I haven’t really talked about it on my blog or fan page, but I’ve been training for a marathon since the end of May. I’ve been running since November of 2009, and after running the distance of a half marathon (13.1) and loving it, I decided I had to run a marathon. So, I signed up for it in January so that I couldn’t back out of it.
The training had its ups and downs. Although I love to run, and I love the adrenaline high that long runs bring, what really put a damper on training was how much time it took out of my schedule. During my heaviest week of training, in which I had to log 40 miles, I spent about 8 hours on the road. Admittedly, 8 hours isn’t a huge chunk of time, but when you add the hours to my other commitments, I felt like I had no free time during the end of August and September. Because of this, I was pretty excited that the marathon had arrived, but I was equally excited about finally doing the ultimate long distance race.
The day before the Maine Marathon Tony and I drove down to Portland to stay with a family friend. I kept checking the weather for Sunday was bummed out that the chance of wind and rain was 70%. I was never nervous about the race, but rather worried about the fact that I’d have to battle the elements for five straight hours. I was afraid it would be a miserable experience.
And then, to add to that worry, the night before was chaotic– it took us at least an hour to find a restaurant that didn’t have a long wait for a table, and then Tony suddenly felt really sick. The whole evening felt like a bad omen, and I’m not one to believe in bad omens. We finally made it back to the house we were staying at for the night (thanks Mona and David! :) ) and I fell asleep almost instantly.
I woke up at five, had my traditional pre-run breakfast (oatmeal with peanut butter mixed in), and had some Gatorade (kind of gross at 5 in the morning!). It was raining hard outside. It was a bummer, but what could I do? I was going to run the marathon, no matter what.
We (my parents and Tony) arrived at the race, and I instantly saw some familiar faces, which included my old writing teacher and now my husband’s colleague, Emilie (who was actually one of the people who inspired me to do the Couch to 5k program), and Libby (the first person I ever did a portrait session for). It was great to see them all, and it made me temporarily forget about the crappy conditions. Here’s a photo of us all standing around before the start– notice how wet we all were. I had only been standing there for about 10 minutes at that point.
Right before the race began I saw a familiar face– Pattie, an old high school friend who began running a year ago. We started to chat, and ended up beginning the race together. Because our pace was so evenly matched we stayed together nearly the entire time, except for a few brief periods of time. She was a fantastic distraction from the mild discomfort I was feeling in my hips, quads, and lower back, and I knew that, after this marathon, I needed to find a running buddy for future marathon training. Pattie, come move to Bangor! You know you want to!
At mile 20, my dad joined us, as planned– I had been fearing that I would hit the dreaded wall that many marathoners hit, typically at mile 20 when the body runs out of energy sources, so he planned to run with me in case I was running ragged. But I felt amazing at 20 and never hit any sort of wall at the end– in fact, I ran the last six miles at around a 9-10 mile pace. Dad acted as a fantastic rabbit and pushed me to the end, encouraging me to pass people, most of whom were running really slowly or walking. I was able to finish the race in a dead sprint, which inspired a man behind me to try and beat me. But I didn’t let him steal my thunder!
It was an amazing exerience. Before the marathon I announced to many people that I would never do another one, because the amount of training involved was so intensive. But it was so much fun that there’s no question in my mind– I HAVE to do another one! I’m kind of thinking about running the Sugarloaf Marathon.. but that would require doing long runs in the dead of winter, something I’m not incredibly fond of. So we’ll see.
Various other thoughts:
1. The crowd was amazing and incredibly supportive, despite the crappy weather. Some wonderful signs included the following:
-Pookie, it’s okay to poop your pants!
-Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.
-Because 26.3 would be crazy (or something like that).
-Worst parade ever!
2.The rain was never really a problem. I was somewhat miserable for the first mile but warmed up quickly, and once I was soaked, it never got worse except for the times that I ran into deep puddles.
3. I had been told that after the race I’d want to stuff my face with the junkiest food I could find. That never happened, which was kind of a bummer.
4. I’m a little worried now– how will I ever top running a marathon? I’m not sure if I want to take on a 50K, so I may just have to continue to run marathons and try to qualify for Boston. I need my adrenaline fix!
I kind of wish there had been some sort of epic struggle during the marathon, so I could have something dramatic to talk about, but it was easy and wonderful and I can’t stop thinking about how awesome it was!
So yes, more marathons in my future. Definitely more marathons in my future.