A Mighty Challenge; the Juneau Alaska Marathon

Written by Dr. Derek Larsen DC

Last Updated on April 15, 2024

I started writing this post back in May when I signed up to run the Juneau Alaska Marathon. This post is therefore written almost as journal entries from my training. This has been quite an experience so take a read!

May 7th 2021

Today I signed up for my first marathon. I am not a runner. Especially a distance runner. Currently I sit at 5 foot 10 inches 200 lbs, five months ago I was up at 220. When I weighed in at 220, The biggest I had ever been, I decided that I couldn’t get any bigger and needed to drop at least 40Lbs. I’ve plateaued a few times in my weight loss journey, but have seemed to keep on track for the most part. My motivation has been quite vain, I want to be better looking in my eyes. My love for food was finally trumped by a desire to look better. Then as things got harder I needed better motivators. My next favorite motivator has been hunting the elusive mountain goat, consistently. I know a few people who have harvested a goat but I don’t know anyone who successfully harvests them consistently. This gave me some more motivation to get into shape but that goal seems far off because I need to become an Alaska resident to do so. Attaining Alaska residency takes at least 12 months of living in the state. With that goal in mind, I set a short term goal. Run a marathon. I considered this thought as rich self deprecating humour and laughed out loud at it. Then I did a little research to see if there was one in the area and sure enough, the Juneau Alaska Marathon. I shoved it aside in my mind for about a week then decided it would never happen unless I signed up for it. Today, feeling fairly confident because I had run a total of 28 miles this week I pulled the trigger and paid the 70 bucks needed to register. You can bet I’m not going to waste 70 bucks and not at least give it my all. Here we go.

July 26 2021,

5 days and i’ll be toeing up to the line to run my first marathon. My longest run has been a 20 miler and I felt good, I was ready for more. I have put in a few 40 miles weeks and I weigh 180lbs (179 if I were being picky). I feel great. Except for my right knee. It has been barking at me trying to tell me that I have something going on. I haven’t quite figured out what’s wrong yet but I am taking precautions to avoid long standing damage. The same thing happened to my left knee probably 3 weeks ago. I babied it, I cut down on the amount of training I was doing, I was taking collagen supplements and of course I got that knee adjusted by my chiropractor. Now that knee is doing just fine. I am a little worried about my right knee. It is just too close to the race and It is still hurting. I was planning on running today but didn’t with hopes that a little more time off the knee will allow it to heal. Maybe I will run tomorrow to get a few more miles in before I race. We shall see. A few other thoughts I’ve been having recently have been about what my body looks like. The vain goal of looking better is still there, let’s be honest, that’s why 90% of us buy treadmills and have gym memberships. I will put in a few pictures so you can see where I was and where I will be on race day. I can honestly say that I am in the best shape of my life. My average run is 8-10 miles and I don’t get wildly sore after. My resting heart rate right now is 40 BPM and it has been dipping down into the 30s. When I started tracking my resting heart rate I was around 55-60 BPM.I am also in the gym 3-5 days a week to keep a bit of a balance. Then of course there are all the outdoor activities that I am able to take part in here in Juneau. All that being said, I am still nervous about the race. The nervousness I feel is a good one, I feel like I’m about to step out onto a wrestling mat to take on a challenger, or I am in the locker room before running out under the stadium lights on the football field. The difference now is that my only opponent is my old self, he is the only person I am trying to beat.

July 30th, 2021,

I run tomorrow morning at 7:00am! All my training culminates in a 4 hour block tomorrow. The goal is to run the 26.2 in just under 4 hours. That’s the pace I have been training at and that’s what I’m going for. I have a fueling system set up, i’ve got my clothes picked out, i’ve got my running pack ready i just need to get to the starting line. My right knee is also feeling great, I did a 10 mile run on Tuesday to test it out and I did just fine. Only one problem. My right foot at the lateral cuneiform (right side mid foot) I have a constant boring pain. Yesterday the pain had me limping with every step. I got adjusted to Tuesday and that helped but it’s still there. Tonight I will get adjusted again but tomorrow I’m going to send it. There is nothing that will keep me from running tomorrow. Wish me luck. You’ll hear from me again when it’s all over with.

July 31st 2021

I start my run in 17 minutes! I haven’t been this nervous in forever, all I have to do is put one foot in front of the other for 4 hours then I’ll be done but I’m hella nervous.

August 4th 2021
I did it, I finished my run in 3:57:05 just squeaking in under my goal of 4 hours. It was hard. I knew it would be a mental game towards the end but I didn’t really expect it to be as hard as it was. When we lined up on the starting line I was nervous. I knew many of the runners had been there before and were going to be great. I had to keep reminding myself that I was only there to compete against myself. I wasn’t there to win a title but to accomplish a goal, I wanted to run my race. When we started I immediately jumped out in front of the pack and had to continually check my pace because I thought I was running faster than normal. I wasn’t running any faster than I had planned but I was in second place with my starting group. I figured I would be passed later during the race so it didn’t matter where I was in the line up. As we started the other thing I noticed was that my foot was hurting. The first step of 40,560 steps felt like I had something boring into the outside of my foot. I was not excited about that feeling but I was going to finnish that marathon, There was no other option in my head. Luckily around mile 16 my foot was swollen enough that my injury had stabilized and my foot stopped hurting. That is a great example of how inflation works in our favor to protect us but will go into that more in a later post. Apart from my foot hurting I was doing really well. When I crossed the finnish line I drank some water, walked to a shady tree and laid down. I felt like I could just fall asleep. I was excited but too tired to be excited. After I cooled off in the shade I just went home. I didn’t stay for the awards ceremony even though I was pretty sure I took second in my heat. I had made plans to go fishing with some family that was in town and so I just left. Feeling content that I had accomplished this goal. That was really all I needed, I didn’t need the awards ceremony. The day after I was a little sore but not too bad, just my foot, which today has me limping around the clinic. I am excited for the progress I’ve made, but more excited to see how much more progress I can make, time to set some more goals for myself to see what else I am capable of.

Final thoughts

The overall experience was great, the training was fun and tough. Watching all the athletes compete was amazing and we had a beautiful day in Juneau for the run. I really need to thank my chiropractor at City Center Chiropractic for keeping me in the game as well. Dr. Baastrup has been a great encouragement and he has kept my spine aligned so I could continue training. I am so glad I decided to move up here, put these goals in place and become a chiropractor in Juneau, Ak.

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1 Comment

  1. J. Alex

    Way to go Dr. Derek! What a great inspiration and a great read, keep up the good work!

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If you liked this post, share it with your friends! It will really help my practice grow. -Dr. Derek