Confessions of a Reformed Marching Band Geek

Marathon: or a Crazy Episode of Survivor!

on January 20, 2013

Well I made it. I finished my first marathon. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, but it was enough to earn an awesome medal and the right to wear all of the marathon wear I purchased at the expo. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

1. Even Disney can’t control the weather. It was HOT. I mean steamy hot for the entire weekend. Sitting on my friend’s lanai, it was great. Running, not so much. All of my training in cool weather meant nothing there. I was warm before we even started. The fuel I brought with me only added to my distress as my body wasn’t ready for it in the same way it was on a chilly Chicago run. I’ve never been so happy to be handed a bag of ice at the finish!

2. My Garmin battery does not last more than 6 hours or so. I charged it up over night. It read 100% when I left. It stopped when I got to mile 22. Those were the longest four miles EVER to the finish.
3. My tunes don’t last that long either.
4. I need more songs on my running MP3. I thought I had PLENTY of music. When I run at home, it rarely repeats. This includes 5+ hours of running. I wasn’t as lucky during the marathon. It went into repeat fairly early and by mile 18 I was tired of the songs I brought and went with just the voices in my head. This is not usually a good plan, but I needed a break. Next time, more song options!
5. Ice and a cold pool can be my friend. I’d always heard of friends taking an ice bath after a long run or a race, but I never fully understood why until last week. We stayed with a friend who had a pool in her back yard. The last few miles it was all that I could think about. I was going to take off my evil shoes and walk straight into her pool. It was more like gimping and I needed help being able to lower myself to the water’s edge, but that icy water was the best thing I’d experienced all day!
6. Having a cheering squad (or person) can really help. When I ran my first half my training was similar to this round. I had an injury mid training which pretty much put me behind. It was really hot (but that one was in August, so it wasn’t surprising, but just as miserable). The difference was Mr Grumpy wasn’t there to cheer for me. I drove down with friends for the half, but they were faster than me so I told them to leave without me. I limped back to the train station (I was too cheep to get a cab), took the commuter home, and licked my running wounds alone. This round I told Mr Grumpy he was going to be there and he was going to cheer for me. It made a HUGE difference. I knew generally where he was going to be and had my phone with me (which was not always helpful as it over heated as well, but at least the battery didn’t die until I got to the car) so I could find where he was. I signed him up for runner tracking so he knew where I was. There were many miles where the only thought that kept me going was knowing that he was just ahead and I had to meet him there. I wish there were more people and more opportunities for him to cheer for me, but I was grateful for what I had!
7. Purchasing “I Did It” shirts at the expo before the race may or may not be a good plan. Disney was running out of marathon wear on only the second day of the expo. I really wanted a marathon jacket to commemorate my first time. It took a while to find one in the right size, but I finally found one. I also found a t-shirt proclaiming that I did it. I snatched it up quickly and happily paid for my purchases. For the entire race they haunted me. If I didn’t finish I couldn’t wear any of those jackets or shirts because I’d be a fraud. I HAD to finish so I could justify what I bought (see where the cheap thing continues?)! I guess it worked since I finished, but I’m not sure it was the best motivation!
8. Be happy with finished. I went in with the goal of finishing under my own power. I think I was only on fumes as I stumbled, zombie like, over the finish line, but I did it. I looked at my time and knew it wasn’t anywhere near where I was hoping. I didn’t even technically finish in the allotted time for the race (luckily that timer started after I crossed the start). I was not picked up by the “loser bus” and they gave me my medal so I’m taking it as good. I was completely bummed about my finish time. Until I talked with some nice ladies at the airport. They reminded me that we aren’t used to the heat and that we could probably take a good 30-45 minutes off our time in the next race. Then I remembered that when I moved from hot/injured races to cooler/healthy races I did take off that much time. It makes me feel better. A little.
9. The airport can be a place of unity. This was a destination race for us. The last time I did a destination race we drove so we didn’t see fellow runners along the way. Before that we went to Vegas for the Rock and Roll Half, but I don’t remember seeing anyone at the airport. This time the airport was FULL of runners! We all had on our jackets, sweatshirts, t-shirts, race shirts, and medals (OK, I only had on my “I did it” shirt. Well, and other clothes, but that was all of the marathon wear I had on. I thought about wearing my medal, but I decided against it at the last minute. I could have taken it out of my bag and put it on, but I didn’t really need any additional weight or unbalance for the day). It was great! We all talked about the heat, compared battle scars, and congratulated each other. I think I need that after every race!
10. Scheduling a half two weeks after your first marathon is not a good idea. I had kicked around the idea of a half this winter, but didn’t make a commitment because the one I usually run was the same weekend as the marathon. There was another scheduled and a friend and I decided that it could be fun. My training was going well at the time and I had an 8 mile recovery run on the schedule so I thought-why not! Bad choice. I’m still working on getting my legs loose enough for a recovery run, let alone a half marathon. We’ll see how this week goes, but I’m thinking no.

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