Pain is NOT Just Weakness – Part II: The Race

04.19.2012 | 12:01 am

A Note from Fatty to Winners in the Weight Loss Challenge: If you beat me in the weight loss challenge (i.e., you lost more than 3.47% of your body weight during the challenge), click here to fill in the form to claim your 100 Miles of Nowhere prize.

Note that I need to order the t-shirts by Friday, so you must take care of this by Noon MT Friday.

Another Note from Fatty: I had posted a while back that I would be posting a review of Bike Snob NYC’s new book today, as well as doing a live Q&A with him here on the blog. BSNYC had schedule conflicts, however, so we’re going to do the review and Q&A another day. I’ll keep you posted.

One Last Note from Fatty: You’ll find Part I of today’s story here.

I could tell the day was going to be hot, right from the beginning of the race. Here’s how — and try to follow my logic, because it’s pretty complex: the day was hot when we began the race.

But heat wasn’t my first concern when we started running. I can tell, right from the first few steps, whether I’m going to be OK during any given run. If my back’s going to hurt, it hurts immediately. If my knee’s going to hurt, it starts hurting within the first two or three steps.

But neither happened. The half-tube or so of Ben-Gay I had rubbed into my lower back, hip, and right knee seemed to have done the trick.

I felt OK.


So we started running faster.

I actually felt good.

We did the first few miles in the sub-9’s, which was definitely a best-case scenario for me.


“If we can keep this pace, we’re going to have a great race,” The Hammer noted.

Aloud, I agreed. But I also knew that I didn’t have the endurance to hang on at that speed for the whole race.

Aid Station Salvation

Because of the unusual heat, starting at mile 2, there was an aid station every single mile, on both sides of the road, staggered by 0.2 miles. So, in effect, there were close to 50 aid stations on this course.

Which means that the race organizers had to do some scrambling before the race, and the racers owe the organizers a very big “thank you.”

My racing strategy settled in pretty quickly. Slow to a walk at the left-side aid station (I chose left because fewer people seemed to go to them, since they came after the right-side stations), drink the offered cup of Gatorade, drop the cup, take the offered cup of water, and pour it over my head.

I tell you, on a hot day, a cup of cold water over your head feels fantastic.

Now, because I have no hair to speak of, the water would quickly make its way down my shirt and shorts, so I ran soaked for a good chunk of the day.

But — amazingly — by the time I’d get to the next aid station, I’d be about dried off and ready for another good dunking.

Which leads to an interesting little side fact: During this race, I drank 24 cups of gatorade and about 10 cups of water, as well as a full can of Coke (more on that in a bit). And I did not pee (or feel the need to pee) even once.

Yeah, it was that hot. around ninety degrees, it felt like.

Slow Down, No Sound

At around mile 10 or so, The Hammer turned to me and said, “We just ran a 10:20 mile.”

“I’m sorry, Hon,” I replied. “I’m giving what I got, when I have to give it.”

I decided maybe it was time to turn on my iPod, which I had clipped to the back of my shirt collar.

As it turns out, ten or so dunkings with water hadn’t done the electronics much good at all. My iPod was dead.

I’d be running this marathon a cappella.

The Pain Begins

By mile 12 or so, I was slowing down. A lot. I could feel it. Taking shorter steps. Taking slower steps. Barely lifting my feet.


The Hammer was having a very hard time staying with me. My pace was uneven and slow; her pace was rock solid and fast.

Slowly, but surely, she kept pulling ahead.

I tried to make a joke. “You never ever get to complain again about me half wheeling you,” I said.

It didn’t come out funny. It came out whiny.

“I’m sorry,” The Hammer said, feeling bad that she kept dropping me, but wishing I could keep up.

“It’s OK,” I said, also wishing I could keep up, and thinking that there’s probably a valuable lesson to be learned from being the slow guy. But at the moment, I couldn’t figure out what that lesson might be, unless maybe it was, “Try to stop being the slow guy.”

