Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Well there you have it. 12 months, 10 marathons, 1 50-miler. All finished, all done; a challenge achieved.

(Pictures are coming)

It has been a pretty incredible year with this challenge, tons of ups and downs both while out running and in every other aspect of my life along the way. And because of the nature of my challenge and personality, I paid extra close attention to the entire growing process. I am in the process now of writing a memoir of sorts on the year and about the perspectives of running all those races. The emotional and psychological changes I went through because of and for the running that I did effected my life in such a constant way that I really don't know how I could live my life without always pushing and striving for change. But that is not the purpose of this post; this is all about the 10th and final marathon of the year for me. The 33rd Marine Corps Marathon.

Out of all of them, this was the very first repeat. My first marathon ever in my life was the 32nd Marine Corps and that was one of the greatest memories of my life. This one was a great one too, but had so many other qualities to it that made it completely different. Just like the first one, I met up with a big group at Mayor Fenty's house in NW DC. We loaded into three Navigator's and drove on down to the VIP tent right at the finish line. It was a familiar scene pre-race for me; I ate my bread and fruit, had my sports drink, kept bundled up and about 45 minutes before the starting gun, instead of GU, had a few Cliff Bloks. With about 5 minutes before the gun, we all walked towards the starting line where I looked back to see the 25,000+ runners behind me all eager to get going on this crazy 26.2 mile journey. It was exciting.

What was even more exciting about this one was the amount of people I knew. Most of the Mayor's group I had gotten closer with. I now was referring to the Mayor by name, which I think is pretty cool. I had a client running, another trainer and his client ran it (they met up at the start line just before the gun), and I had a bunch more people along the course that would be yelling for me as I ran by. The one thing that made me a little nervous was the fact that 5 days ago, when i went out for some light sprint work, I wore my fancy new Vibram shoes (see post on running shoes). This left my calves more tight then I have ever felt in my life, and come marathon start time, they were still pretty tight. Oh well, it was nothing that would hold me back, but it was definitely something I was very aware of. We all high fived, said our good lucks, and the gun sounded.

The pace was set pretty quick; we were going fast. By mile five, and this was through the hilliest part of the course, we were averaging a sub-8 minute mile. For reference, that is about two minutes per mile slower then my average marathon pace. We hung together as a group, most of us that is (there were a few real runners in there that took off, finishing well under a 3:30 total time), and just chugged along enjoying the amazing experience of running with so many people through the great city. Around mile 7 my client and friend Andrew met up with me and jumped in to run through Georgetown with me. We chatted and caught up (he's off to college, playing baseball at Princeton), and when he broke off I joined the group again and we headed towards Haines point, my least favorite part of the race next to the 14th Street bridge. This is where the halfway point was and we all felt strong through hat point. But just through that point. Mile 14 is where I crashed. And I crashed hard.

Now here's what I found out. A man of my size, running 10 marathons and a 50 miler, plus hundreds and hundreds of miles in training runs all in 12 months, makes it pretty tough for the body to handle at a very respectable pace. This is also not counting starting a regular Jujitsu practice, lifting on a regular basis and actively training some 30 sessions a week throughout, just to name a few other activities I was involved in through the year.

From that point on in the marathon I was just trying to get to the finish. I felt like I was wearing a 100lbs weight vest and running straight up a ridiculously steep hill the entire way. But I refused to stop. I decided that even if I wouldn't break the 4-hour mark (my goal going into the race), I would at least run the entire race without stopping or walking. And that is what i did. I ran as best I could, step by step, mile by mile, until I crossed that line. I was so certain I would just collapse that I immediately moved to the far side near the fence to catch myself. But it didn't happen. I got my medal, got my space blanket and headed back to the VIP tent to hang with the group and eat some food.

I crossed the line at 4:21, one minute above the male average for the marathon. The crazy thing about it, I felt bad. I even felt a little depressed. I realize now that this was the feeling that a lot of people feel after spending so much time training for such a huge event, and then when it's all done, they have nothing to do. And talk about feeling empty all of a sudden. I had a huge run almost all but one of the months out of the year, and then, just like that, it was all over. I sit now, three days after the run, and it's just starting to hit me now just what I accomplished. Best time of 3:50, worst of 6:18, six just slower than 4 hours and couple in the 4:20-4:30 range. Oh right, and that 50-miler. Man what a year.

Man what a year.
10 marathons.

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

PS - Pictures are coming

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Random Post...

...because I'm watching game 7 of the ALCS and am a little anxious, I thought it would be great to distract myself a little by posting up a little somethin somethin. So here we go: I haven't talked baseball in some time so I figure throwing up a little love for my sport would be a nice thing. I know the sport is probably up there with one of the most boring things around, but when you take the time to understand all the little intricacies of the sport, it arguably becomes the greatest sport around. Let me throw a situation at you and you will see how challenging this game truly is:

You are a pitcher who relies mostly on a power fastball. You personally have faced this batter 52 times already in the past four months and he has gotten a hit only 14 times in those at bats. Out of those 14, 10 have been on the fastball on the inside part of the plate (he struggles low and away). Today you are facing him for the second time (the first time he struck out, on the fastball) and your team is losing by one run in the 7th inning. There is a man on first and second with only 1 out and the next batter has already hit a home run off you. The count is 1 ball and 2 strikes (all pitches were away in the zone) and you are playing at your home field which has a very short left field wall, but a long right field one and this batter is a lefty who naturally pulls the ball towards the right side. So...what pitch do you pitch here?

