Congrats to our client Demi Nazarro on completing her first marathon!! She writes,
“I’ve been a member of the MTA community since 2020, having been introduced to the podcast by way of the Social Distancing Run 100 Mile Challenge. I have been inspired by the many success stories of everyday runners achieving their fitness goals, breaking personal records, and just becoming a better version of themselves.
I became motivated to make my story one of those stories. Finally at 58 years old, I ran my very first marathon at the Eugene Marathon last April 30th.
Race Recap: The Eugene Marathon
The Eugene Marathon has the tagline “Running in the Footsteps of Legends” because of it’s history. But my choice for my debut marathon really had nothing to do with its history – it has to be a flat course, it has to be in the spring, and it has to be in my home state.
It did help in my visualization later on that I was going to finish in the same tracks where the world’s best runners have run. But really, given that my marathon story was more than three years in the making, I could have run in another event and the experience wouldn’t be any less magical.
I started running in my early 30s back in my home country, the Philippines. Even without training I was able to run a few 20Ks and a HM. Then I took a long hiatus after I migrated to the US.
About 5 years ago, a friend was going to run a 10k race and invited me to join her. I didn’t think I could run a 10k so just signed up for 5k. Except for an occasional elliptical workout, I didn’t train at all. A few days before the race, my friend sprained her ankle, so I ended up running the race alone. I did finish – was sore and stiff for almost a week–but I was ecstatic! I could run again!
I did several more races after that – 10ks, HM, and relays. I didn’t follow a training plan – I just ran when I felt like it or when it was convenient, then cram a few days before the event. I knew I was not adequately trained, but would just show up at every race, and somehow finished every time.
I signed up for the HM at the Portland Marathon in 2019, and at the expo I got to chat with an elderly woman volunteer who said she ran her first marathon at 60 years old. That blew me away! I signed up for the Portland Marathon the following year, 2020.
Of course, the world came to a standstill that year. My running didn’t. Although races were canceled, I was running more than ever. However, I was not consistent and was running too much, too hard, too soon. I had painful shin splints that would come and go. I thought I had another flareup in 2021 but it turned out to be a severe tibial fracture that left me in crutches for 2 months.
All this time, I got this idea in my head that I’m just too old, my bones too brittle for such high-impact sport. But I never doubted it is possible. I did realize I need to do things differently. I signed up for coaching with MTA.
I was paired up with Coach Athena who has been a well of knowledge and experience– and patience. She tailored a 3-runday/week plan for me that allowed my injury-prone body time to recover.
I began to understand what an easy run feels in my body. At the same time, the quality sessions gave me a feel of what racing at faster paces felt like.
I’ve had a few niggles here and there – knee pain, foot pain, muscle spasms (but no shin-splints). My training notes may have sounded whiny, lame excuses for chickening out . . . I most remember one response: “We will get to you to the start and finish line”.
Up to that point, my goal was just to finish a marathon injury-free. My perspective changed: I would count it as a big win just to get to the start line injury-free! Also, I didn’t have big time goals, but I thought it would be nice not to finish last.
Race week was not without surprises. My husband and I planned a weekend stay at a hotel in Eugene near the start line. We made arrangements for someone to check frequently on my father-in-law.
Just a few days before the race, my father-in-law had a bad fall, so my husband had to stay home with him. Fortunately, a retired friend of mine was available to accompany me to the event. It was very stressful navigating an unfamiliar place, but my friend was such a great sport. She went through all the hurdles of road closures and didn’t give up despite missing me at multiple locations. She finally caught up with me at mile 21. She held up a sign that says “Philippians 4:13” which has been my mantra all through my training.
Although it was stressful watching the forecast to be in the 70s-80s the week prior, the weather on race day was perfect! I trained in the cold wet winter weather of Portland, so ideal whether for me was 40s-50s and no sun. It was exactly like that on Sunday, with just a hint of drizzle at the start line.
I think the race went well for me overall: fueling and hydration went as I practiced in my long runs. I was engaging with the crowd and volunteers. I tried to encourage other runners too. I was enjoying the moment!
I was hitting my splits up until mile 22. My longest run in my training cycle was 22 miles. I knew the last 4 miles will be the hardest. I wanted to finish strong, my legs didn’t feel heavy, but my energy and willpower were now ebbing low.
Maybe I hit the wall at this point as I didn’t plan for what I did next: I held back my pace, took 5 minutes longer at the last 2 water stations in order to stretch, then started walking for 5 minutes before running again.
I did pick up my pace the last mile, then raced the last half mile that I was able to pass more than a few much younger runners.
The most memorable moment is the last 0.2 mile: when I entered the Hayward stadium, I had a surge of energy and ran like I did those fast reps in my quality sessions. Then I saw myself in the gigantic stadium screen – it was like watching myself in a dream so I had to close my eyes so I don’t wake up.
Thanks, MTA, for inspiring me to dream and do hard things! First marathon at 58 in the books! I finished strong and injury-free!” -Demi Nazarro