My soaked shorts started chafing (I walk funny today — I mean, funnier than usual).

My feet were blistering.

I saw a guy run by with a shirt that said, “Pain is just weakness leaving the body,” and I started thinking about what a stupid slogan that is.

I revised it, mentally, to this:

Pain is just your nerve endings telling your brain that your body’s doing something stupid.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to ask the Twin Six guys to put that on a t-shirt for me.

Countdown from 10

I made it to mile 16, which was significant to me, because it meant I could stop counting up in miles, and start counting down from ten.

The crowds kept me going. Awesome crowds. I gave high-fives to countless people. A little kid gave me an Otter Pop — the most delicious Otter Pop in the history of the world, by the way.

And then, at mile 20 — another important milestone, because it meant that all I had left to run was the distance of a normal training run — I got to the bottom of the famous “Heartbreak Hill.”

“I want to run this,” said The Hammer, and took off.

“I suppose I should run it too,” I thought, and took off at a much slower pace.

And there, at the top, was Team Fatty, with a heaven-sent Coke (for me) and a Mountain Dew (for Lisa).

More important than the cold drinks, though (and the cold drinks were very important indeed), was seeing friends again.


Thank you for being there, guys. That gave me an indescribable boost.


At around mile 21, I had a new problem: cramps. My calves started cramping, pretty much non-stop. Here I am, trying to stretch out of them:


Coincidentally, the cramps struck hard right at a medical tent, and one of the workers there asked me if I wanted to sit down for a minute.

“There’s no possible way I’ll get back up if I sit down,” I answered, completely truthfully.


Aaah. Sweet relief. For a moment, anyway.

A Farewell to The Hammer

At around mile 22, The Hammer broke the news to me. “I just can’t stay at your pace. I’m going to go on ahead for a bit, then I’ll walk and see you at the next aid station.”

“That’s fine,” I said. Actually, it was better than fine. I already felt bad about holding her up; this way she’d at least be able to get a little bit of a workout in that day.

And then somewhere in that mile, she ducked into a restroom. When she came out, she assumed that I’d have passed her by then, and took off running to catch me.

Of course, I had not caught her by then.

The nice thing is, though, this meant that — finally — The Hammer would be taking a few pictures of herself that day.

Here she is, at the one mile to go mark:


She looks astonishingly fresh-faced and well-rested, no?

And here she is with the finish line right behind her:



As The Hammer cruised to the finish line, I struggled on. From mile 23 — just three miles to go! — I resolved to take shorter walks and do my best to finish strong.

All things considered, I didn’t do too badly at this. This was due, in large part, to the increasingly enormous crowds shouting and cheering. Energy is incredibly contagious, and I found myself able to start running, where before I felt only barely able to walk.

I got to the finish line, and stopped my watch. 4:49. I beat the 5 hour mark.

So let’s call it a victory.


I found The Hammer, and we walked — oh so slowly — back to our hotel. I was glad to hear her say that she was sore and tired too.

I peeled off my shoes. My feet were wrinkly from running through so many misting tunnels, getting hosed down by spectators, and dumping water over my head (some of which would inevitably make it to my shoes).

Oh, and there were blisters, too:


We spent the evening talking about the run, and we agreed: in spite of the fact that I’ve now done several marathons with The Hammer (Death Valley, Ironman, NYC, Ogden, Boston), I’m just not ready for marathons. They crack me. They break me.

I’m going to keep doing some running — partially for bone density, partially to mix things up, and mostly because I like to do stuff with The Hammer — but for the next few years at least, my target events are going to be half-marathons.

Or at least, that’s my plan ’til The Hammer starts getting the itch to check off another item on her bucket list.


