2) When training, plan routes and long runs accordingly – G was there for me a LOT when I had long runs as I didn’t know many people running at my pace or training the same distance. Other times, we were able to meet up with friends and plan out routes that each of us could run together even if they were different distances. It’s tough enough trying to figure out how to run 20 miles or 18 miles, so knowing what to expect long run morning made it much easier.
3) Florida summers are brutal to train through – I chose MCM because of the location, charity, and awesome race itself. Fall races always seem like a great idea, but thinking back to a 16 week training timeline, I failed to realize I’d be training through the dead of summer. That means a lot of 330am wake ups to avoid hotter temps, me getting a Camelbak (Women’s Magic Hydration Pack (70-Ounce) , and drenched runs where you can ring out your hair. I learned to adjust by wearing proper dri fit clothing, and less of it. Also, being sure to hydrate every 15 minutes, even if it’s taking sips – taking in too much at once caused my stomach to make funny noises. Hats and visors shielded the sun too. Those of you who have gone through this, feel me I’m sure!
4) Injuries are par for course – Until I got to my 2nd 18 miler, I felt AWESOME. No pains, no aches, no nothing! Then, I decided to get daring and try a bride-y run that left me with a Morton’s Neuroma in my right foot. Oops. I don’t necessarily blame the run, I blame my misconception that it was all smooth sailing. When I became fatigued, I started to lose my form. I should have rested more when I felt I needed it and kept an eye on my gait. Injuries can happen, particularly when you’re a newbie to those long runs, that’s for sure.
5) Rotating sneakers is a smart idea – G calls me spoiled. Yes, Brooks does spoil me. Even if they didnt, though, I would still see myself rotating at least 2 pairs of sneakers. Why? So I wouldn’t have to wait until I hit high mileage, then break in a new pair, and start that cycle over and over. Rotating a few pair lets you have more flexibility with mileage spread between those shoes. It did for me at least.
6) A.M. runs just work for me – With a busy work schedule and life in general, I found out that a.m. runs just work for me. I attempted some p.m. runs but felt that I did better with an empty stomach (emptier at least) and fresh legs. Besides, I thought most races started earlier in the morning too. When I knocked out my run in the morning, too, it was done for the day and didn’t have to be fit in at the end of the day. A.M. endorphins ROCK too!
7) Have a support system, you’ll need it! – Whether it was G riding the bike with me or running friends partaking in runs here and there or friends asking how training was going and rooting me on, support was VERY important through this whole journey. Yes, I knew that many people didn’t care to see my long runs posts or give two hoots that I was running a marathon. Point taken and completely understandable. However, having people in my corner kept me sane. Having friends who understood what training was like was a huge help when it came to venting here and there or asking advise on certain plans and strategies. If you have those around you who have been there, why not leverage that? Having a supportive husband was super important for me. He was up with me and understood when I wanted to crash at 8pm on a Friday night. I own him big time.
8) Sleep is VERY important – Before marathon training I’d try to at least get 6 hours of sleep a night. It was enough to get me through a workout and then work during the day before doing it all over again the next day. With training, came LOTS of fatigue and feeling tired ALL of the time. So, if I knew I had to be up at 3:00am for a run, I would get to be with enough time to get in 7-8 hours of sleep that night. Ah, REM sleep is the best especially for recovery!
9) I am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for – I ended up getting more in my head than feeling any physical pain or tiredness. That was the same when it came to runs and the race itself. I know that we all his our “walls” and you push through them, but I got down on myself before my legs even knew what hit them. I’m learning more and more to believe in myself – to stop thinking that I can’t do something or need a break before my body feels it. During the race I had to remind myself that I’d run 20 miles 3 times during training and was doing this race after running 7 half marathons previously. I have to keep reminding myself that I am a lot stronger than I tend to give myself credit for.
10) 26.2 miles demands respect – Self explanatory. When I hit mile 21 I learned that it wasn’t “just 5.2 more miles” ahead. I had to respect the total distance especially knowing I hadn’t run that total distance before. It was a whole new experience for me. Even with a ‘goal time’ in mind, I knew to threw it out and that finishing was more important than a time. The marathon is a whole different beast once you’re in the thick of it!
After thinking about it more now after the fact – yes, I would. Why? Because I didn’t feel I was 100% at this race. I had 2 injuries that had me take time off of training and also not train at my full potential the last 4 weeks. Also, I’d come down with some sort of cooties that made it tough for me to breathe in just-about-perfect weather. I also ran back-to-back races almost every month this year, averaging a half marathon distance, before marathon training. The smartest idea? Probably not if I have a time goal. I’d also rethink SUMMER training and look for a Spring race?
So, down the road, I’d love to give it another shot.
I did catch myself Googling races the other day – says the glutton for punishment.
What lessons have you learned from races, marathons?