What I Learned from Running a Marathon

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Well, marathon #1 is in the books.  Yes, some people (and even myself) questioned whether this would be a 1 and done.  I swear there were days during the process where I told myself this was it.  Then there were days where I couldn’t wait to plan the next one.  I guess that’s just the addicted runner mentality, right?

I had  my family come into town on Friday, ate dinner with Meghan at the Meatball Shop, and ran with the #werunsocial crew on Saturday morning.  Even though I picked up my bib with Ali on Friday, I went back to the Expo to show my family around and purchase some race swag.  It turns out that going to purchase gear earlier in week at the expo is the way to go.  By the time we arrived, it was mass-chaos and there were no decent sizes left in the jackets.  I did manage to find the LAST jacket size M and came out with an excellent discount thanks to my NYRR membership.  I’m talking going from $140 to $94!

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The race day itself was perfect.  I took a bus from the Essex house down to Staten Island. Because I was volunteering for TCS, I had access to porta-potties with shorter lines + coffee/breakfast.  In the end there wasn’t much time to sit around and I took a water as I jogged over to the corrals.   Something I didn’t prepare for on race day was the heat.  We ran a ton of our training runs in the heat (hello summer) but man, the 55F was deceiving.  I  had to take Gatorade and water at every single mile station (except the last 2 miles) and was very surprised that I didn’t cramp.  Thank goodness.

It’s well known that the corrals close 30 minutes prior to the start.  I definitely didn’t register how quickly that would happen until someone announced “5 minutes until wave 1 is closed”.  Juuuuust made it in Fuelling fashion AND ran into my friend Amrita! Love it when that happens 🙂

We waited on the start of the Verrazano Bridge for about 20 minutes and then the race was off.  Now I was scheduled in a MUCH faster corral based on a 5k time I ran last year.  I did my best to start off “slow” but that’s relative since everyone is over-eager and usually goes way too fast.  There was even a man who was not so thrilled that we “slower” runners were taking up too much space and made sure to yell to make himself heard.  Thanks dude, hope we didn’t ruin your race.

The New York Marathon hype is real.  I don’t think there was a single portion of the race that didn’t have people cheering or screaming for you.  I definitely should have had my name on my jersey but loved when the crowd screamed “Janji“.  I knew I should have a mantra or something to remember when I hit the wall, so that morning I wrote “Carpe Diem + Smile” on my arm.

Everyone told me to start slow.  I even told Amrita to go slow.  Then I ignored all of this advice and went way too fast in the first half. I was feeling so fine and every time I looked at my watch (using auto-split) I knew I was going too fast.  So it’s safe to say I did not get the Strava back half challenge.  I’ll just be purchasing my own New Balance shoes, thanks.

The goal was to hopefully break 4, smile, and soak in the experience.  I ran without music and took in each band (LOVED the drum-line and techno corner), each crazy sign, and all the cheers along the way.  I REALLY appreciated the folks who were yelling tips like “head up and shoulders back” because when the fatigue hits, all you want to do is bend over like you are running into the wind.

My family was AMAZING and found me in 3 different sections of the course – between my mom’s knowledge of the city, my dad’s ability to plan, and my sister’s amazing research and race knowledge (she may have known more about the course than me…).  They went out to Brooklyn, back to the Upper East Side in the 80’s, and mile 23 in Central Park.  I was so thankful to Lindsay for bopping around different places to cheer me on and loved hearing from some coworkers and old roommates who also appeared throughout the course.  I loved running through Mile 10 where our November Project group was situated and totally I would be able to recognize more people but it just felt like a whirlwind.

I started to falter around mile 15.  I had to stop and stretch three separate times (hello quads) and was then worried about my hamstring seizing up.  I was thrilled to get into the Bronx because as my sister reminded me, it was just a couple of miles and then back into Manhattan.  But man oh man, that mile 20 wall is SO REAL.  When we got to 22 and 23, I knew that I couldn’t stop. I wanted to walk so badly but had my goal in reach and let’s  be honest, if I started to walk, it was not likely that I would start running again.  Even if it was just a shuffle, I could do it.

Central Park.  My home.  It felt BEYOND good to get into that park because I knew the twists and turns and knew it was almost over.  I forgot that we exit at 5th Ave around the Plaza Hotel but then turned the corner, charged towards the Time Warner Center with the rest of my power and up the hill to Tavern on the Green.  It felt a little surreal to finish, but I made it with sub-4, an amazing accomplishment that I have to remind myself of.  Even better was that I was happy with my effort and I enjoyed the experience.

So here’s a funny thing about racing – I didn’t really train at the speed that I planned to race.  As a matter of fact, no matter how many times I realize this, I never have put it into action (besides Track Tuesdays).   I don’t think I’ve been in so much fatigue/pain.  But as a runner, I’m strangely addicted to the pain – knowing that I put in the effort and left it all on the course.

Things I have learned during the process:

  • You can never have enough glide.  Under the boobs and on the arms…I still had chaffage.
  • Pain is temporary and the training runs and memories last forever.
  • Say yes to bRUNch. I love catching up with friends in these manners and am blessed that my body enables me to be able to do this
  • I love training but also miss my strength workouts.
  • Core & yoga is key.  Definitely should have improved on that.
  • Booze does nothing for my body nor my mind.  But a post-race beer (after the chocolate milkshake of course) tasted pretty good.
  • Why was there so much chafing during this training?  I don’t recall chafing before.
  • Get the post-race poncho and stash your post-race clothes with family members.
  • Look for free engraving by JackRabbit on the Monday following the marathon!
  • Wear your medal…you DESERVE IT!
  • Running and racing are different.  I did not really train to “race” and sure felt it during NYCM.

Total Cost (or there abouts) for New York City Marathon 2016:

  • Race processing fee $11 + fee $216
  • Training hat $22.50 + shipping $8.03
  • Shoes #1 $120 + #2 $78
  • Expo Swag – Jacket $94 + Hat $13 (thank you NYRR discount)
  • Honey Stinger gu/waffles + Nuun (throughout process)

= $550+ (yikes) … “free fitness”

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I’m not finished with marathons but have fallen even more in love with the half-marathon distance.  I plan to take the next couple weeks off of running buuut did happen to sign up for a few races ranging from a 5K to a North Face Marathon relay (only 6 miles for my part).

“That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.” – Kara Goucher

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12 thoughts on “What I Learned from Running a Marathon

  1. SO FREAKING HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!!! You crushed this marathon and I literally screamed at the top of my lungs when you passed me at mile 10. One day we’ll run one together and not worry about racing. Maybe we can hold each other back so we don’t die at mile 20 haha

  2. Its been 3 years since I ran my first marathon, and its still my only marathon. I ventured into the triathlon world and this summer I’m committed to actually training for a half marathon. Maybe….I’ll be doing my 2nd marathon in the next year or so. But I’m rocking a 5:59 finish currently, so I’d be pumped to just get it to the 5:30 range, you are crazy fast girl!

  3. Pingback: Life of Late ~ 11.18.16 | California Endless Summer

  4. Pingback: Cheers to 2016 and Onward to 2017 | California Endless Summer

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