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Saucony 26 Strong Finisher: David Wilson

David WilsonDavid Wilson, 50, of Mission Viejo, Calif., has a job helping other people get fit as the director of parks and recreation for the city of Tustin, Calif. Now he can add another accomplishment to his resume: marathon finisher.

Wilson finished the Long Beach Marathon last month in 4:28:36 to complete is first marathon. Wilson, along with his veteran partner Laurent Vrignaud, of Newport Coast, 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.

“My first marathon experience was great!” says Wilson. “The Long Beach Marathon was well organized and I enjoyed the course, especially racing near the ocean. I also recruited my family to coordinate a special aid station for me at mile 20 which got them involved in the experience. I would describe my overall experience as special and something I will never forget. I feel finishing the marathon is a significant accomplishment in my life that has humbled me; yet has made me stronger.”

“David’s a tough cookie and ran an impressive sub 4.30 for his first marathon,” Vrignaud said. “He always respected the training and the distance.”

The Toughest part of the race for Wilson came on the hilly section of the course around mile 17. “I ran through it but I could tell the hills took a little starch out of my legs, and I felt I lost a little momentum there,” he said.  “Miles 21 – 23 were difficult because my legs felt sore and heavy, I never felt leg weariness to that extent before, but again you just have to tell yourself to keep moving forward.”

The most surprising part of his first marathon?

“The exhilaration you feel seeing the finishing line ahead of you and crossing the finish line,” he said. “It was very powerful and emotional. I was surprised how emotional I got immediately following the race. I was pumped-up one minute and tearing-up the next.  The other surprising thing about the marathon was how you are able to push your body forward through the trauma of the final miles, especially your legs. The human body is amazing and resilient.”

Wilson credits his mentor in helping him stay on track with his training.

“Laurent kept me from making major mistakes by monitoring my training and mentoring me,” he says. “He hooked-me up with Run Your Potential, and I trained two days a week with them. Tempo runs on Thursdays and long runs on Saturdays. It’s a great group of people who encouraged me.  I asked a lot of questions and they gave me great advice.

“The only thing about the training I would do a little different is to start my taper a little earlier to see if I could get to the starting line with a little fresher legs,” he said. “I started my taper two weeks out. During the race I felt I did as good as I could for the first one, however, I felt I ran a little cautious and careful since I did not know what to expect in the later miles. I was also nursing a sore left tendon. I think I could have run a little more assertively—something to try out for the next one.”

Congratulations David. And glad to hear you’re already talking about the next one.