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My Endurance Sports Journey Part 3 – Marathon and Ultrarunning

“You want to run how far?!?”

After five amazing years in the triathlon/duathlon scene, I made a clean break and continued my endurance sports journey into the running world. (My earlier endurance sports years: part 1 – Adventure Racing / Mountain Biking, part 2 – Triathlon / Duathlon)

The transition to a running focus, allowed me to continue to enjoy going long yet freed up time and energy for my family. Also, purely running (road and trail) was somewhat of a new world to me that I was interested in exploring. The marathon was an obvious first target and soon after that I explored ultrarunning.

Here are some of my top running memories so far.

Road Running Highlights

Boston Qualifier

In summer of 2006, a fast running friend of mine (TJ) and I decided to try and qualify for the Boston marathon at the White Rock marathon in Dallas Texas. This race is definitely not the easiest Boston Qualifier but I really don’t think we cared about that. We were going to prepare the best we could and see what happened. Although this was my first standalone marathon, I was excited for the challenge.

Our qualifying time was 3:10:59. Little did I know, that 59 seconds would become quite important on race day.

WR-mary-TJ-dave-1TJ and I followed Hal Higdon’s Advanced II marathon program fairly closely. We did bump our last long run up to 23 miles versus the 20 noted in the plan.

For all of our training, we used a race pace of 7 min/mile and easy runs in the 7:30-8:15 min/mile range.

Because our abilities at the time complemented each other so well, I think our race day fitness was beyond what it would have been if we each would have trained solo. Looking back on it now, there was just something special in that block of training.

December 10, 2006 brought along race day for the White Rock marathon.

TJ and I coasted through the first 15 miles with a half marathon split of 1:31:30. We were both feeling great! Starting at mile 15 through 17, we both went through a tough patch and started to feel the miles. The smiles were gone and we were both focused on the task at hand.

I began to slowly separate from TJ over the next couple miles. I wasn’t running faster, just slowing down less. It was get-serious time and we now were both running our own race to the finish.

At mile 23-ish TJ recovered and came cruising by me. I was hurting, dehydrated, and bonking so I was unable to jump on his coat-tails. The course merged with the half marathon runners so it became congested and tough to try and navigate my way to an aid station to grab water and calories. Looking at my watch I knew I still had a chance but honestly had no mental math ability to figure out how much of a chance. Keep pushing.

Finally I could see balloons up ahead which had to be the finish line. My vision began to narrow as I was running on fumes. TJ crossed the finish line 90 seconds sooner and was waiting for me to come in. I crossed the timing map with nothing left in the tank in a time of 3:10:39. I qualified for the Boston marathon by 20 seconds!

TJ and I would head to Boston in 2008.

Post Race Celebration!

Post Race Celebration!

Marathons of Texas Challenge

marathons-of-texas-1To add to the challenge, I decided to take on the Marathons of Texas challenge. Three marathons, three months, go get sum! The three marathons included, Dallas White Rock, Houston, and Austin.

I went into Houston with minimal training due to an IT issue following the Dallas marathon. I determined I could run in short segments of time without any problems. For the entire marathon I implement a 3 min/2 min or 2 min /3 min run/walk ratio for 24 of the 26.2 miles. I was able to finish sub 4 hours and include a huge smile on my face. Though not my fastest, this marathon is one of my proudest marathon moments.

TJ and his wife Stephanie also took part on the challenge so we all went into Austin with one goal – just finish. We all really tried to enjoy the day. TJ and I both had a full bottle of beer around mile 16 thanks to some supportive fans with a cooler along the course. One more beer stop at mile 25 and we all crossed the line together to finish our first Marathons of Texas challenge.

Jacket for Finishing the Challenge

Jacket for Finishing the Challenge

Boston Marathon

In spring 2008, the family headed out to Boston for the 112th running of the Boston marathon. I knew early on in the marathon that my legs were not interested in following my mind,  so I did my best to soak up the experience and be grateful for the opportunity. I finished my first Boston marathon with a time of 3:33:55.

Full Boston Marathon race report.

Supporting a Friend to a Sub 4 Hour Marathon

Instead of focusing on my race, I decided to help support a friend with her marathon goals. This was definitely a unique and fun experience. I just hoped I wouldn’t be the weak link.

Stephanie was able to run a sub 4 hour marathon and a 45 minute course (White Rock marathon) PR in windy and humid conditions.

Ultramarathon Highlights

Towards the end of 2007, I was eager to challenge myself in the ultrarunning scene. Running on trails, going long, within nature, seemed like a great place to explore the world and myself.

First Ultramarathon

In the fall of 2007 I completed my first trail ultramarathon at the Rockledge Rumble 50 km trail run. I went into the race a bit gimpy again and finished the challenging course in 6:47:39. The course kicked my butt pretty good and my body rebelled but I completely loved the roots, rocks, trees, dirt, diggers, and peopled. I was hooked!

First 50 Miler

One month after the Rockledge Rumble, I decided to run a 50 miler with a lingering injury at the SunMart 50 mile trail run. Stupid! I was unable to properly train for the event but really wanted to get in a 50 mile finish.

Due to the IT issue, I could not run the downhills or uphills. Long story short, I suffered, suffered, and suffered a bit more. I finished the Sunmart 50 miler in the dark (my first night run experience – kind of cool!) with about 25 minutes to spare before the cutoff.

I was able to fake a 50 mile run but it was far from a wise decision. 50 miles is a long ways to gimp from the get-go.

Barely able to walk to my car, a faint smile radiated from my face. I finished 50 miles! This rocks!

My First Ultramarathon Back Home

superior-trail-run-finish-aDuring the fall of 2008 my family headed up to visit my parents in Minnesota and we brought them along to Lutsen for the Superior Trail 50 mile trail run. The course was a point-to-point run within the rolling woods of northern Minnesota. This was a great chance to test myself on rugged and beautiful terrain and show my parents a bit of this ultrarunning world I have become passionate about. Great race!

My Superior trail 50 mile trail run race report.

First 100 km

I headed to southern Texas for the Bandera 100 km trail run in January of 2010. This is definitely not the easiest option for a first, but one I will never forgot. In order to finish I had to manage a couple areas that were breaking me down mentally – the combined cold and darkness.

My Bandera 100 km race report

First 100 mile…attempt

One month after my Bandera 100 km finish, I attempted my first 100 miler at Rocky Raccoon. The mind and stomach were fine, the body wasn’t ready.

My Rocky Raccoon 100 race report

First Timed-Event

In the spring of 2009, I included a timed-event in my running experiences scrapbook. The event, 8 Hour Run from the Ducks, consisted of a half mile loop through a peaceful botanical garden. Round and round I went for eight hours finishing with 40.8 miles at the end of the day.

Fantastic fun! There will definitely be more timed-events in my running future.

Anyone that enjoys long course running, should give at least one timed-event a try.


My top resources so far in the long course road and trail running world.

Coming Up

I am on my journey back to full health after recovery from a knee tweak from Rocky Raccoon in 2010.

There is so much yet to explore in the trail running and ultrarunning scene. I am grateful for what my body has been able to do and I look forward to the growth opportunities yet ahead.

The journey continues…

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

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