To quote the great Barney Stinson,
“Here’s how you run a marathon: Step 1: You start running. There is no step 2.”
If you have no idea what I’m referring to, watch the video above. All jokes aside, I completed my first full marathon yesterday. 26.2 miles. Yes, that 0.2 miles is important. If you’ve run 26 miles, you didn’t run a marathon.
I finished the Houston marathon warm-up series a few months ago and figured, “I might as well run a marathon.” I had already trained and ran up to 18.6 miles so the full marathon was my next step. I decided to sign up for the USA Fit marathon in Sugar Land. The race seemed to offer quite a bit when I had signed up. A finisher’s shirt, jacket, and medal would all be provided, as well as access to all the race photos for free.
Before the race even began, the weather prediction for the entire weekend was rain and cold weather. Now I’ve run in the rain, and I’ve run in the cold, but put those two together for 4 hours… my nerves were going crazy all of last week. A few days before the marathon, I received an email saying that the medals would not be there in time. Although I realize a marathon is about your journey and not some medal, I was pretty bummed.
At last, race day was here and I checked my phone. The odds were ever in my favor for the weather. The weather was in the 60s and no rain! As soon as I got to the race, Jennifer hears the sound of medals clanging. She says, “Maybe those are the medals!” Of course I didn’t believe her because of the email, but I later hear a volunteer say “WE GOT THEM!” Happy me.
For my first marathon, I had pretty high expectations. I wanted to finish sub 4. I decided long before race day that I would follow a 4 hour pacer and speed up at the end to get my sub 4. This wasn’t a bad idea. I kept up with the pacer, who was very nice, for about 19 miles and then the clear skies got to me. Now if you’ve ever ran down University Boulevard in Sugar Land, you should know that there is NOTHING to shade you from the heat. By the time mile 19 got around, it was hot. There was a lack of water stations, and I had completely exhausted not only my own water supply but my Honeystinger waffles as well.
My IT band started to flare up and so I started to walk thinking, “I have 7.2 more miles…” If you’ve raced long distances before, you know that it sucks to run by yourself, so I befriend a female runner who was pacing with the 4 hour group and was also struck by the “wall.” We start running again and have a friendly chat. Her shirt says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and I use that as my mantra to push me. All is Gucci until she has to use the restroom. I lose my buddy and trot along, a loner once more. I’ve slowed down so much that the 4:15 pace group is on my heels. Eventually I tag along with them. I get to mile 22 before the pacer has to use the restroom and all hell breaks loose on earth. I am alone once more. The 4:15 pacer was a crazy inspiration. He’d run a marathon in every state. Talk about dedication and a slight case of OCD. I will never be that crazy. Insane maybe, but not crazy.
It’s mile 23 and I start to walk again. Another guy passes by me and starts to walk asking, “How many miles do we have left?” I tell him after looking at my GPS watch and my new friend and I decide to start running again. This guy tells me he’s about to turn 39 and wants to complete a marathon before 40. I say, “Let’s do it. Let’s get you there.” We chat it up as we’re running and we get to a point where I just start speeding up. I’ve found my second wind and runner’s high once again. My new-found friend quickly realizes and by about mile 24.5 he tells me “go for it.” After hearing that, I decide to just do it.
I’m running a bit under a 9-minute mile the rest of the way (gotta make up for that walking). I’ve run down this path plenty of times and know what to expect. I see mile 25 and I’m all smiles. The marathoners and half-marathoners walking see me and start to cheer me on. I honestly start to tear up a bit behind my sunglasses. Maybe something caught my eye in the wind.
The finish line is in sight and I see my beautiful girlfriend waiting and cheering for me. I see the gun time at 4:24: and climbing. I speed up and finish in 4:24:26. I received my glorious medal and all is right in the world. I take some pics with bae and wait to see all my new friends finish shortly behind me. The 4:00 pacer had waited for everyone that initially was with her to finish and congratulate them. My pace ends up being 10:06 min/mile. I can live with that and will use it as a stepping stone for next year’s Houston marathon. I get my finisher shirt and all the food I can get.
And so began the road to recovery… just kidding. I taught Insanity yesterday, teaching twice today, and one more time tomorrow LOL. This is why I said I was insane earlier. The motivation to push people past their limits and all that adrenaline really pushes me… even through some soreness. Some tips:
- Guise, this is all you need: http://www.amazon.com/Rubys-Lube-Natural-Anti-Chafe-Balm/dp/B00MH7G8GO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422926390&sr=8-1&keywords=ruby%27s+lube. I will leave it at that because you know why.
- Prepare and follow a program. It will help you no doubt. Stick to it. I would say to maybe even over train and go past the usual 19-22 miles suggested in training programs. A marathon is no joke and you need to have adequate training.
- Hydrate early. Even though I drank a ton of water before and during, you really need to hydrate earlier than you think.
- Have fun while you’re training. Preparing for a marathon is a learning experience. You will have ups and downs. Roll with the punches and don’t stay down.
I’ll end this post with another funny marathon video:
Some of these stages are on fleek. Yeah, I said fleek.