Now a full week post-marathon, I've had some time to digest what I did and how I felt then and now. .
My first goal going in was to finish standing up. I accomplished that goal with flying colors.
How I did it:
Take it slow. Don't get caught up running someone else's pace. Don't think about how far you still have to go. Run one mile at a time. One step at a time.
I was worried that I would crash and burn if I started too fast. I didn't want what happened during my 22-mile training run to happen. I wanted to make sure I felt comfortable. I was comfortable if I wasn't breathing too hard, so I paced myself accordingly to make sure goal number one got accomplished.
The day after I was still on my feet, sweeping leaves off the deck and lugging loads of laundry up and down the stairs! Other than a tiny blister on one foot, I came out completely unscathed! My legs were a little sore (particularly my quads), but a good sore like after you have an awesome workout. Four days after I felt at 100% I will run again soon!
In addition to keeping a steady pace, I made sure to keep with my fueling plan of three Shot Bloks every 5-6 miles and drinking water at the next water stop. At one point, spectators were offering orange slices, but I declined. I had never eaten oranges on the run, and as good as they looked, I didn't know how they would affect the race. A little while later, some kids were offering water and Skittles. I love me some Skittles, but again, eating something I wasn't used to while running was not worth the risk, even though Skittles are one of my all-time favorite candies.
Stick with the plan.
Goal number two was to run a 10-minute pace or less. My final time of 4:24:01 gave me an overall pace of 10:05. That's pretty darn close. I don't think I vocalized it on this blog, but I had a time goal of 4:30. So I do consider goal number two a success.
Goal number one took precedent over any time goal for my first ever marathon. If I didn't focus on pacing myself I might have had a big DNF beside my name instead of a number.
That brings us to goal number three which might have been the most important - HAVE FUN!
And oh, I did. Even though I was holding back tears for the few days leading up until halfway through the third mile, it was not because I was sad, but because I was so excited about what I was doing...and the fact that I've got a lot going on in my life outside of running. Even the weather didn't get me down. Ranging from a mist to torrential downpour, it just made me smile even more. I started reading Zen and the Art of Running by Larry Shapiro just a few days prior to the race and one thing Shapiro talks about is mindfulness, right effort, and keeping a positive attitude. I couldn't do anything about the weather, so why not just embrace it, stay positive, and enjoy the journey. I do happen to like running in the rain...it's much better than if it was hot and humid. It's also pretty difficult to have fun if you are thinking negatively.
Everytime I saw someone I knew, it put a smile on my face. And to have Jen run with me for eight miles from miles 12-20 was just incredible. She was more than happy to just run at my pace, distract me when I needed it, walk the hills, fuel when I needed....whatever. It was just awesome. Thank you, Jen, so very, very much. I'm so happy that you were a part of this journey of mine.
Invincible. Grateful. Proud.
Yeah, a lot of people have run marathons (though it's really only .5% of the U.S. population according to Runner's World). A lot of people run them faster. A lot of people run even further than 26.2. But not everyone.
I love the marathon.
If you said I'd think that last year, I'd say you were crazy. Hey, even after my first half marathon this past April, I could not imagine running twice that distance. But I did. And I fell in love. Though I might reconsider that love after my next one. Yes, next one. Now that I know that I can do it, I want to see how fast I can do it if I push myself. I will qualify for Boston some day. It might be when I'm old and gray(er), but I will do it. I am sure of it.
That's what completing a marathon gives to you.