When I posted my marathon recap I made mention of reflecting on the journey but wasn’t at a place to do that just yet. Enter Thinking Out Loud Thursday! Thanks to Amanda at Running with Spoons for hosting. And I’m happy to see so many of my blogging peeps picking up on this (cough Sue, Lisa cough). I guess we all need an untargeted outlet once in a while.
It has been nearly a month since I completed my first marathon. I’ve taken more rest days than not over the past few weeks and feel like I’m still playing catch up with my life but I hear that’s normal (validation anyone?!) While I wouldn’t change this experience for anything and am proud to call myself a marathoner – I was and still am tired.
Part of that is tiredness is a result of other non running related things. However, when I reflect on my year of running the reality is – I’ve been marathon training for most of it. For 10 weeks I trained for Shamrock before falling to injury. After a 6 week layup I was itching to run again and in an abbreviated time span trained for the Pittsburgh half. The ZOOMA half came a few weeks later and then I shut it down for a month or so before my 16 week Marine Corps training plan began. If you’ve done the math that is 26 weeks/half a year of marathon training alone. Add to that the 2 months it took for me to recover then rebuild my base. Just typing that makes me tired.
Following injury all I could think of was “get healthy, get healthy”. The second my foot brace came off I was excited to run again. I entered the Marine Corps lottery on a post injury high (whim). The happiness I felt upon acceptance meant that I was going to get to finish what I started and run a marathon to celebrate 40 years. It also meant I didn’t have to travel!!
Overall the training process went just fine. I fought the blazing DC heat and humidity on some runs but for the most part it wasn’t a bad summer to run in. And to break up the monotony I did some travel and incorporated a few races into my schedule. There were a few things though that brought about some challenges. For the first time I’m actually admitting I was training scared.
My foot just felt “different” after injury and I was constantly worried about re-injuring it. My thoughts were focused on my form, my strike, and the shoes I wore. I also gained weight and while I tried to keep a personal training schedule, I lost some fitness (I tend to lift heavy to build muscle but abandoned that). As a result my speed suffered. My speed work was inconsistent and the typical 8:30-9 minute miles I had been building up to were replaced with 10+ minute mile runs. Then of course the knee tweak 3 weeks out of the final event. My average pace during the marathon ended up in the 12+ minute range. Going into my first marathon my goal ultimately was to finish but I did have a secret goal time I finished nowhere near.
Emotionally I wanted this run this year almost out of (personal) obligation. In all honesty though, I was not in the shape I would have liked to be in leading up to a half marathon let alone a full. On top of all of that some personal events added a load of stress I hadn’t expected to deal with during this process. Hindsight is always 20/20 but if I hadn’t gotten accepted into Marine Corps I likely would have rested until my March Shamrock Marathon deferral, though I did have other fall marathons on the short list.
All that said, you can train and train and train but nothing quite prepares for what race day may hold. You just do your best and see where the road takes you. I learned a lot about myself during this journey and absolutely respect the marathon.
Will I marathon again? Undoubtedly, yes (happy now Courtney? 🙂 ) but not for at least another year. If nothing else but to give my body the rest it deserves. Imparting the lessons I’ve learned, I’d love to come back stronger and healthier and see how I can improve. Building my speed back up is a major focus moving forward. My next big challenge is a sub 2 hour half marathon which I hope to accomplish at Shamrock in March and already have a training plan for.
My world won’t crumble if marathon #2 never happens or if I don’t meet my secret time goal but the challenge is definitely out there.
Have you ever considered running a marathon? To my marathoners, how did you feel about your first experience with 26.2? What made you decide to run #2 (or 3 or 4)?