Gulsum Ozturk Rustemoglu
Nov 17, 2020


You just don't want to be around me the day before a marathon, especially, if it is a BQ performance expected race. Am practically a different person, feeling very depressed, confused, curious, upset, scared literally up until the race starts.

It was the same feeling at the bus stop to Mt. Charleston on Saturday the 14th. I had intentionally stayed at a different hotel from my family since I need total isolation the night before a marathon. I spent the entire bus ride to the start area, sleeping, looking outside the window, and wondering to myself how it would go in this cold weather and if it would get warmer towards the end. Only wondering, nothing else. When I get to the start area, it's pure focus, and concentration as the RACE starts. Here’s how it goes...

Mile 1... Hi, uphill start at 7660 ft. Mt. Charleston. I knew this tiny hill start was there thus, no surprises. Am taking it slow like a turtle!

Mile 2... Wow, this is really downhill. Looking good, but, my lips are dry. Let me get a sip from my water. It’s at that moment I lose one pair of my warm gloves that Amazon just delivered two days ago. Turning my head back I said farewell to that one pair. Will ask for a refund from Bezos!  I then take one of the hand warmers from my C cup, even though it generally looks like a D cup that typically becomes a huge barrier to my marathon paces.

Mile 3... OK.  Shit I am still running at a conservative pace. Hope my coaches and friends are not freaking out!

Mile 4... Where is that other tiny hill? After the 1st quarter mark, they will see that I will be cruising shortly.

Mile 5... Oh, the parking lot loop that I had to stop at to get my first gel because I put too much toilet paper in my running belt, more than the gels!! What was I planning to do! You know this year of toilet paper hoarding year! Cannot find the gels and the volunteer looking at my toilet papers probably wondering which mental institution I am running away from!

Mile 6... Now at the 1st quarter mark, if my coaches see an average 9:09 pace, not sure what they will think, but the pace has to hit 8:30 pace, hopefully. That is the goal, right. Let them scare a bit.

Mile 7... Then the real race starts with 8:15 pace. Smooth cruise.

Mile 8... Hello are you still at 8:15 pace. Nice.

Mile 9... Holy shit! The course is really fast.

Mile 10... Cruise control, check. Breathing, check. Heart rate, check. Time? Holy cow! It seems I never added “time” to my running watch data screen! I am running only based on current and average pace!

Mile 11... Wow! If the course continues like this till mile 21 where everyone hits the wall. Go for it. But now another gel time out for the remaining stash of toilet papers!

Mile 12...Then another voice says, "Slow down woman! You will pay the price at the end otherwise!" 8:30 pace good...

Mile 13... Then comes "Gone with the wind!!!" Seriously the tailwind literally pushing me forward. What the fuck is that! 8:17 pace again...

Mile 14... Oh man!! The gel effect took me to 8:05 pace!!

Mile 15... Oh well, enjoy it now, as you will hit the wall on Mile 20 anyway!

Mile 16... What? Garmin shows a message from my son! Gosh, don't tell me he is asking me again where his other pair of socks is while I am running a marathon!

Mile 17... Hello! Who are you? Running 8:06 pace? You forgot how you were ditching your tempos when they were 8 paces, now on marathon mile 17, you are dancing with 8:06 pace?

Mile 18... The Wall? No, not that Wall you are wishing for Mexico to pay for. It’s the Marathon Wall we are talking about here! Where are you? The race is ending. I am supposed to see you around here! Hello!

Mile 19... Another message shows up on my watch from my runner friend and the first coach. I bet he is saying "Don't Stop Me Now!"

Mile 20... Is my watch wrong or something? Is this per KM pace or Mile pace? 7:57 pace!! WTF is this?

Mile 21... Welcome to hell now Gulsum. The fun ended. Now it's the last 5 miles. Wait. What??? Another 8:01 pace?

Mile 22... It is over now girl! Say "Hello is it me?" to the Wall. Where are you? I am crushing with a pace of 7:59!

Mile 23... Oh, I see this infamous Mile 23 hill. What? A hill with water break. Another potty break while drinking water. No, obviously not in the porta-potty. I cannot waste a second! I am an expert on how to pee on yourself!! Will show you the "How to tutorial" later not now!

Mile 24... Wait only 2 miles left. You kidding me!!!

Mile 25... Now things have gotten serious. Control this mile and push the remaining gas! 8:16

Mile 26... The last mile!! The fucking last mile downhill again! 8:03

Mile 26.02... OMG! The last quarter with 7:29; overall 8:27 pace! I did it!!! Negative splits in running terms, running the second half faster than the first, and also breaking my Half Marathon PR within a Marathon! A freaking 8 min 25 seconds faster than the age group Boston Qualifying time, and my son, daughter, and husband were at the finish line! Are they my children? Is that my husband? Is this a dream to wake up from? Nope. All dreams can come true!

This dream is a combination of several key things such as;

1. Training religiously 55-60 miles a week
2. Easy runs easy; intervals you cannot ditch!
3. Quality Slow Long runs... you have to learn to run like a turtle in your long runs. If you like showing off your strava people how fast you run the long runs, guarantee no PR will come out.. At least 60 seconds to 90 seconds per mile slower long runs will be your secret weapon during the race. If not sure, refer to these recommended pace charts.

4. Healthy well balanced marathoner nutrition; if you are a marathon runner and not liking sweet potato; forget about PRs! And the beet juice, of course!
5. Massage... massage... massage with a massage gun!
6. Epsom salt bath and sleep after each long run!
7. Dream and vision your magic finishing time. Especially after each long run, finish to the finish line!

You combine all these, and you come back with no PR, money back guarantee! :)


  • Gulsum R.

    Thanks Donald! Congrats to you too! Heard a lot about Saucany Endorfin and curious to try.

  • Donald Rotanz

    Great job at Mt Charleston! I was able to PR there also. I would also add to your list to run in carbon fiber shoes. 9 of the 10 top finishers wore them. I would guestimate that they take about 7 minutes off your marathon time.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published