  1. Comment by Kari | 04.19.2012 | 12:15 am

    Chambois butter (for the chafed parts) under a pair of padless bike shorts (no added bulk like regular bike shorts) with your pants or regular shorts over to disguise it (so you’re not the guy who walks into the restaurant for dinner in spandex) works wonders for skin rubbed raw from running in wet clothes on the few days after an event until everything has had some time to heal. Copious amounts of baby powder will work in a pinch too but most people I know that use this trick swear by the chamois butter.

  2. Comment by lynn e | 04.19.2012 | 3:52 am

    The final pic of the feet tell the tale. If not for that I would say you looked remarkably fresh faced yourself. The other pics don’t de(pic)t the pain you convey. Great job. Runner: your poor toes.

    p.s. I may have submitted my info twice for the 100 MoN/Fatty challenge sign up – it was a tad confusing with all those ads.

  3. Comment by Kenny | 04.19.2012 | 5:00 am

    Pain is weakness leaving the body

    …or the lack of donuts entering it.

  4. Comment by Adam Bowes | 04.19.2012 | 5:00 am

    Unlike Lynn, I am confident that I only signed up once. I may, however, have signed up for Lap-Band surgery via one of the ads.

    We’ll see what shows up in the mail I suppose.

  5. Comment by Adam Bowes | 04.19.2012 | 5:00 am

    Deliciousness is donuts entering the body

  6. Comment by keith | 04.19.2012 | 5:52 am

    Congratulations completing your first marathon! I had a similar situation with my first marathons last year. The pain in my feet was incredible!

  7. Comment by Rob L | 04.19.2012 | 6:15 am

    I think I saw that life form on the toenail in an old episode of Star Trek.

    Great run you two, I was in Chicago a few years ago after one of the really terribly hot marathons and it was shocking ot hear how under prepared they were and how bad it was.

    Marines love that saying. Yah. It’s a special breed of crazy :) Nothing against them.

  8. Comment by mykill | 04.19.2012 | 6:27 am

    Congrats on finishing with a respectable time… and i admire your tenacity to keep running with an eye on half marathons. My conversations with the physical therapist after they rebuilt my knee went like this:
    Therapist: “You can start running now.”
    Mykill: “I hate running, i will just keep cycling.”
    T: “But you want to get back into tennis, that’s all running”
    M: “Yeah, to get to the ball and hit it, not just down the street for NO APPARENT REASON EXCEPT TO HURT.”

  9. Comment by Daniela | 04.19.2012 | 6:29 am

    You know what they (and by ‘they’ I mean ‘I’) say: “Those who blister together, stay together.” Congratulations on successfully finishing your race. Can’t wait to see your blisters from your next marathon. :)

  10. Comment by Justin L. | 04.19.2012 | 7:04 am

    That sounds horrible, I felt pain and misery reading about your run. Now I know why I stick to hiking and cycling!!! Don’t miss my running days

  11. Comment by Obstinate Roadie | 04.19.2012 | 7:16 am

    Yep, I don’t envy your Boston Marathon experience at all.

  12. Comment by Miles Archer | 04.19.2012 | 7:21 am

    There’s something kind of creepy about the feet photo.

  13. Comment by Fat Cathy | 04.19.2012 | 7:22 am

    “Iā€™m going to keep doing some running ā€” partially for bone density, partially to mix things up, and mostly because I like to do stuff with The Hammer ā€” but for the next few years at least, my target events are going to be half-marathons.”

    This is a sensible person talking. What happened to Fatty?

    BTW, congrats on gritting in out in that marathon. You inspire me.

  14. Comment by ClydeinKS | 04.19.2012 | 7:54 am

    I love your tactics around mile 12 to stay in front of the pack, but think those moves are more reserved for roller derby. Poor guy in the yellow tank looks like he took a swing to the mid-section and got the wind knocked out of him!
    Were there any blisters on the noggin’? My dome would’ve been SCREAMING without a lid or a thick layer of sunscreen…
    GREAT JOB on the time!!

