Originally written November 14, 2013, this is a training recap of my first marathon.
Wow, it is already race day. I am writing this as I wake up and prepare for my first marathon. I haven’t blogged over the last few months because my life has been crazy. Apparently, training for a marathon takes way more time than I anticipated. But – I have had many successful runs and I feel ready. I’ll let you know in the post-race blog as to if that really is the case!
I did a lot of things leading up to this race that I haven’t done in the past. Mainly, I joined a training group. That is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Each week they had three training sessions, but due to my work schedule I could only do long runs with the group. It was perfect to know people were waiting to see you Sunday morning and run long together. It made me get out of bed when it was raining, very hot, and there were even a few cold mornings! It also helped me do more than just survive my long runs, it became fun and there were many mornings where we were all setting personal distance records together. There is something really cool about being able to encourage each other by saying, “each step you take is a personal record, this is worth it!”
During the training, I learned that I am most definitely a morning runner. Sometimes, I would have to do my training runs after work or very close to my bedtime (6pm) and those were usually the worst runs. I would be tired, sluggish, and felt like I couldn’t hardly keep going for even a short 3 miler.
I started reverting back to more traditional eating. I was needing more carbs, or at least that is what I felt like. So I started eating more oatmeal and 9-Grain muffins from the bakery. All the work I have done to get more “fat-adapted” has pretty much been lost during my training. I don’t feel too bad about it, but being carb and sugar dependent does make me a little unstable when I’m hungry.
The first half of my marathon training was more balanced with running and weight training workouts, but as the miles got longer, I began to only make time for running. Only sometimes would I stretch and foam roll, and very rarely, every other week at best, would I do any sort of weight training. Mainly that would be in the form of squat breaks at work, walking lunges while out on a run or some push-ups before going to work. Toward the end of my training, I could definitely tell my muscles were weaker, I had endurance to keep running but I didn’t feel as strong. My personal perception is that my body composition changed during this experience, my hips widened and my butt flattened out. I was extremely lucky that I did not gain weight during training, but I worked very hard to not over-eat on non-training and low-mileage days. Keeping my carbs down also helped, as I was turning to veggies and protein as much as possible to keep me full.
Training for the marathon was a huge mental and physical feat. On the days I was having bad runs, whether short or long, I would keep telling myself that this is how the end of the marathon would feel. That I would have no choice but to keep going, keep running and finish what I started. As the mileage increased, hitting personal records was fun one week and terrible the next. The 14 mile run was not terrible, but not great. The following week, after running 16 miles I felt much better, physically. My body didn’t hurt as bad and mentally I enjoyed the run.
Running 18 miles was tough, but with the help of my running group, I was successful in completing my goal. We ran about a 10 minute mile pace for the first 14 miles or so, with a few stops to re-group, go to the bathroom, etc. Around the 14 mile mark, some of the group fell off the pace and three of us set out to finish our run. There was some joking, lots of fantasizing about breakfast tacos and mutual encouragement to keep the others running, even though we all wanted to quit.
My least favorite part of marathon training was my 20 mile training run and the 20 mile “race” put on by my training group. The day we were scheduled to run 20, I decided to get some sleep and just go for a short 5 mile run with Pearl. So I set out on a Monday morning to run 20 miles, and it was pretty disastrous. I had to stop right at mile 3 for a potty break and then felt pretty good until mile 8, where I almost immediately needed to find a restroom. I got to the bathroom at mile 9, and (TMI alert) proceeded to stop for much longer than I would have preferred. After that stop, I was ready to go, and good until mile 14, where I was feeling like I needed more water and a Powerade. It was a hot day, and although I had my camel pack, I was definitely running low on fluids. I had to circle back around to a gas station, fill up with ice and water and buy a Powerade. When I set out again, I felt the weight of the water but had energy until about mile 17, then it was just painfully slow and tough to keep going. Ben called me at mile 18 and I requested he come pick me up because mile 20 was going to be 2 miles away from our house. I couldn’t bear the thought of walking one more step past 20 miles. It hurt to walk but I could barely keep running, so I would run and then walk a little all the way until I finished 20 miles about 100 yards from the Alamo. Ben was there to pick me up and I was so relieved it was over!
I am pretty embarrassed to say that from about miles 16 to mile 20, nothing good came out of my mouth and my thoughts were pretty bad as well. I was cursing everything from the pavement to my camelpack to the person who decided I should run a marathon (yes, I was cursing myself).
Lucky the 20 mile race was better and I felt more prepared for the marathon. The last crazy mental feat was exactly one week before the race. I had run 4 miles and 6 miles earlier in the week and figured we would run about 6 miles to keep it easy before the race. Then my coach told me I should run 10 miles. I only had one RehydrateGEL on me, and I almost didn’t eat breakfast because I figured we weren’t running long. I decided I would just see how I felt at the 6 and 8 mile turn-back points, but then I realized this was my last test before the marathon. Could I run farther than I thought? Could I run farther than I was mentally prepared to run? Could I push past my mental limitations and rely on my past training, knowing I could easily run 10 miles? And I did, with the help of a few running buddies of course.
How could 6 months of running, training and racing already be done? Race day is here (and gone by the time I am finishing this!) and I am going to be a marathoner.