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DEREK TO FACE ‘THE WALL’

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By Derek Mandell

Mandell in yellow, runs with JFK star John Aquino during the recent Hafa Marathon. Derek is ready for his first ever marathon this Sunday. (courtesy photo)

Mandell in yellow, runs with JFK star John Aquino during the recent Hafa Marathon. Derek is ready for his first ever marathon this Sunday. (courtesy photo)

Sometime in early January, I decided to momentarily step away from the short track races and join the masses of people that torture themselves by running 26.2 miles in one race. The history books (or wikipedia) tell us that 26 miles was simply not enough, so they added two-tenths of a mile for good measure. Since that fateful decision, I reminisced about my family’s running history, ran a LOT , and found out my shoe size is actually 8.5.  I also officially registered for the Guam International Marathon, which means there is no backing out now.  If confidence plays any role in racing a marathon, then at least I will have that. All the hard training has been done and I now impatiently wait for April 7 to arrive.

‘The Wall’

I have been told by many seasoned runners that a marathon is split into two different parts: before “the wall” and after “the wall.” For those unfamiliar with the term, “the wall” refers to the invisible barrier that runners eventually run into during the duration of a marathon, usually around mile 20. From my understanding this is a result of the human body consuming all its energy sources, though i could be entirely wrong. When this happens, a runner essentially transforms from a wild deer running effortlessly a field, into roadkill that was once a wild deer running effortlessly in a field.

Local running legend and GIM race advisor, Fred Schumann, once told me about the “caveman theory” behind the wall. The caveman theory speculates that our human ancestors had a hunting radius of ten miles when searching for food. Ten miles to catch the prey (perhaps the wild deer?) and ten miles to drag it back to the camp; anything longer than that was more than we were able to physically handle. There’s no telling how I will feel when I first encounter the wall, but if it is anything like the final 200 meters of an 800 meter race then I know it will be painful. But like any challenge in life, it’s necessary to experience in order to reach a goal.

‘Tapering’ at 75 miles a week

For the past few weeks I have drastically reduced my training volume. Unfortunately for me this means running an average of around 11 miles a day instead of running an average of 14 miles. However, it has been the most enjoyable 75 miles I have ever experienced. It was a necessary cut-back after trashing my legs for so many weeks. There was a bit of a scare three weeks ago when I completed a typical workout much slower than my usual pace. My father/ training advisor told me to not worry, but to start reducing my mileage which has worked wonders recently.

Like this GRC 8.6-mile Run finish, Derek is used to winning. What he's not used to is running marathons. He'll get his first shot this Sunday. (courtesy photo)

Like this GRC 8.6-mile Run finish, Derek is used to winning. What he’s not used to is running marathons. He’ll get his first shot this Sunday. (courtesy photo)

It has been fun writing these training blogs leading up to the Guam International Marathon, but this will be the final segment in this format. It wouldn’t make sense after the fact. To those who have taken the time to read them, I sincerely thank you for your support and appreciation of all things running. Running on Guam continues to grow and I will continue to love it. See you at the starting line…

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