Don’t Underestimate The Marathon !
I will be honest, from the beginning I never really understood what the big deal was about running a marathon. Coming from over 10 years as a competitive cyclist and having pushed my body to the limit, how hard could a marathon really be? The training wasn’t bad, it was actually fun (well maybe not the freezing cold runs in Collingwood by myself). I managed to stay pretty much injury free, and thought that this marathon thing would be no problem. I was wrong. That was by far (except for childbirth and parenting) the hardest thing I have ever done!
I chose the Sugarloaf Marathon in northern Maine because it sounded very pretty, scenic, and ideal for a family road trip. I also felt like I didn’t want a big marathon for my first experience. I wanted simple logistics and short bathroom lines. Sugarloaf did not disappoint. ! ! The race gun went off, and so did I. I had to focus hard on not getting caught up in the quick pace that people were setting. The first 10k were fairly easy being flat or downhill. They were beautiful with the mist rising off the lake and the mountains in the background. Chatting with people helped the time pass quicker. Then came the hills, 2 very steep short hills similar to our hills in the beaches, and one long 3km hill. This might have been where I went too hard, but I was feeling good and went up the hills with ease. After the steep descent, I got to see my husband and kids and high five them. The halfway point came quicker than I expected and I was feeling great. I was right on track with a great tip that was given to me- at the half you should feel like you could have gone faster. And I did. I was on track to run just under 3:25!
Then came 35km. I had to work hard to keep my pace, if I let my mind wander for just a second I would slow down. I focused on my form, my breathing, and a steady cadence. At 37km the negative thoughts started creeping in. I was sure my legs were going to collapse under me. Thankfully I met a man doing his 91st marathon. He talked me off the edge and got my focus and mind back into the race. He ran with me until 39km when my knee seized up. I told him to go ahead and he told me to keep running no matter how much it hurt. All I wanted to do was sit on the side of the road and cry. I did cry but somehow I kept going. For the next 3 km I probably looked like the weirdest runner anyone had ever seen doing a hobbling dance down the road. I was staring anxiously at my Garmin willing it to slow down. To be honest I don’t remember much of the last 3 kms. I only remember rounding the corner for the finish and seeing 3:29 and change on the clock. I mustered the best sprint I could to cross that line just under my goal time of 3:30. And of course I was not smiling!!!
4 days later and most of the pain is gone, and for some weird reason I sort of actually feel like running. I know I wouldn’t have made it to the line if I hadn’t had some past experience with pushing my body and mind to it’s limits. But most importantly I had an amazing group of people in the BRC who helped me in my journey to running my first marathon (it was their fault anyway that I signed up for one in the first place).
Next up Boston via Chicago.