Even 5 years of running didn’t prepare me for my first marathon

I began running in 2007. This was before the iphone, instagram, garmin connect etc. This was just the beginning of the facebook era. I was just a teenage girl who simply wanted to get in shape. I threw on some sneakers and ran down the block and back. I didn’t bring a phone. I didn’t bring  watch. I just went outside and ran. I think I checked the microwave clock before and after my run just to see how long I had been out.

I never really told anyone I was running. I continued running because I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that happened after my runs. I didn’t know anyone who ran- I didn’t know what a marathon was.All I knew was that slowly, running was becoming ‘easier’ or maybe I was becoming stronger?

It was not a big part of my life. It was solely a form of exercise for me.

For the next 4 years, I continued to run. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t post on social media. I didn’t even have a way to track my runs. I just ran. I would never have considered myself a “runner”. I had no idea the distance or time I was running. I just ran.

In 2011, as a 20 year old college student, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and saw an update read something like:

Michael McLachlan has just ran 2.95 miles in 28 min using the Nike Plus Running App!

My attention was immediately grabbed. What? He runs? 3 miles in 28 min? Is that good? What does that mean? I wonder how far my runs are? I wonder if I can run faster?

My head started spinning. I NEEDED to get this Nike Plus app. I downloaded it on my iphone and went on a run. I discovered that I indeed could run 3 miles in well under 28 min.

This app lead me to more knowledge and opportunity than I ever dreamed. I wanted to be a runner. I wanted to fit into the running community. I started to identify myself as a “runner”.

I continued running and tracking my runs. I was just doing what I enjoyed doing. I was getting pretty fast. I had ran several 22-20 min 5ks. I really enjoyed running 3-5 miles. Sometimes I would get these crazy ideas in my head to do “long runs” of 10-13 miles. That was all I needed. I did not desire to go much further than 13 miles. It was very painful. It was hard!

As social media became more popular, the pressures of running the elusive “marathon” arose.  I cannot tell you how many times I was told ” you are not a runner unless you have ran a marathon” when meeting people for the first time.

I ran 40+ miles per week with a 20:59 5k PR, but I didn’t think I was really a “runner” because I had not ran 26.2 miles at one time.

The pressure became too much, so I caved. I didn’t really WANT to run the at the time marathon. I had something to prove to the world. I had to prove that I could run one. I had to prove I was a “runner”. I trained for it. I ran it. I got injured. I was upset with my time.

Reflecting back, I was not ready to run a full marathon. Sure, I had been running for 5+ year. Yes, I was able to complete the marathon. However, I was not ready mentally for the beast of 26.2 miles.

Now that it has been 3 years since my first full marathon, I have 13 more 26.2+ runs under my belt. I feel that I have learned a lot about myself and running.

How to know you are ready to step up to the marathon distance:

1- You find it fascinating/enjoyable to run for 2+ hours at once (sometimes doing it on accident)

2-You are okay with not setting a PR at every race all the time

3- You know how to recognize and cope with early signs of injuries and listen to your body

4- You have been running for over 18 months consistently

5- Running 7 miles does not sound like a difficult task

6- You run at least 25 miles a week

 

 

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Boston 2016 Race Recap

Since the LA marathon 9 weeks ago (3:23 finish on a hot day), my training has been very different from what it normally is. I had been running extremely high mileage (85-100 miles per week) just because I “felt like running” as Forest Gump would say. I was mainly doing lots of “slow” miles like 9:00-8:35 pace and really pushing the limits of how much mileage my body could handle. I was doing virtually no workouts and tossing around the idea of running a 50 miler this summer.

There is a huge difference between “racing” and “running” a marathon. I’ve ran 14 marathon in the past 3 years. I have only “raced” a handful of them. Racing a marathon requires ALL of your heart, mind, body & soul. It’s in incredible feat to attempt to run 26.2 miles as fast as you can. As Neal Collick would say, “it’s not the distance that scares me- it’s the pace”

I never planed on “racing” Boston this year

My two goals:

  • have fun & have a positive attitude the whole time
  • obtain a Boston Qualifying time (sub 3:35)

5:00am– wake up call

This was 4am my time, so it was tough to drag myself out of bed. I started drinking water right away because I knew it would be sunny! I changed into my race outfit and prepped my bag

5:40am- Hotel Lobby with hundreds of other runners to wait for the Buses to bring us to Hopkinton, MA.

6:15am- the buses drive us from downtown Boston to Hopkinton, MA where the Boston marathon starts. It was getting light out and the bus ride seemed to take a lot longer than 26.2 miles 😉

7:00am- arrived in Hopkinton at the middle/high school where athlete’s village is. We got out and took a lot of pictures with our group of friends from Minneapolis. We had about 2-3 hours to kill.

9:00am- Jason & all of Wave 1 left to go to the start. The race did not start until 10:00am, but it is about a 1 mile walk to the start and there are thousands of people!

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10:00am- My running buddy Elaina and I have agreed to run the first few miles together in Wave 2. We walked to the start. I begged her to come with me to use the portos at T-minus 10 min to the start. I am so glad she cam and I got to use them! There were SOO many people in Wave 2 Coral 3 that we overflowed to outside the gate

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Mile 1- 7:47

It was very sunny already. People were BLOWING by me. Mile 1 is DIRECTLY downhill people go crazy. Elaina and I ran side by side 🙂

Mile 2- 7:38

This is still very very downhill. Elaina and I ran together. I turned my music on and focused on staying relaxed. I looked around at other runners who were beginning to start sweating a lot. I knew it was going to be a hot day.

