I’ve been putting off writing about this marathon because I haven’t known where to begin or what to cover. I knew during my long runs (12-22 mile runs) on Sunday mornings with my boyfriend and uncle that I would want to write about this. Training for and running a marathon is a huge commitment. You can’t ‘wing’ running 26.2 miles. It’s also both mentally and physically taxing. I don’t understand how people do more than one marathon in their lifetime, much less a year.
And so I’ll let you know right now that that medal in the photographs above is one thing I’ll never let go of. It is one of my most hard earned possessions. 3 months of dedicated training with my badass boyfriend and uncle definitely paid off. We’d blocked off Sundays for our long runs where we’d grind out the miles in the rain, wind, and 20 something degree weather. I often returned home in sopping wet clothes and in awe of the fact that I’d finished running through multiple cities before most people even woke up and had their breakfasts. It’s seriously amazing what your body will do for you if you tell it to.
Training for my first and probably last marathon was something that required a lot of commitment, willpower, some (or a lot of) whining, and finding creative ways to stay motivated. During the week my co-workers/friends often ran with me since my boyfriend and uncle couldn’t, and that helped keep my runs more interesting. The three of us also used Strava, an application on our phone, to record our runs during the weekdays to hold each other accountable as well as motivate each other. I received daily e-mails about my training regimen every morning from my uncle. We all tried to eat healthier and worked incredibly hard to ensure that we would be successful on race day. And we were!
Standing in a sea of more than 25,000 people at the Dodger’s Stadium, adrenaline coursed through my veins. I don’t know if I’ll ever experience anything like that again. There was barely enough room to move, but it was inspiring to see all of the different types of people participating in this event. People of all ages, body types, and physical abilities ran, and boy, could some of them run fast!
Our goal was to finish in under 5 hours. After six miles, the crowd was more evenly dispersed and we could run at the pace that we’d intended to. The first sixteen to eighteen miles weren’t too difficult. We paused at water stations to stay hydrated, ate some chews in our running (fanny) pack, grabbed some orange slices from supportive spectators, and had light conversation every now and then. Mile 18 I couldn’t keep up the speed my uncle was running at (he broke his PR!), and my boyfriend Mark decided to fall back to stay with me.
Mile 20 hurt. My legs burned and were starting to feel like bricks, but Mark and I kept each other motivated. Partway through mile 22, both he and I were on the verge of tears and ready to quit. Yet we were only 4.2 miles away from the finish line, and that’s what we kept telling each other as we trudged on. By mile 23, it was all a mental game. I kept telling myself that the difference between those who finish at their desired time and those who don’t are whether or not they have the willpower to keep going.
Mark pushed me through my mental wall and vice versa. Mile 24, we picked up our pace so that we could finish at our goal time, and running faster surprisingly made our legs hurt considerably less. I kept the image of me crossing that finish line in the forefront of my mind and reached for it every time I felt myself faltering.
Crossing that finish line was an explosion of relief, satisfaction, and sheer joy, and getting that hefty medal around my neck made me feel as if I’d just gotten a gold medal at the Olympics. Pushing through the pain during the race was probably one of my greatest accomplishments and hey, I’m still feeling like Michael Phelps after he won 8 gold medals in 2008.
Generally after my long runs on Sunday mornings I’d feel nauseous and a loss of appetite, but I was always still able to eat and would feel better shortly afterwards. After the marathon my uncle, aunt, their baby, Mark, and I walked half a mile to Urth Caffe where I forced myself to consume a bowl of chili to replenish all of the nutrients I’d burnt off. On the half mile walk back to our hotel I puked in a bush whether it was because I didn’t eat soon enough after the race or I didn’t hydrate well enough or I’d just pushed my body too hard. Who knows?
Seriously, though, the 4 or 5 hours after the marathon were almost as painful as the marathon itself. I felt like I had a really bad hangover or a sudden bout of the flu. It wasn’t until after my nap that Mark suggested that we go for a walk and search for food. It was Valentine’s Day after all, we were in Santa Monica, and I craved lettuce or a refreshing salad. Besides, walking made my legs feel better and kept the ‘rigor mortis’ from setting in.
Nothing a big bowl of leaves and a nice walk along the Santa Monica Pier couldn’t fix. Just so you all know, the pier is totally overrated and a bit run down if you ask me. But hey, the lit up ferris wheel sure made a nice photo.
The following morning we woke up at around 7 in the morning, rolled out of bed, checked out of the hotel, walked the stiffness out of our legs, and went back to Urth Caffe in hopes that I’d actually be able to keep my food down.
We explored the beach and I tried to swing on those rings, but didn’t have much success with them. My arms are just too short!
Urth Caffe Round 2! Their drinks are always so tasty. My aunt and uncle got me hooked onto Matcha Green Tea Lattes.
It has been two weeks since the marathon, but I’ve only jogged twice since. I’m ready to start back at it again, but the break from the intense training has been a nice change of pace. I’ve had more time to dedicate to my other hobbies, but next off is the sprint triathlon! Or full triathlon…hm…I can’t decide on which one I want to do. As for the marathon? Well, as fun as it was, I’m not sure if I’ll ever do another one again. Once might be enough to last a lifetime for me.
Note: Personally the best way for me to stay active and healthy is by participating in these events. Even though they can be expensive, I try to choose 2 or 3 races I like to do a year and focus on training for them.