked the work I’d be doing. If I liked it, I would move out there to work for my cousin, in exchange for food and a place to stay. And I would be able to do a lot of training, since it seemed all I wanted to do. There is a big scene for the active people there. So it would be perfect for marathon and triathlon training.
I had never been to Montana during the winter. It was mid February, a month out from my marathon. It was freezing! The warmest it got during my week stay was freezing point. One day with the wind chill it was about zero. I had every intention of running this week…got nothing done. (Mistake #2) The work I was doing wasn’t all that bad. And I probably would have enjoyed it if it were in the summer. My cousin hired a carpenter and I was his handy man for the week. Our main goal was to get a green house built and running with spring water flowing for irrigation and heating. I don’t know if I have ever felt these temps before. One day my hands were in so much pain from the cold, I really thought I had frost bite!
It was manual labor, but there is something rewarding about working with your hands. Doing something useful. I had planned on returning. I wanted to do my marathon, then I would move out after. That was what I said I would do to my cousin when he was dropping me off at the airport. When my plane landed in Atlanta, the second I took my first step off the plan, the humidity de-thawed my bones. Once again the warm welcome of the south was nice. And again it felt great to be home again.
With 3 weeks away from the marathon, not having run for a whole week and missing my last big long run, I was a little worried. I really didn’t know what to do. I didn’t need to hide from the cold anymore and could run outside. I thought about doing the long run the day after I got home. Then I decided I would push it back to the weekend and do a two week taper. Well my first day back running felt like my first day running…ever! It felt like I had lost all of my fitness. And I knew treadmill running was easier than running on the road but I didn’t know how much. I read somewhere that treadmills are 20 percent easier. I was in for a big surprise and I had to get back into shape quickly.
I spent about a week and a half doing very easy running, just getting back to feeling normal. I skipped the long run again because I felt like I wasn’t ready. 10 days out from the race I decided to try and squeeze that run back in. (Mistake #3) I didn’t think I would be able to do 22 miles, but I still wanted to do a good amount. I did a miserable 16 with the last mile feeling like death. It was early march and the weather had already warmed back up. So it felt like I was shriveling up and dying the last mile. That and I think the treadmill running made me even more not ready.
I was nervous but excited going into the race. I stuck with my original time goal (Mistake #4) and felt pretty confident I could hit it. I had a very consistent training pace and I factored in my half marathon time, I figured a 3:30 marathon time would be doable. A few nights before the race, I went to have a few beers with friends at a local bar. All of them are big sports fans and do a good amount of betting. Which my marathon got into the mix somehow. Now my finishing time was on the line. It was a small bet and hands were shook. I had some pressure to perform come game time.
(Picture from the 7 Bridges Marathon 10/20/2013)