  15. Comment by Tracy W | 04.19.2012 | 8:01 am

    Glad you were able to finish, and in a reasonably respectable time. I think you’ve made the right decisions about not running any more marathons. As I’ve followed your exploits, I’ve thought each time, “Fatty in a marathon is an injury waiting to happen”.

    Good job on this one. Boston had to have been so very cool!

  16. Comment by rich | 04.19.2012 | 8:35 am

    Good job and congrats to the both of you. Running 26 miles is insane…I’m mean impressive.

  17. Comment by Rob W | 04.19.2012 | 8:41 am

    Way to go guys!!

  18. Comment by Christina | 04.19.2012 | 8:59 am

    I would buy that shirt!

    I hoping when I crawl my way through a half marathon this fall that no one is witness to me stretching my calves. I won’t look nearly as chipper as you did.

  19. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 04.19.2012 | 9:06 am

    How many feet do you have Elden??? Talk about awesome powers!

  20. Comment by Kathy McElhaney | 04.19.2012 | 9:11 am

    Great job, both of you!

    I will be re-reading this post in about 6 weeks (just before my first marathon on June 3rd.)

  21. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 04.19.2012 | 9:12 am

    Nice job! You beat my marathon time by 11 minutes. You ran the Boston Marathon. Woo! I will probably run a marathon again, but I also concluded that it’s hard on the body and that maybe half marathons are more fun. So I’m doing a trail half in a couple weeks.

    The shirts look awesome, by the way!

  22. Comment by leroy | 04.19.2012 | 10:00 am

    My dog wants me to ask you to ask BSNYC to comment on the rumor that the Pulitzer Prize award committee declined to name a winner this year for fiction based on your respective books.

    He also wants me to ask you to post a link where folks who won the weight loss challenge can make a donation to LiveStrong to support Camp Kesem on your behalf.

    He also asked me for a loan so he can donate.

    On that last one, I might trust him just this once.

  23. Comment by mykill | 04.19.2012 | 10:14 am

    I think leroy’s dog is wise- i would also like to make a donation in the name of 100MoN in spite of my free ride, and i have a few family members that would probably kick in some bucks as well.

  24. Comment by George | 04.19.2012 | 10:25 am

    Congrats to the both of you!
    My first organized run in a very long time will be a 5K this summer. I fully understand why my preferred exercise is sitting on a bicycle seat.

  25. Comment by Kukui | 04.19.2012 | 11:07 am

    I third leroy’s dog’s and mykill’s comments: I, too, would like to donate my 100MoN money even though Fatty’s picking up my tab.

    Congrats on toughing the Boston Marathon out, Fatty! You and The Hammer are amazing!

  26. Comment by BonzoGal | 04.19.2012 | 11:19 am

    I fourth leroy’s, dog’s, mykill’s, and kukui’s comments. I don’t want my entry in 100MoN to cost the camp any dough!

  27. Comment by Roger | 04.19.2012 | 11:44 am

    I fifth that :)

  28. Comment by Graham | 04.19.2012 | 12:13 pm

    So let me get this straight… you ran all that way and there were zero bears, cops, or zombies chasing you?! I don’t understand….

  29. Comment by zeeeter | 04.19.2012 | 12:34 pm

    I strategically and deliberately missed Fatty’s weight loss target by about one chocolate donut. Excellent planning don’t ya think?

    Well done to both of you on your marathon, sounds like it was a hard-fought-for goal this time!

  30. Comment by Stacy | 04.19.2012 | 12:51 pm

    I recognize the blanket on the bed. We’re you staying at the Liberty? I finished right around you and had I seen you for a high five (if I had enough energy to lift my arm), it would have given me a huge boost.Rough day but glad to know you were so near. Thanks for making me laugh.

