Erie Marathon 2012 – Gallagher Takes 5th

Sean Gallagher of Clearwater, Fla., returned fifth in an even 2:42. Gallagher, 30, was the marathon’s winner back in 2004.
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Erie Times-News wrote a nice short article about the Erie Marathon (officially named the Erie Marathon at Presque Isle) and they mentioned how I did in the race. Although I didn’t run a great time, I did learn several things from this experience. And from that I’m a stronger athlete mentally and physically.

It all started off with me having high hopes for this race. Leading up to the race I ran some of the best mileage I’ve put in ever. I ran 3 weeks of 110 miles and a few 100 mile weeks before that. Plus some great speed workouts. In general, some real solid training that I knew would really pay off. Then came the week of the race, I felt good and it seemed real to me that I was capable of reaching my goal of running around a 2:30 or under for the marathon.

But what happened instead was a bit of a mystery at first. I ran one of my slowest races in the past 2 years. So what happened?

Was it too much mileage, not tapering enough, eating the wrong stuff, not enough sleep, not being prepared. I racked my brain for a while trying to figure out what it could be. Most of the time it’s pretty obvious when something goes wrong what it was. But this time I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

Eventually I realized it was partly to do with the food I eat the night before. At first I was very reluctant to think this was the answer. How could it be, when I had eaten the same thing the night before for the past 4-5 marathons and each run a good time. In fact many of them were my PRs. Then I began to see what was happening here. I was right in the fact I could not assign cause to the food entirely. The real answer here was that my schedule was not constant.

At first that might not seem like something that could cause your race time to be slow, but hear me out on this as it might help you too. Have you ever noticed that your body gets into a schedule or use to doing things on a routine. For example, if you get a routine going where you go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up the same time your body may naturally wake you up without an alarm clock.

In a way you’ve trained your body to follow that schedule. What I realized was that I didn’t have a hard set schedule that my body was use to. I can blame that on my work habits. But when it comes down to it, I realized that if I had set hard schedule up for myself, something that grooved me in on a standard sleep and eating schedule this would have prevented the problems I faced at Erie.

So having and maintaining a schedule can make you a faster runner.

Now looking back at my performance, all in all, my time was not horrible but it was about 10 minutes slower than normal which is a lot in a marathon. It’s always surprising to see how much little things can cause huge impacts in marathons.

But from that I realized another key factor that can be applied to almost any sport.

I’m sure to anyone it can be upsetting to train so much and not achieve one’s goal, but this did show me that in sports in general and specifically for running, it’s not what you do when you win but what you do when you lose. I’ve seem many people give up because they couldn’t quite run what they wanted. And never return to running or simply just stay a “slow” runner and be content with that. So I took a good look at this and what I had done in the past when faced with defeat or a lose. I realized that this was something which set me apart from many people. I don’t give up! Instead I look to find out what happened (if it can be determine) and fit it, then more importantly I set myself focused back on my goal and continuing those actions needed to pull it off.

So I found that if one focuses all their attention on to the losses or failures your bond to just give up as you’ve never set yourself back to battery working towards that goal or purpose. I don’t think we always realize that most professional athletes have many, many loses and what makes them great is that they continue on in spite of it, knowing they will still reach their goals, dreams and aspirations.

This reminds me of a great quote by Michael Jordan “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

So go out there, keep at it, persist and succeed!

Sean Gallagher is a professional athlete, marathon runner. As an aspiring runner his goal is to qualifying for the 2016 Marathon Olympic Trials.