Monday, April 21, 2014

so you say you want to run a marathon...

Now that it's been two weeks since I ran my marathon, I think I can write about 
my experience without just saying
Because seriously, my legs hurt so bad after I ran the race.

I signed up for the north shore marathon in the middle of November. I think I was feeling particularly ambitious that day. It had been about three months since I had Stella so I was ready to really start working out and training hard. I missed intense workouts while I was pregnant. I wanted to sweat for a good reason like a hard workout rather than just sweating because I was pregnant. 
(I was a very sweaty pregnant woman). 
Marathon time! I was pumped. 

And then I started running.  It was agonizing! I once posted about how hard it is to get back into running after you take a break, and this time was even harder because I was running with a newborn. Thankfully, Stella is a good running buddy. 
But after a month of working up to it, I broke through the running rut and started feeling good! I was up to about five miles. 
And then Christmas break happened. I didn't go on a single run the entire time we were in Arizona (even though I got new running shoes for Christmas, oops). Instead I just ate a truckload of cookies. 
Good marathon training! 

In January, I started seriously training. It was a rough couple of weeks getting back into my running groove, but once I did I really started enjoying my marathon training. 
I ran almost everyday with a speed/interval workout once a week and my long runs on Saturday mornings. I pushed Stella in the jogging stroller for most of my runs except the speed workouts, which I did on a treadmill, and my long runs on the weekend when Stewart could stay home with her. 

I really loved my Saturday long runs. I had to get up before the sun came up to start fueling and pump Stella milk, but it was blissful running at sunrise. I ran on our town's bike path, on the highway, next to the beach, and through the shrimp farms.  I basically ran the same course for every long run but I would just add a couple of miles each week. 

I built up my mileage slowly so I didn't get any serious running injuries, which was awesome
(good job knees!)
The last long run I did was 18 miles three weeks before the race, and then I had to start tapering my training. I felt fairly ready for the marathon but I was super nervous. Sometimes I would think about it and my stomach would drop. STRESS!

Stewart ran the race semi with me. He took off for about the first 17 miles and then ran the rest with me. I can't decide if it was annoying or helpful. I joke. I love you, Stewart. 

The first 18 miles went pretty well. I kept my race pace and I felt really good. Then at miles 20, I hit the infamous wall. I read all about it; everyone say that you can never be prepared for how hard those last six miles are, and it is a serious truth. I kept getting slower and slower until I was basically just trotting along trying not to die. I thought I might die. I may or may not have cried a little at mile 23. 
It was just so hard! My legs felt so heavy and it started getting so hot outside and blah, I just wanted to lay down on the road and never get up again. 
At this point, I was definitely talking out loud to myself, saying things like "don't. stop. moving." And I was definitely wondering why crazy people like me actually pay money to go and run 26.2 miles. WHY.
If this sounds dramatic its because I felt so so dramatic when I was finishing the race. Stewart was running right ahead of me, telling me to keep going and that I was almost there. Spectators on the side of the road and in their cars were all telling me I was almost there, and to just hang in there! 
(It's almost like when you're birthing a child and everyone keeps telling you it's almost over. False. It is not. Just leave me alone in my misery. Okay, drama is done).

By the time I was nearing the finish, my legs were turning against me. They were on the brink of totally cramping up and I am so grateful that they didn't. When we turned into the beach park where it finished, in the grass there were these cones that marked out this little zig-zag loop thing we had to run through the get to the finish line. I'm pretty sure I yelled, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" and I probably cried some more.
Who knows, this part is kind of a blur. 

And then I trotted/limped/kind of ran across the finish line and suddenly it was over.
I finished the race in 5:09. My goal was to do it in under five hours, so what the heck, I'm happy with the time. I'm mainly just happy that I only walked through the water stations and ran the rest of the time. Pat on the back for me. 

After the race, I sat down and drank so much gatorade and I probably looked crazy and delirious because I was crazy and delirious. My parents were visiting and they were there with Stella at the finish, which was so much fun. Weirdly, you don't want to eat anything after you finish a marathon because you feel sick after. It's very disappointing because this is the time in your life when you feel like you actually earned the right to feast. Instead I choked down half a banana. 

I cannot even describe how sore my legs were after the race. My parents and Stewart can tell you how ridiculous I looked walking that week. It was a huge struggle going up and down the stairs.

At the end of the marathon and right after I finished, I didn't think I would ever want to do that again. But now that I've recovered and I'm even running again, I think I want to. I'm already thinking about the things that I would do differently during my training next time around (more speedwork, one more long run). Weirdly, training for the marathon was so enjoyable. And Stewart told me that the first marathon is the hardest to get through because you don't know what to expect. Well, now I know to expect a near death experience (partially joking) so I think I might be able to better prepare myself for that next time. 

I am really proud that I did it. Running a marathon is something that I have been wanting to do for years, so it feels good to accomplish that goal. And I think I just might be one of those crazy people that enjoys this kind of torture. We'll see. 

If you have ever even thought about maybe doing a marathon, you should definitely do it! You might read through my post and wonder why I would even suggest that since I made it sound like literally the worst thing in the world. That's because it kind of felt like it was the worst thing in the world at that moment when I was tired and hurting, but now I'm glad that I experienced it. I'm proud of this body of mine. Our bodies are capable of so much! 

So just do it. It's hard but you feel pretty unstoppable afterwards. 


  1. I LOVED reading this! Girl, I'm so so super proud of you. First, for even having this goal haha I could never make myself do this! And second for accomplishing it not even a year after having a baby! You're amazing!!

  2. As I was reading this I kept thinking, "Yes! I know that feeling! Torture!" Then I remembered that I only ran a half which is basically a fun run compared to this monstrosity. Also it's been two years and I haven't put on my running shoes since (PTSD). So you win, obviously. You are such an athlete and a true American hero! Please come back to the mainland and be my life coach.

  3. Haha you basically just described my marathon experience. Every single part of it. I swore a lot more and threw up when I tried to eat - but you get the gist. Next time, we run together. And we cross the finish line crawling in our favorite running video. because an Alaskan winter is our strength. Love you!