Reflections on marathon #9

As my training for the Fall 50 continues, I look to couple training runs with official running events as a way to make them mentally a bit easier.  This past Sunday I had a long training run and instead of running on my own, I decided to run my 9th marathon.

Here’s my marathon/training run recap.

Let me start by saying, it’s a really surreal experience to train and run a marathon and have it not be the “finale” to my training season.  It’s bizarre to realize I’m in the middle of my training and things are only going to get more difficult from this point forward.  Yikes.

Because of this realization, the excitement of the marathon wasn’t what it was normally for other marathons, that and the fact that it was my 9th marathon made it a bit more mellow than usual.  I also realized some of the typical marathon excitement was gone because I didn’t have to travel for the marathon and there was no expo, no photo ops (okay, I did take a few selfies, but that’s about it), no media hype, etc. I’ve been extremely lucky that the three previous marathons had been New York, Boston and Chicago.  The excitement was everywhere and the cities were electric with the energy from the other runners.  This marathon was 40 minutes from my front door and had 223 marathoners compete and a lot of those made up relay teams.  New York had 50,000 runners, Boston had 36,000 and Chicago had 45,000 runners.  That’s a big difference and a lot less energy and built in excitement.

Because of the lack of energy, the fact that I got to sleep in my bed – only the 2nd time I’ve been able to do this before a marathon and something I hadn’t done since 2007 – and I was trying to down play it’s importance and trying to remember it was a training run, I almost forgot to take part in some pre-marathon rituals.  Like the ceremonial packet pick up picture or the laying out of clothes the night before.  But eventually I rallied, remembered it was indeed a marathon and I can’t take that for granted so I got a selfie with my bib after I picked it up, laid out my clothes and snapped a photo and even got the traditional husband-is-half-sleeping-and-couldn’t-be-less-enthused-but-I’m-making-him-pose-for-the-picture-nonetheless, race morning photo!

Once our morning pictures were taken and my mile warm up was in the books we headed south to the Lakeshore to get ready to run.  In the car, I played songs from my Iphone.  It’s become our 2015 tradition.  All winter when we drove to our Saturday morning training runs I would play DJ and select songs from my playlist.  It was surprisingly helpful for getting me ready to run.  The songs I’d pick were fun, had a good beat and were easy to dance to, which I did often while Brian drove!  The songs were also great to sing too as well.  Which I often did, loudly and ALWAYS out of tune.  And god love my husband, not only did he tolerate my off-key signing, he often pretended it didn’t hurt his ears and occasionally gave me a smile for my effort.  So playing DJ on the way to our marathon on Sunday, felt comfortable and like it was the right thing to do.

I’m not going to give you a mile-by-mile recap for you (you’re welcome) but instead I’ll give you the highlights and let you in on what I learned from running my 9th marathon.

