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Reflections on My First Marathon

I've been waiting for my feelings to settle before posting, as they seem to be changing each day that passes after the marathon. But I don't want to wait so long that I forget the important things. (The fact that I'm not concise enough to make a top-ten list is bothersome to me, too, but all eleven points felt important enough to include).

  1. Above all, I am proud of myself. I set a goal--a very challenging one--and I met it.
  2. I didn't get injured. While I was hurting in many and varied ways throughout the process, I remained intact and stayed healthy until the very end.
  3. It was difficult. As much as I'd hoped I would feel happy and relaxed during the marathon, I didn't. It was a grueling race, and I struggled through most miles.
  4. I could have pushed harder. This is a tough thing to admit. I did take some walk breaks when pain/stiffness/nausea felt unbearable, and in retrospect, I think I could have pushed past that. 
  5. I abused the aid stations. I know this. The race course was so well-lined with aid stations--nearly one every mile--that I began to look forward to each one, because I knew I would walk to drink my water. Also, I probably didn't need as much liquid as I consumed, which may have led to the nausea and the eventual need to stop at a porta-potty, which added minutes to my time. For the less disciplined runner, fewer aid stations would have been of benefit.
  6. I didn't know my pace. My Garmin somehow malfunctioned within the first mile, and both the distance and therefore my pace were clearly off. I tried to fix it while running, but I hardly know how to adjust the settings while standing still, so it was a losing battle, and I had to let it be. Since I also didn't memorize the time I'd spent shuffling to the start line, I couldn't subtract that from my time at each mile marker, which meant I could only run according to how I felt. This is not a bad method in theory, but my training was based on knowing my pace throughout my runs. 
  7. The locals were amazing. They supported the runners along the entire course with enthusiastic cheers, amusing and encouraging signs, and even food and drink.
  8. The sun is hot. I'd thought that if I had one advantage going into the race, it was that I trained in the brutal Florida summertime heat. And while I was grateful to be running in Chicago and not Florida, the sun that beamed down on us from a cloudless sky was hot. It was 82 degrees at the hottest, I believe, but because I didn't start running until 8ish, I was running practically until 1pm. I'd gone to great lengths in my training to ensure that my runs were completed either before the sun came up or after it went down, which actually made me less prepared for a daytime run. At least, though, there was very little humidity--no small advantage.
  9. Blisters suck. I knew this from my long training runs, but I think they really slowed me down in those last eight miles or so. The blisters that developed on the bottoms of my pinky toes were larger than my pinky toes. No joke. And today, three days after the race, I'm still hobbling because, while the blisters are gone, the skin is, too. (TMI?) I didn't love my running shoes throughout training, and I think next time I'll make sure I have the right pair earlier on. My shoes may or may not have been the culprit, but for as much time I spend in them, I should not dread putting them on like I often did in many runs leading up to the race.
  10. I will do another. There, I said it. In the hours following the marathon, several people asked me if I'd do it again, and my immediate, unhesitant reply was, "No." But as I gain distance from the pain of the marathon, I think about ways I'd like to improve, and I'm eager to try it again. In fact, I've kept this webpage open in my browser, just in case I am overtaken by the urge to clickety-click my way into another training regimen: ING Miami Marathon.
  11. Friends and family are the best. I said it before, and I believe it even more fully now: I was one of the best-supported runners out there. Everyone from all the different circles of my life--family, friends, running club buddies, coworkers--not only put up with my constant talk, my scheduling needs, and my anxiety for months, but they encouraged me on and celebrated my adventure with me. And in the end, they were the voices that pulled me through. That feeling, more than anything, made every aching moment worthwhile.


Tiffany said…
Congratulations, Lee! And I loved all 11 items on your list!
That was great, you really had a hard times in the race. Congratulation you made it through.

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