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Running Jacksonville Marathon

Running Jacksonville Marathon 2023 Brian Kondas

With less than 2 months until his 50th birthday, Brian Kondas begins running the Jacksonville Marathon on Sunday, December 10, 2023. Having barely survived the Buffalo Marathon a year and a half ago, Brian bravely sets out to prove it wasn’t the distance but dehydration that almost killed him. With a plan to hydrate at every aid station, can he finish 26.2 miles without a hospital visit?

Missing Bus Driver and Parking

Since there is limited parking at the Bolles School, runners could park at a satellite parking lot, and a bus would transport them. When I arrived at the parking lot, a man told us that the bus driver didn’t show up. Furthermore, he suggested we drive a mile down the road and park in the residential neighborhood.

I drove South down St Augustine Rd to San Jose Blvd. Traffic was stopped in the right-turning lane. So, I figured that must be towards Bolles School. I turned left and drove South on San Jose Blvd and saw a long line of cars parked on the East side of the street. The west side of the street was coned off, and police officers riding with motorcycles with flashing lights patrolled the area.

Driving down a residential area on the West side of San Jose Blvd, I saw no cars parked on the side of the road. So, I decided to park on the East side of San Jose Blvd where everyone else had parked.

Running The Jacksonville Marathon

Race Goals

My first marathon goal is to finish under 4 hours. If that isn’t possible, my next goal is a time faster than 4 hours and 11 minutes and set a new personal best. Finally, if I fail the first two goals, my last race goal is to finish the marathon.

The Start

The Jacksonville Marathon was scheduled to start at 7 AM. However, it was delayed and started at 7:05 AM. Since I planned to finish before the 4 hours, I positioned myself slightly ahead of the 4-hour banner.

I listened to the 4-hour pacer explain he would run using the Galloway walk-run-walk approach. Since I was not planning to use the Galloway method, I would not follow the pacer. Instead, my plan was to follow my Garmin RacePro Pacing Strategy: a constant pace of 9:02 per mile for 26.2 miles and a finish time of 3:57:00.

As I crossed the start line, I started my Garmin watch.

First Half Marathon

Here are my half-marathon mile spits:

  • 1 mile at 8:56
  • 2 miles at 9:06
  • 3 miles at 9:10
  • 4 miles at 8:59
  • 5 miles at 9:01
  • 6 miles at 8:57
  • 7 miles at 8:51
  • 8 miles at 9:20
  • 9 miles at 9:01
  • 10 miles at 9:23
  • 11 miles at 8:58
  • 12 miles at 9:46
  • 13 miles at 9:57

According to TrainingPeaks, my half-marathon time was 2:00:26, and my pace was 9 minutes and 11 seconds. If I could maintain this 9:11 pace, my marathon finish time would be just over 4 hours (4:00:46). At the halfway point, a sub-4-hour marathon was still possible.

My Pace Slows

For the next two miles, I run a pace of 9:32 (mile 14) and 9:44 (mile 15). Then, my pace slows to 10:51 (mile 16), 12:23 (mile 17) and 11:43 (mile 18).

During this time, I talk with Tabethia, a 19-year-old female runner. She is jogging slowly and I ask her, “Do your legs hurt?” She says they do, and I tell her, “My legs hurt too.” We jog together and chat for a couple of miles. This distracts me from my painful legs, and the miles go by faster.

Tabethia stops to use the bathroom and I continue on ahead. My pace quickens to 10:22 in mile 19, then falls again to 11:42 in mile 20.

Mile-21 Surge

I speak with a guy, telling him, “My legs hurt.” He responded with words that ended in him calling me “brother.” Feeling a sense of brotherhood with this fellow runner, I accelerated my pace. Passing runners, I told them, “The warmup is over. Let’s race.” Adrenaline rushed through me, and with the spirit of Goggins, I shouted, “Who’s going to carry the boats?”

My bold plan was to run the last 10K (6.2 miles) as hard as possible. Running at a 9:02 pace in mile 21 produced my highest average heart rate of 151 bpm in the Jacksonville Marathon.

Burning Leg Muscle Pain

From mile 21, my running power fell from 343 watts to 270 watts (11:12 pace) in mile 22. Then, I felt an intense burning in my leg muscles, and I stopped. The muscle pain felt so bad I could barely walk.

What I experienced was probably lactic acidosis caused by intense exercise.

For the next mile (23), I walked in agony at a pace of 21:37, and I thought I might have to walk the next 3 miles.

Tabithia to The Rescue

At mile 24, Tabithia walked up to me and asked how I was doing. After sharing my story, she asked, “Can you swing your arms?” We started powerwalking together for about a quarter mile. Then, she asked, “Do you want to try jogging to that traffic light?” Incredibly, my legs started working again.

I told her, “I could do whatever she could do.” She said, “Deal.” We jogged together for the next three miles:

  • Mile 24 at 15:54
  • Mile 25 at 10:38
  • Mile 26 at 11:45

Running to the Jacksonville Marathon Finish

With two-tenths of a mile left in the marathon, Tabithia told me she was stopping, and I told her I would keep going. She encouraged me by saying, “Go, Brian!” I ran 3/4 around the Bolles School track, finishing in 4:40:07. Tabitha Hung finished exactly forty seconds later and won 2nd place in her under-19 age group.

I placed 19th out of 29 marathoners in my 45-49 age group. This race proves I can finish a marathon without hospitalization by hydrating at aid stations during the race.

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