From Zack’s Corner – We do this for fun?

Zack Scharlepp, President’s column July and August 2017

Running a Marathon is hard! My last two attempts at 26.2 miles have not gone according to plan, resulting in the first two DNFs of my short running career. In December the heat and humidity at the Jacksonville Bank Marathon mentally defeated me. A lack of training did it at Grandmas.

My training going into the race had been phenomenal. I was running six twenty to twenty-two mile long runs with the last two at or within 10 seconds of goal race pace. I was primed for a coveted Boston qualifier. Unfortunately, the weather gods had other plans. As race day approached – Sunday, December 18, 2016 – the weather forecast reported anything but ideal running conditions. As luck would have it the weatherman got it right, 70 degrees and 90 percent humidity at the start of the race. I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it despite the weather conditions. Eight miles in I was laboring. By mile ten I was struggling to hold a pace 20 seconds per mile slower than my goal pace and quickly realized a BQ simply was not in the cards. Physically I could have continued and may have even PRed. Mentally, however, I was done. My training had been 100% geared toward qualifying for Boston, and with that off the table I pulled off the course at mile 11 and made my way back to the start.

Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth was going to be my redemption race. My home state of Minnesota was sure to be the answer. I planned on picking up my training again in March and rolling right back into peak shape for the beautiful run along Lake Superior. Rhys, my son – the loving little germ box that he is – had other ideas. In the seven months since Rhys was born I’ve continuously battled head colds, body aches, and congestion. For a time, I tried to train through it, running a 20 miler during Tails and Trails that left me shaking, shivering and fielding questions from the paramedics of “are you alright” when I finished. By the time race day rolled around my training was non-existent. I had a grand total of seven miles on my legs over the prior three weeks. I considered doing the smart thing and spectating. Instead I decided to run easy with my sister-in-law and see how far my legs would carry me. Three hours and 16 miles later I had my answer. My quads cramped, my hip flexors screamed in agony and my feet ached from the time on them they were not used to. I pulled off the course and took the ride of shame to the finish line, surrendering my bib to the nice folks at the medical tent.

As I sit at the airport reflecting on my last two marathon attempts, I appreciate even more the commitment and mental fortitude shown by the likes of Jay Silvanima and Nancy Stedman, Jack and Laura McDermott, Felton Wright, Emma Spencer, Jennifer Shafer, Mike Peyman, Geb Kiros, Doug Bell, and the countless other GWTC members who are crazy enough to call “marathoning” fun. To you I tip my cap, wish you continued success, and happy training.

On a separate topic, GWTC lost a truly great member last month in Paul Hoover. While I did not know Paul well, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to read David Yon’s tribute found here. Tallahassee has seen a rash of automobile – pedestrian/cyclist accidents over the last three months, and culpability aside, please be careful and aware of your surroundings out on the roads.

One step at a time,