    Yes, we were at the Liberty! Amazing that you could tell that from the blanket. – FC

  31. Comment by Roderick | 04.19.2012 | 12:58 pm

    Fatty, you made me feel a lot better today. Yesterday on a 47 mile bike ride with my wife she just destroyed me. It was hot and windy and I was sucking wind on the whole ride and she was flying. With this I was feeling a little deflated until I read this post. Thanks for helping my ego.

  32. Comment by KM | 04.19.2012 | 1:07 pm

    Whoops…I hope I don’t mess anything up. I mistakenly entered my information for the 100 Miles to Nowhere twice, sorry Fatty and congrats on finishing, I think, I didn’t really read the entire post, it was about running and running makes me depressed. I went for a ride instead. The Runner finished though and that’s good, so congrats for sure to her.

  33. Comment by a chris | 04.19.2012 | 1:27 pm

    Congrats on finishing alive. Hmm. That didn’t sound as positive as I genuinely meant it to be. I admire the Hammer for showing such restraint. My sweetie would do it for me too. Or something analogous that doesn’t have anything to do with running.

    Dammit, why did you have to throw that thing about bone density in there? I’ve been so happy, not running, and making detailed plans for not running also in the future…

  34. Comment by ScottR | 04.19.2012 | 1:45 pm

    Congrats! So you’ve completed the Boston and NY Marathons – I think you can call it a day at that point.

    I would also buy that t-shirt. It would enter my regular shirt rotation immediately (along with ‘win’ and ‘riding sweep’)

  35. Comment by Charlie | 04.19.2012 | 2:00 pm

    I wonder if the guy wearing that shirt thinks that on his way to his next root canal…

  36. Comment by Gavin | 04.19.2012 | 2:14 pm

    This may have been said already but try some compression socks during the race. I struggled with calf cramps during the NYC Marathon then decided to try out some compression socks during a recent Half Marathon I cruised through w/ no cramps and set a PR.
    PS Good Job in Boston.

  37. Comment by Bikemike | 04.19.2012 | 2:18 pm

    pain is painful.

  38. Comment by stacy | 04.19.2012 | 2:28 pm

    I recognized the blanket at the Liberty because I spent a lot of time lying down in my room. I also drank my free glass of champagne in bed after the race. That made me feel better but not much. Did you see that Bloody Mary bar? I would have treated you both to a drink had I known you were there:) Hey, my husband and I are going to ride LEJOG next June. Wanna join us?

  39. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 04.19.2012 | 4:52 pm

    @Stacy Had to look up LEJOG:

    I’m convinced if you don’t convince Fatty, you’ll definitely get some other ‘Island’ based Fatties to join you, looks like an awesome adventure.

    Good Luck!@

  40. Comment by Jenni | 04.19.2012 | 5:47 pm

    Have you met you? I’d put a hundred dollars on you doing another full marathon before the end of the year.

  41. Comment by AKChick55 | 04.19.2012 | 5:56 pm

    Wow, I SO feel your pain. My first marathon was in Honolulu and that was the first and last time I ran somewhere that got above 70 degrees. I jogged our local Mayors Marathon and did the half and 5 miler events that are a part of it. However, I hate running. I’ve accepted it. Though I’m doing 2-3 running events up here with our local LIVESTRONG group (AlaskaLIVE), I will not be doing anything over 5 miles.

    For cramps, I highly recommend Hammer Nutrition Endurolyte tablets to help prevent cramping. I used them in training rides in Alaska (hotest ride was 80 or so degrees) and in Austin (90-100 degrees) and I really think they saved me along with my favorite long distance ride beverage, also a Hammer product, Perpetuem. I can go without solid food for over 8 hours and feel just fine and energetic, even in 90-100 deg heat. I did supplement in Austin with Luna Moons and sport beans. There were a bunch of folks cramping in Austin and I was worried I would too being an Alaskan and all, but nope, no issues at all. I like the Hammer products because I have the worlds most delicate and easily disrupted digestive system. They have no affect on me and help me save me a trip to the loo afterwards.

