I've really been debating whether or not to share my marathon experience here on the blog or not. Mostly because I know readers can get exhausted from hearing fitness stories and updates....however, when trying to decide about this post I asked myself,
"why do I blog? What is the purpose?"
And while, there are many reasons why I do this, one of the reasons I love it so much is because I get to share my story. Whether it be creatively, emotionally or physically this blog is about what makes me me; It sheds light on who I am as a person and how I live my creative life.
And the truth is, running has truly inspired me. I previously shared by weight-loss and health goals on this post here. In a nutshell I hadn't planned to run a full marathon, but that I hoped to run at least a half-marathon.
To my surprise I began to love the breath of fresh air, the stress relief that running outside had to offer, and the pure calmness of feeling at one with the outdoor surroundings as I trained with my younger sister. I completed my first-ever half-marathon last summer, earlier than expected. I shared my half-marathon experience here.
Soo....I was hooked. To running outside. I fell in love with the freedom & challenge of each little hill and the camaraderie that came with spending "quiet" time with my sister several times a week. I continued with the Saturday marathon training and actually did it!
Here's a side-by-side comparison of Nicky (my younger sister) and I at the finish line of each the half and full marathons during 2012.
The marathon was just over 4 months ago, on Sunday, October 7, 2012. Physically & mentally this is definitely in the top three hardest things I have ever done. in. my. life.
I had set a goal to try and and run without stopping until mile 19 or 20. Logically this made sense because during the training I had accomplished the 18-mile run without stopping and was okay. So I thought I'd push myself to mile 19 or 20 because the natural progression and endurance should allow me too.
The morning was crisp. And so, I had a hard time keeping my body physically warm. Because I had built up the endurance the run and distance itself was absolutely attainable. I didn't have a ton of sweat because I was trained and ready physically. The sweat I did have stayed pretty cool/cold on my body which really made my muscles harden over time. I started to struggle at mile 17. I couldn't believe it. I didn't even make my goal. I was mentally disappointed and that was really tough to get through mentally.
"Why can't I keep going? I've ran 17 miles before? What is happening? What the hell am I doing this for?"
Needless to say, after passing several handwritten "support" signs saying things like "Run Faster I just Farted" and "Remember, you Paid to run this far!" I started to have some very serious come-to-Jesus-conversations with myself, including hating running and hating what I was doing....which just killed me because I haven't felt this way during the 16 weeks of training leading up to marathon. What was happening to me mentally?
At mile 18 it definitely became a mental game. I still had 8 miles to go. That's more than an hour! "Can I do this? What if I don't finish. Everyone said this would be the easy part after enduring all the training. wtf?"
I wasn't tired, that wasn't the problem. THE PROBLEM WAS THE PHYSICAL PAIN. The pain in my hips and my feet was pain that I hadn't once endured during training so I just didn't understand it. Why if I have ran 17 miles before with no pain am I now feeling pain? What am I doing different? Why is this hurting? Why the heck am I doing this anyways? At that point it was just really hard to not listen to your body.
I think the hardest part was at this point, when I began the walking-and-then-running....walking-and-then-jogging pace that really started to ware on my body. Because of the crisp air and the fresh sweat on my body, as soon as I stopped running my muscles would harden and my sweat would cool off and I'd become cool and stiff. To begin a slight jog or even run after slowing down was painful. At one point I was jogging so slowly I thought I was walking. LOL.
But the end finally came! And.....I wasn't walking when I crossed the finish line....
I finished in 4 hours and 48 minutes. I was hoping to finish at least under 4.5 hours and that didn't happen. Overall, it's an amazing feeling to know I have done it. BUT, at that moment it was NOT an AMAZING feeling. It is just so ironic that after all the hours and hard training, that I was in so much more pain that I had ever experienced along the way. It truly gave me a new appreciated for my body in that God's creation is truly a wonder. How can my 28-year-old body be in so much pain while that 76-year-old man over there has run 4 marathons just this year alone! It's just an amazing thing, the human body.
The moments after crossing the finish line were really a blur. I couldn't find Steven, my sister or my family and friends that came.....I was just in a zone of pain combined with accomplishment and exhaustion. It's really quite hard to explain.
Eventually I found my peeps, including my man, my sisters and niece and our small group of friends that trained together with the Badgerland Striders Group.
I took the immediate 2 weeks afterwards off completely from any physical activity. After 4-5 months of intense training I felt like something was missing and found myself yearning to get outside to run....but I was still in so much pain. About three weeks after the marathon, and after doing substantial amount of research on "Life After 26.2/Marathon Recovery" I started running small amounts starting with 2 miles a couple times a week to ease myself back into it. But I was pretty sure I had a stress fracture in my foot. The pain was awful. Wierd tho...no pain while I was actually running...but severe pain afterwards.
I should have listened to my body and sat out longer, but mentally I felt "lazy"...how could I not workout for 2 weeks? I need to work out, I need to exercise.
Anyways, it honestly took me a solid 42 day to fully recover from the marathon. It wasn't until 42 days later that I felt and experienced no pain during a workout. Wild, huh?!
This winter I've been in the frame of mind to keep my endurance at a 4-6 mile level on the treadmill until the dreary days of winter pass by and I can start training again. Yup, you heard me right. I'm going to try it one more time this year! No, I'm not crazy. But, I think I can do better. I was disappointed that I didn't finished within 4.5 hours and would really like too.
2013 Milwaukee Marathon here I come. This time my lil' sis doesn't want to do it....I NEED SOMEONE TO TRAIN WITH!!!! It's been hard to get re-accustomed to a treadmill....so I've also joined up with my fiance to complete the P90X fitness program. We are just completing week 8. I've convinced Steven to train for a half-marathon with me....so once Spring turns a corner we'll be hitting the pavement together.
Well, if you've made it this far.....thanks for reading my story. If you're local and would consider training for the 2013 Milwaukee Marathon, the training begins in July and you have to be able to run a solid 35 minutes without stopping in order to begin. Message me if you'll consider being my training partner. It's so nice to have a friend along the way, to stay accountable, to relate too and to just have some support!
Here's to 2013 and another 26.2!