Welcome back, Joel! Joel is training for his first half marathon in several years, the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon. He ran through high school and college but stopped for several years when he opted for cycling instead. This year, his son has decided to join him and train. We have been following his half-marathon training journey and were excited to see if there was a half-marathon comeback success ending.
Joel and his son’s half-marathon was on October 22. His running revival has been one that has seen him defying age and a long hiatus. You can read the whys behind Joel’s journey and how he triumphed over illness and injury to reach this point, and his final long runs before the race.
Originally, Joel planned to participate in the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon as his goal race. However, he thought his work commitments would interfere, so he picked another race a few weeks earlier. Later on, he found out he could actually do both, so he and his son, Alex, decided to take on both challenges. Joel actually completed a half marathon 2 weeks prior and decided to better his time at the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon.
Training hasn’t been a breeze for Joel. He’s grappled with multiple injuries and illnesses, including a knee injury, COVID, kidney stones, and a bike crash. Yet, his determination never waned; he was dead set on crossing both the start and finish lines.
A few weeks ago, the father-son duo completed a grueling half marathon in 86-degree heat, both finishing in under two hours. While his son Alex battled some stomach issues and clocked in at 1:59:31, Joel finished at 1:57. They bounced back nicely from that and aimed for personal records at the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon.
What Was Your Goal For The Go! St. Louis Half Marathon?
I aimed to beat my recent time, but I also had a secret goal to run under 1:54. You see, 15 years ago, my half-marathon training buddy achieved this after I had to bow out due to an injury. So, I’ve always wanted to outdo that. And guess what? Alex and I smashed it! I landed 5th in my age group, and Alex was 15th in his.
How Was Your Race?
The race itself was smooth, but let me give you the behind-the-scenes. Our day started at a groggy 4 am because we had to park miles away and then take a bus to the starting point. That morning, it was 40-42°F, and we juggled between staying cozy and dressing for the race.
The three races, 5K, 10K, and half marathon, all started at the same time with no corrals. That made the initial three miles a mad dash. The first 2.5 miles, featuring the race’s only big hills, were especially crazy. With no pacers or corrals, it was every runner for themselves.
Based on my previous half marathon and our recent training, Alex and I planned an 8:45-9 minute mile pace for the first half. We got a tad overexcited, clocking 8:31 in the first mile and 8:08 in the second. Once we got in our groove, we took it easy. However, around mile 5, we transitioned to a gravel path. It wasn’t too problematic, though I did hear about a few runners taking tumbles. The scenic stretch, enveloped by trees, was the best part of the race.
But by mile 9, Alex started having stomach issues and wasn’t feeling his best. It was just like the previous half marathon. We dialed back our pace, which, interestingly, was still 8:18. Later, he felt a twinge of pain and wanted to slow down even more, ensuring we had energy for the final stretch. Nearing the finish, I told him to give it his all if he felt up to it. He did and ended up beating me by three seconds. But racing alongside him, cheering each other on, was an experience like no other.
The Highs and Lows?
Alex found better nutrition strategies, which kept him from hitting a wall too hard. However, he didn’t get much sleep the night before.
He mostly relied on water, holding off on energy gels until around mile 9/10. I also goofed up my intake schedule. I’d planned to take a bit of my gel every 2 miles, but after mile 4, I lost track and didn’t refuel until mile 10. That’s probably why I felt so drained at the end.
What’s Next For Both Of You?
We’re thinking of just running for the love of it, without any target races in mind. It’s been so much fun to run and race with my son, and I’m proud we made it through 2 half marathons. Well, technically 3 because we ran another as a training run.