Well, to get an idea as to what goes through a baseball players head, this is more or less what happens every pitch. And each player has something similar to think about. The batter has all this but the opposite, the fielders have to go through this to figure out where to play. The coaches have to factor all this in to judge how the rest of the game will be played out. Each and every player, going through all options each pitch. And to think that on average, there are around 200 pitches pitched by each team every game.

It's a pretty amazing game.

(oh yeah, and if it were me...I'd pitch a high and in fastball hoping he chases it and changing his eye level. If he swings, great, if not, it'll set up a great change up away that will be hard to lay off.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Marathon Nine - Completed

Well there you go. Nine down in my overzealous goal of ten marathons in a year. And of course, as is always the case with me, this one has an interesting story to go along with it. I mean, how could I ever actually just go out, train for a run, run the race, and take my time coming home? No, not me. I have to make an adventure out of everything I do. I wouldn't have it any other way! It's all so much more fun this way anyway.

So, this one's adventure was the two weeks leading up to the race, not necessarily the race itself, although, the race itself was a doosie I must say. On Tuesday, September 30, I went in to get a small surgery in my left chest. It was relatively harmless, but the doc said I wouldn't be able to weight train for about three weeks, and I wouldn't be able to do any cardio for 7-10 days. This sucks for me like crazy because I am pretty sure three weeks is longer than I have ever gone without weight training since I started weight training over 12 years ago. But, what can you do. Also, 10 days of no cardio puts me literally the day before my marathon. But then again, I am one to do wierd things pre marathon just to see how they turn out (see: MASS marathon, ALBANY marathon, OAR marathon etc.). So, I would proceed to go just under two full weeks of literally zero exercise before I would run a marathon.

It turns out, I am not good at not working out. I mean, physically it really wasn't all that bad. I got pretty restless in the evenings but besides that, my body probably needs the big rest (i will come back on a tear next week, just wait and see!). It was the mental aspect that really got me. I actually need to work out to keep my mind at somewhat normal. I guess in a way, you could argue that i have a slight addiction to exercise. I say that that's not the case because exercise doesn't interfere with my life. Ultimatly, exercise makes up my life. I describe not exerciseing at all for two weeks for me, is like a normal Joe Schmoe not being able to take a shower for two weeks. It is just a staple in my life that plays a huge roll in defining who I am. Needless to say, it was quite a challenge in itself to lay off it for so long.

But the even bigger challenge was running a marathon on so much rest. It was a tough one. I finished in 4:32, my third worst time. I had a great pace going, a nine minute mile pace, and I had a goal of finishing under 4:20 which is the average male marathon finishing time these days. But around the half way mark i started to get very nausous, something I've never really experienced running. I kept my pace going through mile 18 or so and then i just couldn't take it anymore. I walked a bit and ran, very slowly.

I finished very dehidrated and about to keel over, and once I got some nutrients in me, and plenty of water I had this crazy burst of energy. It was a very nice course, all through Baltimore. Very hilly but I really enjoyed how it was set up. All I know, is that i have one more to go to reach this year long goal of ten (along with the 50 miler), and I am very, very excited to have done so much this year!

Keep on ereading!
Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Monday, October 6, 2008

Crazy, New, Exciting, Fun Stuff!!

Ok, ok, I'll calm down a little, I am just overflowing with new things I want to get out and am excited to be able to let everyone know what i have going on here.

I don't really know where to start with everything, so I think I'll just throw things down and talk about them a little bit in no particular order.

This happened a bit ago and I realized i never really made the announcement. Before I took on the roll of an assistant baseball coach to a great select summer baseball team this year, I was announced as Directer of Strength and Condition for the great DC based sports company Headfirst Sports. I have known the guys who run this company for some time, in fact, the president taught me how to pitch the way I did. We have finally got together and I will be putting together plenty of camps and clinics for all the athletes that go through their program. You can check them out at www.playheadfirst.com

I will be on FOX News this month, and probably again next month as well!
It has been confirmed that I will be on to talk a bit about how baseball players train off the field in preporation for the World Series coming up so soon! The other spot will be on power running (sprints, agility and resisted running), all part of a four part running series they are having through November. I am pretty excited about that. I will announce the dates these spots air when I know them.

There will soon be other trainers working along with me!
I am in the beginning stages of hiring employees for the up coming camps I will be putting together along with Headfirst Sports. It will be fun to have another trainer or two, who share my passion for heath and fitness to be around and i am sure all my clients will get the privilege of learning from them as well. I of course will announce that hire when it happens.

And finally, most people know about it already but just in case you haven't seen it. I have started another blog called Challenge Me To Train. This is where I take people's challenges and I train for them in the most detailed manner I know how and post up the entire process. As of now I have chosen the three challenges I will be attempting (Run A Marathon, Jump Rope 2000 Times With No Mistakes, Finish The "300" Workout In Under 18 Minutes), and I have already begun the process for running a marathon. Please go check it out and leave any and all feedback you would like!


Well there you have it folks! New things are always around the corner with me, I can promise you that. And of course, I have only two marathons left to complete my Ten Marathons In A Year challenge!! Look for those posts, number nine is this coming Saturday...

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage