I have included the dates I wrote everything. I am going to present it all in one large post. Here it goes:
I am a few days away from my first marathon. At this very moment, I am just ready to get it over with. I have no worries about the race. I will finish. In fact, let it be known that I will finish the race or die first. My target time is 3 hours 20 minutes. I have no doubt I will complete the time, solely because I am mentally far tougher than I was a few months ago. And I will continue to get stronger mentally. I wish I could run the marathon tomorrow.
5/14 - Morning
In a little over 24 hours from now, I will have completed my first marathon. That’s right, finished it. Very encouraging.
One of the best parts about running a marathon, well, running in general is that I get to eat lots of carbs. I am eating my day-before-the-race breakfast at this little place in Downtown Wilmington called Libby’s - it is an old, delicious, southern-food diner.
I ate eggs, pancakes, turkey sausage, and hash browns. Perfect. One of those meals where I could go home and pass out afterward for the rest of the day.
5/14 - Evening
Just ate some veggie pizza. Nowhere on the level of even the worst NYC pizza, but such is life.
It is 4:15am on marathon morning. I have been up since 3:30am. I am pumped, ready to go. I can’t wait until 7am. By 10:30am, I will have solidified my status as a runner.
Running is a way of life. Race mornings are among my favorite. Obscenely early wake ups, careful pre-race preparation, warming up, and eventually the start. Once you start racing, each step is a reflection of the all of the work you put in. It wont be easy. In fact, it will probably be quite painful. But I will complete it.
Yesterday, I ran in the Delaware Marathon. Physically, I pushed myself harder than I ever have for any activity. My feet burned. My legs cramped. My body was in total pain. And I received the three worst letters in running: DNF.
What happened: At mile 23 my muscles cramped so much that I could not move. I failed my mission. I went to the hospital for dehydration. DNF.
How do I feel?
Physically, I feel like hell. Every muscle in my body hurts. It hurts to walk. It hurts to sit. My left foot feels broken, but only time will tell. I had some abnormalities from my blood work, and I will go to a doctor just to make sure I’m ok.
Mentally. That is a tough one. I am devastated I did not finish. From miles 18-23 my feet burned and my legs cramped. I was running through more pain that I have ever experienced in my life. I wish I could more eloquently describe it. I wash pushing my body harder and faster than I have had before, and the only thing getting me through was the sheer determination to finish. That’s it.
Now the positive news. I can’t wait to do this again. I am itching to get out there and run. Even if I know that next marathon I will end up in the hospital again, and feel twice as bad as I do now, I will cross that finish line.
A special shout out:
I ran the whole marathon until DNF with a great man named Jack Ryle. Funny how running you can make friends. Your company was appreciated, and you helped me get through as far as I did. Also Jack’s friend Andy. I don’t know who you are, but someday I hope we meet again. That you so much for hanging out with me until the paramedics came. I really, really appreciate it.
5/22 - One Week Anniversary
Today marks one week of recovery from the marathon. I have done some very light jogging, biking and lifting since the race ended a week ago. I am still in a lot of pain, particularly my left hip and left foot, but it gets better by the day. At the same time last week, I was being transported to a hospital.
I have had a lot of time to think since the race. It eats me up that I failed. I keep replaying what I would have done differently, and there’s not much I would have changed about that day.
I am ready race again. By the time the next race happens (I’m thinking Yonkers Marathon in September) I will be a fit machine, and a better hydrated one. I will be training all summer with a hydration pack. I am going to run fewer days a week and focus on lifting and spinning classes. Maybe I’ll spring for a bike, but I haven’t decided yet.
All the hard training for the race was essential, but the rest of my body got weak. My upper body strength is not what it used to be. I want to do a few various runs during the week and at least 18 miles every weekend. Seems like a reasonable plan. Well, even if it’s not you can’t stop me. See you in the park.
5/22 - On Tapering
For my first Marathon, I followed Hal Higdon’s Intermediate marathon training plan. Part of the plan recommends a 20 miler 3 weeks before the marathon, followed by a 12 miler two weeks before and an 8 miler the weekend before. More importantly, your mileage leading up to the marathon is significantly reduced.
As you know, I did not finish my first marathon. But that was due to dehydration. The plan itself was good. Despite my pain, running was the 23 miles was not particularly difficult from a fitness standpoint. It hurt like hell, but I have little doubt I would have made it three more miles if I were properly hydrated.
The three weeks of tapering was the most difficult part. You feel like you are losing your fitness, and their came a point where I didn’t care about running anymore. It became a burden. I loved the long runs – I don’t know what it is about them, but they were great. But the waiting, the countdown, the weeks of rest instead of pushing yourself – those were the worst. Dehydration aside, I was completely prepared for the race physically.
I do think I will taper only two weeks next time. Three weeks was too many.