Marathon Success story with Bill Drinkward

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In this podcast episode we bring you a marathon success story with Bill Drinkward -a coaching client from Bend, Oregon.

Bill shares how he went from a disastrous DNF at the Honolulu Marathon to getting smarter in his training and qualifying for Boston.

He recently completed his first 50 trail ultra in 9 hours and 59 minutes!

Interview with Bill Drinkward


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Question: What motivated you to take on the challenge of an ultramarathon?

“My greatest source of motivation to take on the challenge of an ultramarathon came through what I learned from the passing of my father in 2017. In my final conversation with him, he stated in his very direct way “Bill you have “always been so cautious” (in the way I have lived).

As I reflected on his final words to me, I determined that he was giving me a massive gift by challenging me to do what I really want to accomplish within my precious remaining lifetime and to not hold myself back with my own fears or excuses.

I resolved then to live much more boldly towards my highest personal ambitions. I have always held those who run marathons and ultramarathons, as well as climb mountains, in the highest regard. While primarily dedicated to road running over the last six years (12 marathons completed in this time), my curiosity about trail racing began to emerge in 2018.

I have run five short trail races since 2018 including the Mt Hood 25k last summer. I loved the natural beauty of this particular old growth forest in the mountains, and knew that if I was ever going to do an ultra, the Mount Hood 50 Mile would be my first choice.

Retiring early from my multi-decade career on January 1, 2022 has freed me up to get after the most difficult and time intensive life ambitions I have kept in mind, one of which was finishing a legitimate ultramarathon. There was no doubt that this was the right year to go for it so I registered in January and was relieved to be selected in the lottery as an entrant.

A specific fear that I had to overcome was accepting that I was a beginner in this subsidiary sport of running called ultramarathoning. I had never traveled more than 34 miles in one day by foot so I needed strong guidance to avoid massive mistakes for such a feat of endurance to go fifty. I leaned heavily on Coach Steve for this guidance.”

Question: What have you enjoyed when it comes working with MTA Coach Steve?

“Working with Coach Steve has been so helpful for the variety of races I have sought his counsel on in the last 15 months. His coaching has helped me achieve a personal best marathon of 3:07 last October in Portland, and enjoy a long pursued Boston Marathon experience this past April.

  • Specific to the ultramarathon effort, he helped prepare me with gear selections, advanced workouts, pacing strategy, nagging injury mitigation, and the proper mindset to navigate such a vast distance and very long day.
  • We even held two lengthy prep calls prior to the ultramarathon to be sure I was as ready as possible to seek success.

When I stepped to the start line, I knew adversities would come in the hours ahead, and did they ever. Coach Steve had told me to expect adversities. Massive cramping in my right leg started at mile 28 and returned on several occasions.

A” Superman dive” into the bushes at mile 46 after one bad step in over 89,000 severely tested my resolve. While no one else knew or cared about my personal ambition of breaking 10 hours, I fought like hell the last two hours to somehow still meet my goal.

I felt so much pride within myself as I hurled my wrecked body across the finish line in 9 hours and 59 minutes. I attached a previously unposted photo of myself in a trashed state after finishing for your entertainment…I think the photographer was hoping to take a picture of me throwing up but at least I denied him that.

It was awesome to debrief the race experience with Coach Steve and hear his genuine enthusiasm for his client’s experience. Coach Steve is humble and wise, and I admire this about him. He has guided me to going faster and farther than ever before for endurance running. And I am not done yet!”

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