I did it! Plus: the musings of a first-time marathoner

Well, I did it.  I finished my very first marathon!  Training, tendonitis and lots of stinky running clothes.  I managed to meet my primary goal of finishing in less than 5 hours (finished in 4:57).  I can’t say it was easy, but it wasn’t terrible either.  Interestingly, I found this to be a journey of discovery and I learned quite a bit about running.  A few thoughts:

  1. A marathon isn’t just two half-marathons bolted together:  I’ve run about, including my training runs, eight half-marathons this year.  Most since September.  They’ve all been pretty good (with one notable exception in 85 degree heat).  I also ran a 22 miler a few weeks ago and felt pretty good about it — although I was a little short on gas towards the end.  I figured with my relative ease surrounding a half, the full would be twice as difficult.  Not true. Which brings me to…
  2. I started my marathon too fast:  Back when I ran my first half marathon, I was very conservative. Starting at about mile 2, I would run a mile, walk for one minute and repeat.  I had a lot left in the tank at the end and finished the last two miles without stopping.  During my marathon, I figured since I had run 18 miles without stopping, I could / should do the same.  I didn’t walk until mile 19, and then I walked.  A lot. I ran the first 10K at 10:05 (my fastest) and was on a 4:30 pace at the halfway mark and a 4:40 at the 20 mile mark.  I then proceeded to drop 17 minutes off my pace over the next six miles.  I failed to recognize that walking isn’t about resting, it’s about controlling your pace in an exciting event.
  3. A cold water bath really helps:  My legs were in bad shape after the marathon.  I went to my hotel room and sat in a bath of cold water for about 15 minutes.  After overcoming the initial temperature shock, my legs really did feel a lot better after the soak.  Think this will become more routine for me.
  4. I don’t think I want to do another one… or maybe I do:  I’ve heard marathon runners tend to develop amnesia regarding the pain of their event. Yesterday, I couldn’t comprehend doing another marathon.  Today, I’m open to considering it.  I’ll likely do another one — just not this week.