Taryn Spates is SFQ's Treadmill Marathoner

“Are you okay?” Marion asked after he arrived home from work.

“Yeah, I’m fine.’ I mumbled. ‘I’m just tired.” I was exhausted. 

“Well, of course you are. You just ran a marathon.”


I knew I had a marathon planned for Sunday when I took a peek at my schedule last Monday just before moving my car from the quaint neighborhoods of Toluca Lake to our company parking lot. Since I work a swing shift, all of the spots are typically taken when I arrive at work around lunchtime. However, this magic hour stroll is usually my favorite time of the day, and this occasion was no different, except this time I cackled to myself as I walked downstairs from my office, and outside to fetch my car, the sound of rush hour traffic dropped to a hum, and tunnel vision crept in because the realization of my toughest training week ever was sinking in; I was excited and terrified.

I hoped to run a treadmill marathon ever since I signed back up with Hillary last September, as she made them famous during her years as a pro working under Brett Sutton. I wasn’t ready to run one in 2010 during out first go-around together, but I had grown up a lot since then, and I felt I was ready now.

I had my first taste of a long treadmill run back in February when she gave me a three hour workout, but that came in at slightly over twenty-two miles, so not quite a marathon. Then, in late June my sadistic dream came true. However, this first marathon was meant to be at the same pace the entire workout, 7.5mph, which is an 8 min. mile, a quick, but reasonable effort. I loved every minute of that run, and thought that was it, one and done. Nope.

I was assured later that evening that I would see that workout again.

I hoped to see the treadmill marathon during this ramp up to Ironman Arizona, but when I finally did last Monday, it was not what I expected. This time around I was tasked to run the first half at 7.5mph/8 min. mi., and the second half at 8.1mph/7:24min. mi. That’s a jump. My average for the LA Marathon, my 3:16 PR, was just under 7:30min. mi., and I ran my guts out during that race, so this work out was not just a long run, but a long hard run.

Usually the week before a marathon a runner is tapering, and doing nary much running at all. This was not a usual scenario. I already completed a hefty week of training before my weekend started, and then on Saturday I rode many, many miles up and down the west coast, so it would be a safe assumption that I was not going into this marathon in prime condition. My legs weren’t fresh, and my mind was foggy from lack of sleep, but they weren’t in charge of this run, my heart was.

I ran it on pure passion.


Of course, I had plenty of fuel throughout the marathon, Clif Blocks, GU, NUUN, and H2O kept me going, and I was motivated by a carefully curated playlist on my iPod, but what really made me run well the entire 3:23:10, was the internal playback of the runner I want to be.

I visualized myself as a runner who is in front of the pack of a marathon alongside elite runners like Shalane Flanagan, and Deena Kastor, (I am practically twice the size of the typical elite runner, so the visual is hilarious, but still valid in this scenario.) Also, when my energy started to wane, I remembered that I asked for this, and was quickly flooded with pride and honor that Hillary believes in me enough to give me such a challenging workout. Plus, this quote from my high school cross country team thumped through my mind all morning:

The pride lasts longer than the pain.

I never doubted I could do it, even when it hurt, even when it hit me that I would be running a negative split on tired legs, I had faith I would get it done.

I did.

Next up is marathon #47 in the gorgeous landscape of Tempe, Arizona.

I went back to my running roots for this workout, so this song is fitting for the occasion. 

Taryn Spates is a member of our SMASH-Dimond Team and author of 35 By 35: A Runner's Quest. She is chronicling her long-run adventures week by week on her blog leading into Ironman Arizona on November 19th.

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