After that I was satisfied for awhile in the marathon. I continued to race other distances in 2014. In fact, I did 13 races in 2014 with one in every month for the first time in my life; I raced twice in October. 2014 was a great running year for me culminating with FIVE new personal records; half marathon, marathon, road mile, 10 miles, and 4 miles! However, doing that took it's toll on me as I was not the same in 2015. I started having some upper right hamstring/pirformis/hip tightness that I couldn't shake even with rest and foam rolling. I kept racing in 2015 until after the Beaufort Road Race when I knew I had to get aggressive with my injury. I took a break from running and sought Physical Therapy from my friend Katherine Price, owner of The Body Shoppe Physical Therapy. I also started getting regular massages from another friend, Holly Fisher. I skipped one of my favorite races that October, the Twin Bridges 8K Road Race. Previously I had only missed that race once since I started doing it in 2000. I regret skipping it in 2015 even though I was hurting. I could have ran it easy and for enjoyment but I knew it would be hard to do that in a race; especially one I won in 2013 and one that was also Sonny's favorite area race.
Thanks to the physical therapy exercises and regular massage therapy I was gradually able to start running again with the pain getting less and less. My first race back on little training and no speed work was the Beaufort Resolution Run 5K on January 1, 2016; which I won in 18:20. It was a good starting point for the new year. I continued to get stronger and was able to start seriously training again by adding in tempo runs and intervals. I still wasn't in PR shape for the races I was running but it felt good to race again pain free.
One of my best friends, Jarrod, and I started talking about a Fall/Winter 2016 marathon. Jarrod is trying to qualify for Boston in every state before he dies. We've been training together for years since we met but have only done three marathons together. I knew I wanted my first marathon back to be with a friend. He hadn't done the state of Arkansas yet and he found the 3 Bridges Marathon online. I was still hesitant about doing it because I wasn't sure how my body would handle marathon training again. The race had great reviews on Marathon Guide and based on previous results Jarrod and I had a shot at going 1-2. I thought that would be so cool! I've always wanted to win a marathon because it is one of the few distances I've raced that I hadn't won. Jarrod got his marathon win at the Brookings Marathon in South Dakota in 2011.
We settled on the 3 Bridges Marathon on December 17th as our race. I started training August 1st with Philip Latter of The Running Syndicate as my Coach. I had done well on training plans form the book Advanced Marathoning in the past but I wanted my own personal plan and Philip was the guy I trusted based on his success as runner and multiple High School Cross-Country State Championship winning Coach.
My training was going well and I was enjoying the custom training plan. It's good to mix up workouts so your body doesn't get used to the same training plan over and over. Philip progressed me along nicely as we didn't want to re-aggravate my injury. While I was feeling stronger and faster Jarrod started having some knee pain and had to scale back on his training. Unfortunately, Jarrod made the decision not to run the 3 Bridges Marathon because of his knee. Marathon training is hard enough when you're healthy but it's impossible when you're hurt. He still continued to join me for parts of my long runs and I appreciated his company.
The Battleship Half Marathon gave me a big boost of confidence for the rest of my marathon training cycle. I kept surprising myself by nailing the workouts Philip was giving me. As race day got closer he thought I had a shot at a sub 2:50. I wasn't so sure at first but he kept telling me I was ready and I believed him. I was also feeling nervous as race day got closer because I hadn't done a marathon in 32 months. Sonny always said "if you're not nervous before a race your heart isn't beating". No matter how well prepared you are you should still be a little nervous before a race, especially a marathon. A lot can happen in 26.2 miles.
I've had a lot of help, support, and encouragement from my friends, training partners, family, and my coach Philip to get me ready for my first marathon in over 2.5 years. I really appreciate all of it and I can't thank y'all enough. Now I just have to run the race, represent The Running Syndicate well, and make y'all all proud.