Saucony 26 Strong Finisher: Dale Arakawa

Dale Arakawa, 48, of Long Beach, Calif., and member of Team 1 completed his first marathon in Long Beach this month. Arakawa, along with his veteran partner Chris Spensley of Newport Beach, Calif., are part of the Saucony 26 Strong project, a collaboration between Competitor and Saucony that pairs a veteran runner with a first-timer to train for a fall marathon.

Dale completed his goal race—the Long Beach Marathon—on October 13, and offers the following race report about his experience.

“It was a day filled with victory for completing my first marathon, but at the same time, I felt plenty defeated! While it was an overall fantastic first experience, grinding my way through the marathon with an injury ultimately turned into a not-so-enjoyable pain circus that I had to endure.

“My race started out great and I was flowing smoothly through the first 10 miles until my hamstring issue began to rear its ugliness around mile 10. At each ensuing mile, my hammy pain became progressively worse and, to compensate for the pain, I slowly began to change my running form and posture with each step. As many of you have probably experienced, when you start favoring an injury, it begins to affect other areas.

“It ultimately became a chain reaction of, ‘Which body part gets to cause Dale pain now?’ Because I started favoring the hammy, I was striking down my left foot fairly hard which started softening my ankle and ultimately began causing me extreme ankle pain. Then, because of the hammy and ankle pain, I started favoring my whole left leg, and now relying wholly on the strength in my right leg to propel me. Well, around mile 19, that turned into a massive cramp in my right lower quad muscle, which, as Chris Spensley witnessed, stopped me in my tracks.

“This I most definitely had to stop, massage and then walk it out a bit. After walking, I would try and run again but it only took a mere 30 seconds or less before that quad would cramp up on me again. What made it even more fun (definite sarcasm) is that the muscle cramps would move from upper quad to lower quad to butt muscle to calf muscle and it just kept finding a new muscle to play with, all in my good non-injured leg.

“Well, because of my now deformed Quasimodo-like running form, I also began to jar my back with every other step. Needless to say, all of this was messing with my head a quite a bit.

“I knew that all my fellow 26 Strong teammates were going through their own stresses and struggles, so with pain radiating from top to bottom in my left leg and muscles cramps rotating thru my right leg, I ‘warriored on.’

“At the end, my time ended up around 5:13, 2:08 on front half and 3:05 on the back half. While I was hoping for and certainly trained for a much better time, the pain circus most certainly made my first marathon an absolutely unforgettable experience, which I will treasure forever!!”

Congratulations Dale on toughing out the first marathon!

To read more about Dale, Chris and the rest of the Saucony 26 Strong team, visit 26strong.com.

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