by Jana Peale
My first marathon was a couple of weeks ago. My initial plan was to write this blog immediately after my marathon, but it took me this long to mentally recover from the experience.
Working at Salt Lake Running Company, it is commonplace to meet people that have done a marathon. Many have done several. Before running the marathon, I was nervous, but the wow-factor was missing. I knew I had not trained as well as I would have liked, but I also knew I was going to finish. I had little worry.
Let me tell you, running a marathon is a big deal.
According to a probably reliable website I found, 582,620 people finished marathons in 2013 between the United States and Canada. That’s like 0.167% of people in the countries (I did the math)!
Last week, I found out why so few people run marathons: they hurt.
I made a couple of mistakes that made it hurt a little more.
I went out 30 seconds per mile faster than I wanted to. I knew I was going too fast, but I got too nervous to slow down. I was afraid I would ruin my momentum or over compensate and go too slow. This is also after I had been told probably 297,438 times by everyone to be patient and start easy. At about mile 8, I started to feel the effects, then I really got worried. My pace started to falter at mile 10. Mile 13 I was in a full blown panic. I went through the half at exactly the time I wanted, but I knew I was slowing down from there. At that point in the race, I almost started to cry.
I think I hit the wall early.
At mile 14 a miracle happened! I saw my cheering section! I had my whole family there. My mom was yelling at the top of her lungs, my brother was standing there looking bored, my boyfriend cheered, and my dad recognized my panic. He asked me how I was feeling I threw up a thumbs down sign as I ran on. I realize this wasn’t a life changing moment, but it helped. Seeing everyone there supporting and having them know I was in pain helped a lot.
After that, I stopped worrying about my time. I told myself to finish the race the best I could, so I slowed down for a bit. Then mile 16 my knees started killing me. I have had knee pain on and off for the last year and like the responsible runner I am, I ignored it. The pain came on hard. Naturally, when my knees started hurting the course turned downhill, which was not pleasant. So, then I slowed down more than I would like to admit. This point in the race was frustrating because I was starting to get a second wind. My breathing was great, my muscles were doing ok, but I was afraid to push my knees.
After 6 miles of pain, my knees started to feel better around mile 22. I also saw my family again and had my last gel. You could call it a late race turning point. The small number of miles left motivated me and all I wanted to do was finish. Those last miles felt the longest, but were back to the pace I wanted to run in the first place, which was nice.
I crossed the finished line, high fived the guy that finished near me, and was overcome by how tense my muscles were. As I hobbled through the food line, picking up fruit and protein shakes I knew there was no way I could manage to eat at that moment.
I thought everyone was crazy for ever doing more than one marathon, ever.
An hour later, I was still in pain. I was sore everywhere, but I was already thinking of what I would do differently for next time. Apparently, my memory was real short term because I already want to do it again. I learned a lot from my first marathon.
Next time I will run the pace I trained for and I will respect the distance more.
It’s doable and I think everyone that has ever wanted to do a marathon should, but it be prepared.