In early 1986 I was happily racing bicycles in public events such as the Solvang Century and Rosarito Ensenada and working for Holiday Health Spa—now Bally Total Fitness—as a Personal Trainer in Long Beach, California where I overheard several members talking about the upcoming 1986 Long Beach Marathon. Note that this was prior to Google’s existence so I asked them, “how far is a marathon?” They came back with, “26 miles and 385 yards”. I laughed and said, “Oh, is that all? I can ride my bike easily over a hundred miles so running only a quarter of that distance must be a piece of cake.” So, they dared me to do the marathon and I accepted. And to make matters worse than the fact that I hadn’t done any serious running since high school was that I decided to train for the event via Super Circuit Weight Training which combines weightlifting with cardio workouts such as:
- Walk then run to warmup
- Lever Bench Press
- Run a lap around a 1/4 mile track
- Lever Seated Leg Press
- Run another lap
- Lever Seated Row
- Run another lap
- Lever Leg Extension
- Etcetera for, in my case, three sets.
LOL, I was even wearing a heart-rate monitor way back then making sure I was consistently in my target zone throughout all three sets which typically took a little less than an hour to complete three days per week.
Anyway, after very minimal training, and obviously not the best kind of training, and getting a cold three weeks before the race, I ran the 1986 Long Beach Marathon and finished with a 4:50ish time. Was I in pain? Yes, I had to stop on several occasions and pop aspirins as well as put Vaseline on my blistered feet and other sensitive body parts. Did I have fun in spite of the pain? Oh yes I did! So much so, I trained for the 1987 Lakewood Half Marathon, almost exclusively on an indoor padded track mind you, and finished with a 1:30ish time. Not too bad for a 27 year old cyclist!
Unfortunately I didn’t keep up with running at that level. In fact, after leaving Holiday Health Spa there were many distractions in my life that kept me away from consistently running, cycling, and weightlifting such as the death of my father, several failed marriages, lost jobs, injuries, etcetera. No excuses here by the way, if I could go back in time and do things differently I most certainly would! On the plus side, for the past few years I have been semi-regularly fast walking which helps feed into my training and goals.