Mile 3- 7:35

We hit the first water stop. It was A CLUSTER. Everyone was coming to a complete stop. A giant road/construction sign read “WARNING RUNNERS- HYDRATE EARLY” then something about heat exhausting. I was a little worried about how this 26.2 was going to end. I played it cautiously. 

Mile 4- 7:20

This is a big downhill. I was feeling in the groove. I knew I should have probably gone a bit slower. I started the “water dumping” on my head. I also was taking water and gaterade at every stop. I lost Eliana at a water stop here somewhere. It is SO crowded at these races. I kept looking around for her pink shirt but couldn’t find her in the sea of people

Mile 5-7:36

Mile 6- 7:23

Mile 7- 7:20

The crowds were getting thick and my adrenile was pumping! This is always the part of the marathon where I start feeling A-MAZING. I usually just let myself go with the pacing, but as soon as saw that mile come in at 7:20, I consciously made myself slow down.

Mile 8- 7:35

I was enjoying the crowds and feeling great! Taking water and gaterade at every stop & dumping water on my head. I had gotten in a pattern at the water stations. I felt very confident and fresh

Mile 9-7:40

I felt that a lot of people were slowing down around this point in the race. I felt like I was catching or passing a lot of people. 

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Mile 10- 7:48

I bumped into Katie Ringley & Bethany Bowmen. They are two of my huge inspirations for running! It was fun running next to these inspirational ladies for awhile

Mile 11-7:54

The course was turning uphill a little here. We were keeping the pace conservative and I felt good!

Mile 12- 7:30

Mile 13-7:29

I crossed half way at 1:39:58

Mile 14- 7:30

Mile 15- 7:44

I was taking ice pops from spectators. I took oranges. Licorices. Normally, I don’t take anything crazy, but I was going all out today. I thought the more I could get in my body the less the heat would effect me.

Mile 16- 7:22

 I felt okay but my heart sunk as we ran over the highway overpass into Newton. I knew EXACTLY what was to come.

Mile 17- 8:09 (Welcome to Newton LOL)

Hills. On hills. On hills. I didn’t even look at my watch. I knew I was slowing down, but I also knew I still had a lot left in me! I was dumping tons of water on myself to cool off. I was drinking at least 1-2 gaterades and 1-2 waters at every stop. I had NEVER drank that much in a marathon in my life. I was so thirsty! It seemed the more I drank the thirstier I was!

Mile 18- 8:21

The crowds were SOOO thick and people were SO uplifting here. It’s like they actually WANT you to do good. They believe in you! They were cheeting “you can do it!!!”. I felt so strong in this moment- not really physically but MENTALLY. I felt that nothing would destroy my spirit!

Mile 19- 7:53

Things were getting tough. I was digging deep here.

It’s always a spiritual experience when you get to a certain point in a long distance race and you are running on PURE heart. It can almost bring you to tears! You are pushing through SO much agonizing pain. It’s really indescribable to a non-runner. Very powerful moments!

Mile 20- 8:12

My usual thought during this part of the race is “even if you blow up- less than 1 hour left”. For the first time in my running career, I said to myself “YOU ONLY HAVE less than 1 hour to be IN THIS MOMENT. The Boston Marathon will be ENDING in less than 60 min! Enjoy this!” High-fiving the crowds and being present in the moment.

Mile 21- 8:38

HEARTBREAK HILL. I forgot where heartbeak was. I remember thinking “I hope this is heartbreak”, but I didn’t see a sign or anything. It was as bad as I remember it. I did not walk this year!

Here I am running up “Heart Break Hill”

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Mile 22- 7:53

I seemed to have gotten a second wind. I have never felt this good mentally this late in a marathon. I knew it had to be the crowds. I took a red rose from someone here. I was high-fiving almost every person for a half mile. I can still hear the cheers!

Mile 23-7:58

Mile 24- 8:15

I didn’t remember this part of the course at all. Last year I was hypothermic at this point and had extreme tunnel vision. I freaking LOVED this part of the course this year. I was soo happy in this moment that I came back to experience this race again!

Mile 25- 8:08

I could see the Citco sign! We were getting close! I had never taken so much gaterade and taken so much so close to the end of a race before, but I was still taking a lot here!

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Mile 26- 8:13

I tried to push as hard and I could here but as you can see I didn’t have much left in the tank 😉

Last .4 (garmin was long)- 7:58 pace

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Turn left onto Bolyston Street!!! I was so happy to see the finish!

3:26:07

14th marathon

9th Boston Qualifying time

2nd Consecutive Boston Marathon

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I thought I was just being a wuss about the heat/sun the whole race. At the finish people were falling over. I saw 2 people getting carried away in a stretcher. Jason (who is a 2:46 marathoner) had texted me saying “you almost beat me”. It seemed like the sky was falling! LOL.

Unlike most marathons- I was able to make it all the way back to the hotel (less than 1 mile away) all by myself and coherently speak- It was fab!

 I am glad I played in safe and enjoyed the course! I gave a good effort out there, and I am sore today!

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 Congrats to Jason Quarford who ran the fastest time out of anyone I personally know at Boston! 2:51 for his second marathon (he is in the middle).

It was so great to have so many friends come out this year to run! I think the friends really make this trip worth it!! We headed over for drinks at the famous Cheers bar 🙂

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Up next: Grandma’s Marathon in June!