    I’m glad you came to your senses and are no longer going to do full marathons (unless the Hammer pulls out an unusal one). I stick to hiking in the summer and nordic skiing in the winter – though skiing isn’t an impact sport. I really loved reading about this marathon. Still hoping the Hammer will write a race report. Thank you for sharing and taking time out of your busy schedule to write all these entertaining blogs. I enjoy them immensely and love meeting folks on Team Fatty. :) Super awesome.

  42. Comment by AKChick55 | 04.19.2012 | 5:57 pm

    Hmm, just checking my post for spelling areas (sigh, can’t spell). and realized my favorite products are HAMMER products. Coincidence? I think not. :)

  43. Comment by AKChick55 | 04.19.2012 | 5:58 pm

    Dang it, ERRORS not areas. Geez. Airhead is me. Forgot to mention I will buy that shirt if Twin Six makes it unless I have one printed on my own. That’s awesome.

  44. Comment by Spiff | 04.19.2012 | 9:17 pm

    I want that twin six pain t-shirt.

  45. Comment by Michael | 04.19.2012 | 9:23 pm

    I just pansied my way out of a half-marathon this weekend, so don’t feel the least bit unmanly for finishing a marathon in less-than-glorious fashion. After running my way into a calf injury, I’m of the opinion that the occasional sprint triathlon or 5k is more than enough running for me.

    Congrats on getting that one off your bucket list, Fatty.

  46. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 04.19.2012 | 9:34 pm

    I’ve done two 1/2 marathons and will never do one again! I’ll stick to doing biking and Tri’s.

    Good job Hammer and Fatty!

  47. Comment by Wife#1 | 04.19.2012 | 11:47 pm

    HAHAHAHHA! @Jenni – the best comment ever. “Have you met you?”

    Dying here…. she has a point Fatty!

    AKChick – no word yet from the Twin Six gurus if they want to add that t-shirt to their mix! :-)

  48. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 04.20.2012 | 5:59 am

    If you get the shirts printed, I’m in!

    Nice job on the run. I was tacking your progress. So nice of the Hammer to pace you ;)

  49. Comment by rabidrunner | 04.20.2012 | 7:29 am

    What is with that race and blisters?! Everyone gets blisters. And they aren’t your average run-o-the-mill take a day off type blister… they are the mother beast of all blisters. If you’re bored, you can behold my Boston Blister by going to this page of my blog.

    (There’s also a bounty of B.S. on that there blog, but you can ignore that.)

  50. Comment by Leslie | 04.20.2012 | 12:38 pm

    Great job on pushing through!
    And how about making the shirt reversible, depending on how one is feeling:
    Pain is weakness leaving… for the good days. On the other side,
    Pain is nerve endings… for the crap days.

  51. Comment by KM | 04.20.2012 | 12:55 pm

    I’m sure someone noticed this already, but in the photo of Fatty walking, the guy right behind him looks like he’s about to deliver street pizza. Just one of those candid moments, I’ll bet he’d buy one of those shirts with Fatty’s new “pain” slogan.

  52. Comment by VA Biker | 04.20.2012 | 6:29 pm

    I completely agree with KM at 12:55 pm about the dude in the sleeveless yellow shirt. Said much more descriptively than I was going to do so…

    Congratulations on finishing. I’ve thought of late, “why is Elden keeping at this running thing?” And lo, the question is answered completely. Half marathons seem reasonable for a cyclist who is not really a runner first.

    Hope your recovery continues well!

  53. Comment by larry | 04.23.2012 | 6:52 pm

    Though I would never do it…

    I would love to punch the next person in the nose that claims “pain is weakness leaving the body”

    Oh, your nose hurts? Don’t worry….

  54. Comment by Bill | 04.24.2012 | 11:45 pm

    Way to go, Fatty!

    Quick question: what is the biking equivalent of a marathon in terms of suffering. Is it 150 miles? 200 miles? More?

    Just wondering…


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