While I was thru hiking the Appalachian Trail last summer, I decided I wanted to train for a marathon post hike. The DC Rock n Roll was a natural choice, as it would require no traveling, gave me ample time to prepare, and is known to have a nice flat and high energy course.
I didn't plan out my training runs until January, because I was already consistently running 30 miles per week with 13-15 as a long run on the weekends. I increased my mileage every other Saturday by about 1 or 2 miles, peaking at 22 miles and tapering to race day. So my long runs each week went something like this: 16, 13, 17, 13, 18, 20, 16, 22, 15, 13, race day.
The super long runs really weren't as grueling as I thought! I normally don't listen to music when I run (weird, I know) but I started doing so when I was doing mileage in the upper teens. I listened to Les Mis in its entirety, General Conference talks, or whatever music came up on the shuffle.
Some people ask, "what do you think about during long runs?" This makes me chuckle, because a few hours of "thinking time" during a long run is nothing compared to the all day every day of thru hiking. Sometimes, among thru hikers, people would talk about what they had thought about that day. "Well, first I went through the entire movie of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", then I thought about what kind of food I want in the next town, and then I was thinking about my 6th grade science project. Oh and I couldn't get "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" out of my head, either. Yep, that pretty much covers it."
Oh right, this is about running, not hiking.
I didn't really experience any real pain problems during training. At first, I was running in my Vibram Bikila LS shoes until I started getting some tendon pain. It popped up pretty randomly after a fast 12 mile run- even though I had already done a few 16s in them. I begrudgingly bought a pair of Brooks Adrenaline running shoes and didn't have tendon pain ever again. After some runs, I experienced what I guess is shin splints, but it was a more dull ache than some of the descriptions I read online. It went away with ice and didn't present any problems.
For some reason, in my three week taper, I felt kind of sluggish and tired, even though I was drastically reducing my weekly mileage. Also, the day before the race, I started feeling some cold symptoms come on (really unusual for me- I rarely get sick). I really didn't think race day would go very well. Oh, and the forecast was in the 30s and rainy, so my expectations were kind of low.
The day before the race, Friday, I left work early and took the metro downtown to go to the expo. Originally I planned on running with a friend, but she developed some injuries during training and had to scratch. I wished I had someone to walk around the expo with, but let's be honest, I can be kind of a loner sometimes. I'm cool with it. I grabbed lots of samples, wished I had money to buy some cool products and gear, and got really intimidated by these moniters that showed a video of the whole course.
Okay, it seemed long just standing there watching it in fast speed. And I think I can run it?
Of course an awesome feature of the expo is the free samples. I love getting samples. I'm such a cheapskate, it's like a dream come true that I could walk away with enough little Larabars and GU to last for a while. I paid $100 to enter this race and I'm going to get my money's worth, dang it!
This was my first really big race with corrals and all the high energy that goes with it. Me and 30,000 other runners trying to use the porta potties, check gear bags, and get in the right corral. I made some friends in my corral, and before you know it the gun went off for the first group. Eventually it was our turn to start and I could not BELIEVE that I was actually running a marathon. I do this at the beginning of all races, short or long. I actually get a little emotional, just feeling so grateful and excited that I'm actually doing something I've prepared so much for. My wedding? Nope. But all of my races and big horse shows and randoms times of my thru hike? Yup.
One thing that is so cool about these big races is the spectator support. I wish I could've taken a picture of all the clever signs people were holding. Instead I'll turn to the Googles. And people giving out food! People who were not affiliated with the race organizers, standinging in the middle of the course with a platter of peeled oranges. Or sitting on the bumper on the side with a big bowl of gummy bears.
After a few miles I hit a good stride and time passed pretty quickly. Most of the other runners were doing the half, so it was a little humorous/annoying when everyone around you is saying things like, "Just 3 miles left! Almost there!". Yeah. 3 miles plus 13 more. Thanks for reminding me. Once the half runners split off, it was a lot more quiet and lonely.
As I've heard from every marathoner ever, mile 20-25 is just a KILLER. So close to being done, but still so far. Normally I don't walk at ALL in my runs. If I need to stop for something (getting some Gu out, adjusting clothing, whatever) I usually stop completely so my Garmin will stop. Then it doesn't mess with my mph average. :) But this race? Not so. I was doing everything I could do get to the next water station or mile marker to let myself walk for 45 seconds. I felt kind of dumb (isn't this a race? aren't you a runner?) but everyone else is doing it... so.... as long as there's no photographic evidence that I walked during a running race I'm good.
It's so funny to me the things that you think about to pump yourself up or convince yourself to get to the next mile. "Okay, 8 miles left. That's like your regualar morning run. You can totally do this! Pretend you're starting at the house. Okay, now you're turning onto Stonewall and passing the church." And later, "3 miles left. A 5k. Remember when you did a 5k in 22 minutes? Soon you will be totally done and can eat the biggest sandwich ever. And ice cream. Gotta get some ice cream."
When I got to mile 25 and could see the DC Armory in the distance as the finish line, I had all sorts of newfound energy and picked up my pace to get this blasted thing over with. In this stretch, I found my parents and husband to cheer me on. My mom ran a few tenths with me and then I (kind of) sprinted to the finish.
|the BEST supporters ever|
I love that I can officially say I'm a marathoner!