Marriage, Mountains, and the Manifestation of a Marathoner

by Scotty Mac

Scott

On Sunday [August 3rd] I got married, kissed my wife, did a dance, went to a cottage on the coast, consummated the damned thing, and got on an airplane (sans the Mrs.) to fly from Portland to Seattle to Los Angeles, and finally to Mammoth Lakes, California, all before Wednesday.

You see it all started a few months prior when I finished the Boston Marathon. Disappointed – I was in discourse with my coach, Steve Sisson – we pondered the future.  What was I capable of? What was my training missing? What would we do different?

We established two main objectives upon which to focus before I competed in my next marathon: one, run more mileage, and two, train at altitude.

I realized that out of the top 30 finishers at Boston, I was probably running the least amount of weekly mileage. I would later come to realize I was running even less than originally believed.

At altitude, sure, the physiological benefits would be good; however, for me it would be more about immersing myself in my training; totally shutting out the world and focusing mentally and physically on the task at hand.

I would go to the mountains and run, eat, sleep, run, eat, sleep etc. This would be my day-to-day for an extended period of time.

Steve said, “You need to be at altitude for at least four weeks, and then come down to sea level at least 4 weeks before your race.” A grand total of 8 weeks before my marathon, which of course, as Murphy would have it, meant leaving for altitude immediately after my wedding…

Luckily, I have who some suggest to be the coolest wife in the world. You see many women, for whatever reason, would not approve of their significant other departing after their wedding day to train in a remote mountain village for a mere footrace. My lady, though not excited, did understand, and was willing to make the sacrifice.

We compromised on 3 weeks at altitude, and I would leave 3 days after our wedding. 3 weeks is just about enough to receive minimal physiological benefits of altitude. Again, I was more concerned with focus and solidarity than the actual physical gain.

I chose Mammoth because it is home to a college teammate, and my agent. Also, the Mammoth Track Club is based there, and they were nice enough to let me tag along for a few weeks.

I had a superb time in Mammoth! It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and I have never seen so many trails in my life!!! Honestly hard to beat when it comes to training grounds. Picture perfect trails covered with pine needles, weaving through evergreen forests and running under clear cobalt skies. The air, although lacking oxygen, was clear, cool, and crisp.

The members of the Mammoth Track Club are not just talented athletes, but truly amazing people. I felt welcome from the second I landed to the moment I took off, and I made what I hope will be lifelong friends. I feel that as runners it is easy to bond with each other. When we run, we all go through a similar experience, emotionally and physically. As runners, we understand each other; we understand the sacrifice, the suffering and the reward. Whether you run a marathon in 2 hours or 6 hours, we are all the same, we are all runners.

Most of my time not running was spent in my apartment sleeping and eating. When your body is working that hard, all it wants is nutrition and rest. I tried to give it as much of that as possible. I would lay there in my bed, day and night, eyes closed, dreaming of victory as my heart fought against the thin air, ever so leisurely dropping into a state of repose.

That’s not to say I didn’t get out to see the village once or twice. I needed to get out every now and again in order to maintain what little sanity resides in my mind. Plus, I like booze… I can explicitly recall a brewery, a dance party at a Hawaiian themed bar, and three naked hippies in a hot spring… but that’s a story for another blog.

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Before migrating to the mountains I had raised my mileage to average of 115 miles a week. This is something I should have done a long time ago. My aerobic strength is at an all time high!

What does a week of 120 miles look like? Well since you asked, here is (verbatim) a week from my training log complete with commentary on each day. This is what I send to Steve every week so he is up to date on my mileage and how I am feeling:

Sunday 7/6: 19.5 miles in 2:03

Felt okay. My back was sore to start. It loosened up. I felt heavy legged, not smooth at all.

Monday 7/7: AM- 12 miles PM- 6 miles

Ran slower in the morning. Kinda tired. Ran fast in the evening so I could get home for Dinner! Felt better in the evening! Worked in the shop all day. Tired.

Tuesday 7/8: AM- 9 miles PM- 8 miles

Felt pretty good today. Ran a little too fast this afternoon. But my back felt great.

Wednesday 7/9: 12 miles with 6 miles of fartlek alternating 30/60/90 secs.

Felt Awesome!

Thursday 7/10: AM- 12 mile trail run PM- 6 miles easy

Felt light on my feet and much smoother than I have recently. Even picked it up a few times. Nice to feel good with all this mileage. Also very happy with my mileage…Bout Time Huh Steve???

Friday 7/11: AM- 15 miles easy

Ran easy with Jo for a few miles and then finished easy with myself.

Saturday 7/12: AM- 14 miles PM- 6.5 miles

Felt okay, not my smoothest run, but not too shabby! Afternoon started sluggish and finished strong. Feeling confident about my next season of racing.

Week 11 total- 120 miles

I feel that the mental and physical edge I gained training at altitude, along with the increase in mileage I have run over the past 4 months will help me get much closer to my goals in the marathon. I am truly excited, albeit nervous for the next year and a half of my career.

I have taken a much more professional approach to my training this season and can’t wait to reap the rewards for my hard work.

On a serious note about my wife, our wedding was the most beautiful thing I have ever been a part of, and I had a blast every second of every day we were in Oregon for our nuptials. I am so happy Casey Jo agreed to marry me, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her.

In a nutshell, I am the happiest man alive, and on my way to becoming one hell of a runner. Stay tuned for more rambling.

Love always,

Scotty Mac

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Posted on September 24, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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