Let’s wrap up this little series, shall we? In May, I ran my first marathon. It’s taken some time for me to process the accomplishment. It’s kind of like any other big milestone – graduation, marriage, etc in that (at least for me) it takes some distance to really gain perspective to figure out what it really meant. You can check out my other two posts about training here and here.
- It gets easier, but is still a challenge. What I mean is, making running a habit, and sticking to your training plan becomes easy. It’s just what you do. If you follow a typical 16-18 week training plan, your longest run before the race will be around 20 miles. Those last 6 miles on race day, even with the crowds and the support and the pace groups were absolutely killer for me. So even though fitting in running became easy, the race itself was still a challenge.
- Choosing a race close to home has both pros and cons. I signed up for the Vermont City Marathon thinking it would be much easier to run a course I could practice on. Although it was definitely mostly nice to know where I was going next and what sections of the course were tricky, I also knew which sections I couldn’t stand and dreaded (which, unluckily for me, was the part at the end that I could have really used some happy thoughts). I think that next time I might choose a race in a place I’ve never been…
- Your time matters wayyyy more to you than it does to anyone else. I was slightly disappointed with my final time, but anytime I mentioned this to someone, they looked at me like I had five eyeballs. The accomplishment of finishing a marathon, especially your first one, totally outweighs the amount of time it takes you to complete it.
- Rituals/habits are totally okay! It’s not OCD or anal retentive to do the same things over and over prior to raceday. I ate the same food before every long run, took the same amount of water, wore (pretty much) the same clothes. On race day, when your butterflies feel as big as birds and your emotions are running high, it’s really nice to not have to think about what you’ll wear, what to eat, how much to drink, etc. Knowing that everything was the same really helped me get into the zone and quieted the doubting voice in my head.
- You are capable of much more than you think you are. Every long run was a bit scary… but pushing through my doubts and fears and learning to quiet the negative voice in my head made me realize that I can do anything. Fear, although an awesome evolutionary tool, should not dictate all of our decisions. Overcoming my fears and anxieties about running has paved the way to being braver in “real life” (like starting this blog!).
*Photo from the marathon, taken by my husband, Casey. I was surprised to see how happy I looked!