Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My First Marathon - Isaac

This is part of a series on my blog called, "My First Marathon". The concept is simple, write a post about your first marathon, a race recap, why you picked it, how training went, if you liked the race, etc. and I will post it on my blog. If you are interested in participating in the series you can email me at

We haven't had a "My First Marathon" post in awhile, but this sixth guest post is very exciting for me! I personally know Isaac, we went to high school together and we actually ran cross country together my freshman year (the only year I ran in high school, ha!) Mike and I have had the pleasure of having Isaac on our Reach the Beach Relay team, running with him in Maine and I had the honor of having him run the entire MDI Marathon with me by my side. Isaac is one of the most supportive people that I know and I hope you enjoy his "My First Marathon" post! 

 You know I had to put this photo in here, Isaac!

I was lucky to finish my first marathon. I was probably stupid for signing up for it in the first place and definitely completely naive about the scale of what running a marathon entailed. I was a senior in college and was running on the cross country team for my second year after not running during my first two years of college. The cross country team had a tradition of going to South Carolina in December, renting a house, and then running a race. There was a half marathon and a marathon option. My longest race until that point had been a 10k. So of course I decided that the full marathon would be fun to run.

I signed up for the Kiawah Island Marathon, which would take place on December 11th. I had less than two months to get ready. My training consisted of running my college cross country season and then continuing running until the marathon. I didn’t have a training plan and I don’t remember what my longest run was, but I don’t think it was over 15 miles.

I had no plan going into the race and the only thing I knew about the course was that it was very flat. I started running with some friends before they turned around on the half marathon course. I remember drinking and eating whatever I felt like at the aid stations without a real thought of how it would affect my body. The leg pains started around mile 18. The stomach cramps started soon after. The last 8 miles consisted of going between running, walking, and stretching. I just kept moving forward. I remember feeling angry at myself that I had to walk. I never really made the connection during the marathon that my poor training was the reason I was walking and in so much pain, I just knew I had to keep moving forward. Ignorance can be bliss at times.

I crossed the finish line with a net time of 3:35:06. Looking back, I have no idea how I finished in such a fast time. I did not deserve it. My fast finishing time does speak volumes of how much running I did during the cross country season and how the season of training had me in really good shape. I guess all those short to mid length runs add up. After I crossed the finish line, I was too exhausted to be happy. My friends made me go to the food tent and get some soup and kept me walking even though I just wanted to lie down.

In the days after, I remember being happy with my time and thinking that there was no way I could ever run that much faster. I had given it my all. The concept of training and preparing myself for the distance still eluded me. But I loved the challenge of the marathon. I loved the distance. I enjoyed overcoming the pain and finishing. I wanted to run another one.

MDI 2005 (2nd Marathon) on Sargent Drive

I ran my second marathon ten months later on October 16th, 2005. The Mount Desert Island Marathon was my local marathon. Sadly, I did not do any research about marathon training or running over those ten months. I trained less than I had for my first marathon. This marathon has plenty of hills and I went out way too fast. My legs started hurting around mile 10 and I had no nutrition with me for energy. I actually had my parents go buy me a banana so I could eat it when I saw them again. Looking back at a picture from the marathon, I am sure I was overheated wearing Gore-tex rain pants the whole way! I walked a lot in those final miles, I wanted to end the pain and misery, but I knew that I was going to make it to the finish line. I finished in 4:08:08. Again, I really didn’t deserve this fast of a finishing time. I guess sometimes youth and being in shape can make up for training. Luckily I did not get seriously injured.

I then stopped running for 6 years.

Sugarloaf Marathon 2012 (3rd Marathon) in the middle miles

In the Fall of 2011, a Facebook friend who I went to High School with had started posting about running. She even started a blog about it. She kept posting regularly about the different aspects of running and I started to remember the parts of running that I had loved. She posted really often! So I went for a run and found my passion rekindled. Some co-workers and I decided to sign up for a marathon that was 7 months away. Again, against logic, I decided to skip the shorter races. This time we all kept each other honest. We followed a training plan, we kept each other motivated, and we had fun. This was my first marathon that I felt proud about my training and execution during the race.

Top Left: Maine Marathon 2012 (4th Marathon) - BQ of 3:00:55
Top Right: Boston Marathon 2013 (5th Marathon)
Bottom Left: Maine Coast Marathon 2013 (6th Marathon)
Bottom Right: Sugarloaf Marathon 2013 (7th Marathon)

Since then, I haven’t looked back. I have now run 11 marathons and a 60 mile ultra. I have been honored to run most of my marathons with friends and enjoy the 26.2 mile party with them. I have run marathons between 3:00:55 and 5:14:32 and have enjoyed each one. I have been able to be part of friends’ first marathons and run with others as they PR. It is an amazing feeling to be able to experience a marathon with friends. Running to me is now about having fun and enjoying the steps along the way. The process has become just as awesome as the race itself. I am grateful to have supportive friends, family, and the running community.

Left: Maine Marathon 2013 (9th marathon)
Top Right: 60 mile ultra
Bottom Right: Rowe Marathon 2013 (11th marathon)

Currently, I am now training for an attempt at running 100 miles in a day on June 28, 2014. I will definitely be walking at times and I now realize how beneficial walking breaks can be compared to what I thought about walking during my first marathon!

MDI Marathon 2013 (10th marathon)

And that friend who kept posting about running all the time, her name happens to be Jamie, and she still has her blog. You are actually reading her blog at this moment. Jamie, thank you for getting me back into running!


  1. Aww, I've missed Isaac. He will always hold a special place in my heart. Reading this made me think of him telling his marathon stories during MDI. He's an exceptional athlete and a warm hearted person. I can't wait to see Isaac next month in NH!

    Oh and you're always welcome to come run a race wherever we live Isaac!

    1. Crystal!!!! Half at the Hamptons is getting close!

  2. Such an awesome post! I went in to my first and only half marathon completly under trained and thinking oh it wouldn't be that bad.... I thought I may die before the end couldn't feel my legs feet or hips just kept moving cause I wanted that dang medal at the end...
    The My First Marathon blog posts are alway so motiviational!!!

  3. This was so much fun to read! It's amazing the training/racing blunders we make sometimes. I too am a chronic over-dresser.

  4. Jamie, thank you for for letting me write a bit about my marathon experience. It was nice to look back at how much my running has changed over the years. Have a great day!

  5. I love Kiawah, right down the road from my house:)

  6. Awesome journey Isaac! I loved reading it!