  • Whether it’s your first marathon or your ninth, whether it’s part of a training run or not… it’s still 26.2 miles and respect needs to be paid to the marathon gods.
  • Overcast and mist often leads to sun and humidity, which it did.  No matter how many summers I train in, I will never be a fan of running long distance in heat and humidity.
  • Running in fog is kind of cool, except when you are actually trying to see the scenery and check out the view.  I have to give props to the Manitowoc Marathon, it is a pretty course, I just wish I could have seen more of it during the first half.
  • When a runner is breathing super heavy and talking to herself at mile two, Murphy’s Law states that she will run a majority of the race RIGHT FREAKING BEHIND ME!  And Marla’s Law states I will come within inches of stopping to stab her.  You’ll be glad to know I did not stab my shadow (seriously that’s how close she ran to us, she was between me and my shadow!) but I did make a point of pulling Brian aside, looking behind us to her and saying, “you can go around us”.  To which she replied, “oh no, I’m good”.  To which I replied, “no really, you should just go past us”.  To which she replied, “no really, you guys are a perfect pace for me.”  To which I then stink-eyed her and said a silent prayer to the marathon gods asking for early forgiveness for when the inevitable confrontation and stabbing was going to take place.  (We lost her somewhere around the half way point, which is the only reason I managed to finish the race without blood on my hands!)
  • It’s always good to watch a true and inspirational running movie before a marathon.  And it’s always fun to call out the tidbits from the movie while running.  McFarland!  Danny Diaz!
  • It’s still possible to have fun running marathons with my husband.  Well, up to the point where fatigue sets in and then nothing is fun at that point.
  • It may have been my 9th marathon but I was still able to meet some firsts.  It was my first run/walk marathon.  That was at the encouragement of my Coach.  But I learned, walking is hard!  Stopping to walk is hard.  Starting to run again is hard and finding a good pace is hard as well.  Do I do short quick steps?  Do I do long strides?  Do I let my arms hang by my sides or keep them bent and pumping?  Do I try to power walk or recover walk instead?  Never did I think I’d have to learn how to walk, but I do.
  • I also had another first.  My first shot of booze during a marathon.  Not a beer… full on whiskey.  A shot of Jameson at mile 12.5 will put a spring in your step.  Well, it will put a spring in my step for about a mile and then I started to second guess how smart it was to do a shot of whiskey and then try to run.
  • A beer chaser at mile 13.5 is normally not a big deal, I’ve had beer during plenty of marathons and half marathons, but a beer chaser one mile after a shot of whiskey, will sit in the stomach for many, many miles. – Lesson learned.  Beer during marathons – acceptable.  Shots during marathons – not advised.
  • We are EXTREMELY, EXTREMELY lucky to have had friends and family around to Rock the Route for all 9 marathons.  And it really does make a difference.  It’s fun to look for them and try to spot them.  Especially during the higher miles when my mind gets bored.  It’s really nice to have that distraction.  Thanks Carol for helping distract us and Rocking the Route.  As always, it’s much appreciated!
  • And speaking of bored, just like the great chicken or the egg debate, I’m not sure which comes first in marathons; do I get fatigued first and then boredom sets in or am I bored so then my fatigue becomes more amplified?  I’m not sure which order it happens, but it happens every race.  And it sucks.  I try so hard to keep trucking along, but I always get to a point where I just want to be done running.  It’s different from hitting the wall.  This isn’t a “omg, I can’t go one step farther”, it’s more I don’t WANT to go one step farther compared to I CAN’T go one more step.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to break myself from this.  I sure hope so because it will make for a long, long Fall 50.  Which I’m sure I’ll also experience the I CAN’T go any farther, so I hope I can forgo the DON’T want to mental games that I often experience.
  • I need to do a better job at putting on sunscreen. I should have learned my lesson after getting a sun burn at the 2014 Boston Marathon but considering it was overcast and foggy for most of this race,  I didn’t think I needed sunscreen.  But the burn I got should act as a good reminder to put sunscreen on when I head out for a long run.
  • The Manitowoc volunteers and spectators were not abundant but they did represent well!  I was very impressed by the lead bike escorts (for the first marathon runner and half marathon runner) who are there to lead the way for the fastest of the fast and I’ve never met one that was polite, nice or in any way caring about us slow people they are yelling at to “make way” or “stay to the right”.  But both of the bike escorts were very polite AND encouraging.  They encouraged us back-of-the-packers and in no way made us feel less worthy than the élite runners they were escorting.
  • And that goes for the volunteers and the Route Rockers too.  All of the volunteers were very polite and encouraging.  And it may have something to do with the fact that it was such a small marathon, they literally could encourage and talk to every runner on an individual basis. Same goes for the spectators.  One older gentleman in his front yard gave us a simple “good morning” as we run past.  It was sweet.
  • Also sweet was the older gentleman who owned an establishment on the race course and who had his own water stand out for us.  He had a little card table set up with personal 8 ounce bottles of water for us.  And he stood there all day quietly supporting the marathoners who needed extra hydration.
  • And there were some Route Rockers that were there supporting their own loved ones that I can’t thank enough because they cheered for me and Brian EVERY time they saw us.  And during the last half of the marathon, they probably saw us every mile. And they cheered for us every time, without fail.  They didn’t just stare at us as we ran past and they didn’t hold their applause for their own loved one, they shared the wealth and it meant a lot to me.
  • And as grateful for these few groups who cheered for us at the end, I am grateful that we ran about the same pace as the marathoner they were waiting for and I’m grateful we were in front of their person because that way we got to appreciate the cheering before they saw their runner and before they had to get back in the car, pack up and head to the next stop.
  • I’ve been lucky enough to see some beautiful sites (ocean sunsets, historical castles, majestic skylines) in my time, but sometimes there’s nothing more beautiful to see than a finish line.  Big or small, filled with spectators or just filled with the time-keeper and some friends and family… the finish line is a beautiful, beautiful site!  And the finish line for the 9th marathon is just as awe-inspiring as the finish line for the 1st, 4th or 7th marathon.

As I reflect back at marathon # 9, a race that came and went quicker than any before it, I can’t help but get anxious for what’s yet to come.  I would not have been able to run another 24 miles – to get to the Fall 50 finish line.  So while I think I’ve done a lot of training, I realize I have so much more to go.  The Fall 50 is just over 4 months away but so much farther away than that in terms of miles and in terms of being ready to start and finish it.  But as Brian reminded me, I have a Coach who knows exactly how far away it is, how many miles I need to log to get ready and I that I WILL be ready.

So here’s to marathon # 9 being done and in the books.  And here’s to 4 more months… may they get me to the Fall 50 Finish Line – the vision that will be like no other and that I’m sure will surpass all other beautiful sites I’ve ever seen!

Until next time,

Gotta run

#toostubburntoquit #fall50solo #doepicshit

Early Morning Selfie - Race Day!

Early Morning Selfie – Race Day!

Miles is wishing us good luck!

Miles is wishing us good luck!

Last selfie - Parking lot.  Now it's time to run.

Last selfie – Parking lot. Now it’s time to run.

Mile 26ish.  Yep, we were running so slow at this point, Carol had time to take the picture and get to the finish line to see us cross the finish line.

Mile 26ish. Yep, we were running so slow at this point, Carol had time to take the picture and get to the finish line to see us cross the finish line.

Finish Line - oh what a glorious site.

Finish Line – oh what a glorious site.

Done!

Done!

Congrats Sarah for taking 1st place female.  Me on the other hand, came in 30th from the end!

Congrats Sarah for taking 1st place female. Me on the other hand, came in 30th from the end!

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