When Bad Things Happen to Good Marathons

Oh yes, we’re talking marathons this week.

With the Cowtown coming up, that should be no surprise. And don’t worry, I’ll be firing up a post later this week talking about how absolutely stoked I am for this race.

But this is not that post.

We all know it. Marathons are a strange beast. If you’re a competitor like me, you always give the race your all, even if it isn’t a goal race. Because, competitor.

Assuming, though, you’re a better/smarter person than I am, and train up for one goal marathon, it can be a lot. We all know the amount of training that goes into a marathon just so you don’t feel completely broken by the end. Even more training if you have a time goal in mind.

Remember that saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Yeah, well most of us do that with a marathon.

You spend months training and preparing for one day. Yet to have a really good day, you need a majority of things to go right on race day. If they do, you feel like a marathon god. If they don’t…well then you probably have to wait another few months to recover, train, and try again.

And if you’ve run a handful of marathons, you know that the stars rarely (if ever) align in your favor.

Without further ado, I present to you, the bad things that have happened to good marathons for all of my races.

Note, at least a few of you reading this will think something along the lines of: “Ben, you need to grow a pair (mentally) and just run.” You aren’t wrong.

Grandma’s 2015 – Ah yes, my first marathon. I was in such good shape for this one and the weather cooperated very well for the summer point to point course. The issue? This was my first 26.2, and I fell victim to the classic mistakes. I got a little too ahead of myself on my pace in the first half; and that led to me running my second fastest Half ever (at that point) over the first part of the course. That, and the fact that I didn’t fuel at all, completely ruined me. From Mile 18 to the finish I felt like warmed over death.

Milwaukee Marathon 2015 – I was so ready to slay this marathon. Then I got hurt, but tried to knock it out anyway. Registered what is still my only DNF at Mile 10. Note to self, don’t try to run a marathon injured.

Shamrock Marathon 2016 – If you’ve run the Shamrock in 2016 or 2017, you know where this is going. The weather was horrific. High winds coming off the ocean, and a headwind for most of the course. But rewind to before the race. I stayed at an AirBnb less than two miles from the start, and right on the course. Good idea, right? Wrong. My plan was to Uber to the start. Well, I learned that when you stay on the course, the roads are closed and Ubers can’t get to you. So I began walking to the start, in the rain, before another running picked me up and drove side roads the rest of the way to get me there. Talk about throwing off your morning.

Pony Express 2016 – Admittedly, I brought a lot of this onto myself. The Pony Express was a spur of the moment race (I signed up the Tuesday before). I had run a 10 mile race the week before, drove from LA to Sacramento to San Fran and back to Sacramento leading into the race (that’s it’s own story!). And I ran 13 miles through San Francisco the day before. Oh, and did I mention the 80+ temps for this race? All around bad.

Twin Cities 2016 – I will say, almost everything went perfectly this day. I actually wouldn’t change a thing about race day. However, my AirBnB the night before was less than ideal. The host was dog sitting that weekend, and this might have been the meanest dog I’ve ever encountered. Any time I moved in my room, it would sprint to the door, snarling, barking, and clawing at it. This even happened when I got up to go to the bathroom at about 2 am. That got me thinking, “How am I going to leave?” because I wasn’t going past the dog. Seriously guys, I was ready to throw my bags out the window to leave. Fortunately, when I got up, the dog was apparently asleep. I literally sprinted from my room to the door. So not the most relaxing sleep before a race.

Lincoln 2017 – Morning of the race. I’m getting ready, and putting my gels in my pockets, but something felt off. Turns out, I had my shorts on backwards. Misstep #1. I get out to my car, and drop my bagel (face down) in the road. Misstep #2. I get to Lincoln Memorial Stadium, and drop my opened banana on the ground. Misstep #3. Throw in the heat, and I knew early on it wasn’t gonna happen. A buddy in my running group also mentioned my error in staying up late to watch Breaking 2 a couple nights before the race. His exact words were “That’s why you sucked.”

Grandma’s 2017 – I’ve well documented my bonkers Spring on this blog. Should I have tried the Dam to Dam, Relay Iowa, Grandma’s triple? No. That’s really all there is to say. Don’t attempt a Full a week after a state long relay.

Milwaukee Marathon 2017 – Aside from the fact that the course was short? We also had wind. I was sick (as evidenced in a porta pod that I obliterated). The singer messed up the National Anthem…twice. And a freaking tree fell down in front of me!

And that brings us to the Cowtown. It’s not a goal race, which will be very different. Mostly, I’m super stoked to be able to run in not frigid weather for a couple days.

What are some less than ideal things that have happened to you on marathon day?


One comment on “When Bad Things Happen to Good Marathons”
  1. Laurie says:

    Very impressive list of races! Grandma’s was one of my first marathons too. It was soooo hot the year I did it. Bank thermometer in Duluth read 91 degrees! Great scenery though, and friendly race volunteers. I liked it!


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