Marine Corps Marathon Notebook: Challenges


(Photo Credit: Marine Corps Marathon)

Marine Corps Marathon is exactly one month away.

With just a few weeks left to embrace the blisters, multi-hour training runs and insatiable cravings for carbohydrates that accompany marathon prep, my running partner, Jeremy Boutwell, and I have encountered a number of challenges in advance of the race. Last weekend Jeremy and I both missed one of the longest (and arguably one of the most important) training runs on our schedule. I got hit with a sinus infection that kept me in bed for a couple of days and Jeremy wrestled with a fever and increased pain in his lower back following a cortisone shot that was intended to relieve the pain.

“Other than that I don’t have any excuse for missing any miles,” Jeremy said.

In his defense, he’s also been juggling training with college courses. Jeremy is in the process of completing core curriculum requirements at a community college near San Antonio so he can transfer to a larger university where he plans to major in public management.

“On Mondays and Wednesdays I tend to spend 12 hours at school. It’s just been long, grueling days doing homework and writing papers,” Jeremy said.

One month before thousands of runners fill the streets of Washington and Virginia for Marine Corps Marathon, race organizers have started to hang flags along the course in Virginia. (Photo credit: Marine Corps Marathon)

We’re certainly not complaining or making excuses for the hiccups in our training, but it seems like a good time to write about a couple of challenges we were bound to encounter.

Getting sick: Catching a cold during marathon prep is one of the most frustrating parts of training. Most runners I know get sick mid-season due to a change in seasons and overall exhaustion. We were no exceptions. But I’m happy to report that plenty of fluids, cold medicine and rest have done the body good. We’re both back on our feet and planning to clock some serious mileage this weekend.

Running solo: We realized how much easier long training runs can be when we run together.

“Doing the long runs is no fun without a partner,” Jeremy said. “I love running, and I’ve rarely run with a partner in my life, but when you’re doing 13-plus miles, it gets old being by yourself.”

I’ve thought about joining a running club and may seriously consider it in the future since having Jeremy by my side helped for encouragement and pacing. I suppose the easy solution would be to grab a friend to run with, but the problem isn’t finding someone who can run long distances, it’s finding someone who actually wants to run 18 miles.

Water: Carrying a sustainable water supply can be a pain. There’s no shortage of funky water bottles, waist bands and hydration packs available on the market, but when you’re running long distances the gear can often rub the wrong way.

Jeremy wears a hydration pack on all of his training runs but usually needs to refill at least once for any run over 10 miles. When you’re on the road or trail, finding a place to refill isn’t always doable.

“The Texas sun will suck the life right out of you. So carrying enough water is just not very practical. It’s not possible actually,” Jeremy said.

I’ve yet to find a water pack that I truly feel comfortable with as I run long distances. My latest method — stopping at bars or restaurants during a long mid-morning run on Saturday or Sunday and asking for a cup of ice water — has worked pretty well this season. I’m becoming a familiar face among the bartenders who field my water requests in the Georgetown section of Washington.

That’s a perk of doing an organized race during training season — the guarantee of having a water stop to replenish every two or three miles eliminates the need to carry your own water supply.

In light of some of these setbacks, I think it’s safe to say we have some serious work to do in a short amount of time.

“We need to get ourselves in gear. That’s pretty much the bottom line,” Jeremy said.

Deputy News Editor Bethany Crudele plans to run in October’s Marine Corps Marathon with retired Staff Sgt. Jeremy Boutwell. She is blogging weekly about his preparations for the race — and hers — on Battle Rattle.



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