Every plan tells a story: David Thornley (part 2)

Part 1 of my story is here.

I finished the 2017 Chicago Marathon in 4 hours and 35 minutes. I’m quite satisfied with the effort I put into training along with the race day result. The image above is a great snapshot of training.

The plan in the first seven weeks included challenging runs with ample recovery time resulting in noticeable performance gains. After my long run at the end of week 7 I started experiencing foot pain that had me worried about a stress fracture, but a visit to the podiatrist revealed only an inflamed nerve. After a few days of rest and a regimen of prescription anti-inflammatory medicine I was back in the saddle.

By week 9 and 10 I was back at full distance and I felt awesome, so I decided to push myself for speed. In one week I set personal best times for 4 Miles, 5K, 10K and 13.1 Miles.  I was floating the entire week, but in hindsight I know I was an idiot. I deprived myself of the rest my body needed and I was about to pay for it.

As my long runs were getting longer, it became difficult to complete them before the days’ temperature rose too much. I had a few 20+ milers where more than 2 hours of the run was above 85 degrees Fahrenheit with 85% relative humidity. After a couple weeks of this I was full on experiencing the effects of cumulative fatigue. For the first time in over 13 months of training I was tired of running. I pushed through the fatigue for a while but eventually I altered my plan to start tapering early. I’m so glad I did as my morale bounced back quickly and I was rested and ready for the big day.

Community support for the Chicago Marathon is amazing! During the race I could feel myself feeding off of the energy from the crowd. It made a huge difference. In training, my pace would start to erode around mile 15 while in the race it didn’t happen until mile 21. I expected the last 5 miles to be miserable as my legs started to get sore and while they did get sore it was easily manageable. At mile 25 it occurred to me that I was about 10 minutes away from finishing a 2000 mile journey that spanned 14 months. It’s a feeling that I imagine I’ll remember for some time. I high fived a couple people randomly…yeah I was ‘that guy’…and finished strong.

I stopped losing weight at the end of August and through September, missing my weight goal as a result. I’ve read that this is common in marathon training. The exertion that goes into increased distance can slow your metabolism and on top of that I was eating more. If I’m truly working toward a lifestyle change then I can’t freak out given the circumstances. As such, I’m happy with my marathon weight of 217 lbs and I’ll refocus on weight reduction post marathon with a goal of hitting 200 lbs in four months.

On a final note, sometimes all it takes to change someones life is some encouragement to get started and then a little motivation along the way. Paul would tell you that this is my accomplishment, and it is, but without him I wouldn’t have fallen back in love with running. For that I’m forever grateful.