Anyone who’s spent time on Woodlawn’s campus in the past couple years probably remembers Zack Scott ’13, running (and sometimes hobbling) around our trail system. A member of our own cross country team since his 5th grade year, he even has a trail named in his honor. He’s run everything from the quarter mile to the 2 mile in track (and often times he doubled or tripled in those events) and of course he’s run plenty of 5k’s (3.1 miles) in his cross country high school career. And so it might not surprise you to learn that Zack recently completed his first marathon, The Chevron Houston Marathon. “It was the spur of the moment decision, really,” admits Zack. “I decided to register for the race in the summer and I sort of just got committed to it.” But 26 miles is a lot farther than three! “Yeah, about that,” he laughs, “the furthest I’ve run is a 10k (6.2 miles). I did not fully comprehend quite how long it’d be.”

Still, Zack stuck to his training program reaching his max long run of 20 miles. “It was a new level of sore I experienced,” he remembers. Following a program he found on the internet, he started training in mid-July. “I liked this program,” he says. “It justified the run lengths and talked a lot about the effects of marathon training like cell death, and how the immune system becomes compromised.” Despite intense summer and fall heat (he trained in Houston), he says it was relatively easy to stay on track. “I had a lot of support from my friends at Rice. Once you tell people you are doing it, you can’t easily back out of it,” he laughs.

When race day had at last come, Zack says he felt very prepared. “I knew I could run 8:30 miles because I had been training at that pace,” said Zack. “And I was somewhat confident because I knew it would hurt so there would be no surprises.” To stay fueled, he convinced his dad, who had flown down for the race, to make a 2:30 a.m. IHOP pancake run. “It was interesting to me to see how many people were actually in IHOP at that hour,” admits Zack’s dad, Mike. “Zack wanted pancakes 4 hours before his race, and so it was the least I could do for him.”

Going into the race, Zack says he thought of the 26.2 miles as two 10-milers and a 10k to help break the daunting distance into smaller chunks. “Ideally, that was great thinking, but after the first 10 miles, running another 10 at the same pace is not as easy as it sounded. And then you have another 10k on top of that. And a 10k is really a very, very long way to run!”

Zack’s finish time was 3:38:26, well under his target of four hours. “It went really well considering my foot fell asleep at mile four,” he recalls. “Eventually it worked out ok but running for 3 hours on pavement resulted in every part of my lower body hurting. ”

Zack’s finish earned him a 6th place finish in his age group, and a 1039th place finish overall (out of over 7,000 runners). “I expected to be sore the next day but getting out of bed was a challenge,” he says. “Luckily I did not have to go anywhere!”

His best advice for fellow marathoner-wannabes? Stay focused! He is quick to say that the importance of training should not be underestimated. “You can’t just wake up and do it,” he warns. The next marathon for Zack? “It’s pretty much off my radar right now,” he says. “There will definitely be some distance between this marathon and my next. I’ll stick to running some ‘normal-people-kind-of-races’, playing flag football, and keeping up with my classes,” he concludes.

Zack is a freshman at Rice University interested in biochemistry. He enjoys spending his time playing ultimate frisbee, flag football, swimming in an outdoor pool (in January), and keeping up with his class load. “The science classes are ridiculously hard here,” he says. “But my favorite is biology. I’m feeling pretty good about it.”

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