I ran my first… First full marathon that is. And what an experience it was. Would I run another full again? Definitely, as much as I hated the run, I loved the lessons learned. The experiences were many and all jumbled together but I did have time to reflect.
I can break the run down to 2 essential components:
1. The Physical
I’m going to be honest, I didn’t train the way I should have. I ran a half every Sunday. Usually, that was it but I do train 6-8 times a week with other activities. Primarily, climbing and shadow boxing.
The first half was easy, our split time was a 2:30 or so and I wasn’t feeling it. Good conversation and good company ensured that the time went by fast.
Around the 25-28k mark, my right knee had a sharp spasm and I had to walk it off. I then ran again but I got the spasm again. I was pretty much stuck with repeating this process until the end. That and my stomach was cramped up for about 20k forced me to slow down.
2. The Mental
I felt good for the first half physically and mentally. I was able to handle the stomach cramping just fine but with my right knee messing up combined with my stomach, it was tough.
This is what helped me carry through the experience:
- I had amazing running partners, Adam and Shirley had just run Berlin 3 weeks prior and for them, this run was a cool-down. At no point did they get angry or upset with my pace. Stephanie was running her first with me and the four of us have trained extensively together (shout out to Kim, Mat, Stanis, Mel and everyone else that I’ve run with for training). I very clearly was slowing her down but that didn’t bother her either. We’ve all had our difficult runs and this was no different. Scotia was my turn to have a tough time but funny enough I didn’t let it get to me.
- What I did differently for this run was manage my expectations. I expected to finish this marathon, I had no set time in mind at all. I probably would’ve been frustrated and aggravated if my running partners were showing signs of annoyance but they weren’t so I wasn’t. Aside from the excruciating pain that I had from knee, the run itself was fun…ish….
- You always see interesting people on the run. One guy was dressed as a giant bug and we were playing catch up. My goal was to beat him, I did and it sounds petty but that’s the way I roll. A true inspiration for me was the woman who was running in full firefighter regalia. I saw her struggle but she struggled well. She was amazing because she kept going in spite of wearing 40lbs of additional gear. Turns out, she broke 2 Guinness records running in gear:http://www.orangeville.com/news-story/4923058-firefighter-grad-breaks-two-guinness-world-records-at-toronto-marathon/
- The running community is actually quite small and when you join an organization like the Running Room, you tend to run into people you know. I saw a lot of runners that I know and it’s always a morale boost to recognize people on the run or have them recognize you. When you have 20,000 people running with you, things tend to get lonely and this just confirms that you’re not alone. So some more shout-outs, Laurie for running with us a grand total of 5 feet, Craig for pacing a group of people and all the strangers who called out greetings. A funny shout-out to Jeff for leaving the following sign.
- As a group, we had planned to sing Bohemian Rhapsody at the 23k mark. We did, we sang it twice and the look on all the people’s faces was priceless. The morale boost was tremendous and we had someone approach us after and thank us for being awesome.
I purposely wrote more about the mental than the physical. Running is a mental game, it’s easy to give up but if you build a support structure around you, running the distance that you want is doable.