To say that marathon day was ideal would be stretching it to the extreme. It wasn’t that it wasn’t an experience because I think anytime you set out to complete your goal of finishing something that you have been working towards for 18 weeks or more, you will have an experience and it will mean the world to you, whether your goal is to become a full marathoner or a half marathoner, regardless of outcome you will have accomplished your goal whether the result is perfect or not.
Looking back now there were a few variables that were not perfect but they were also outside of my control and couldn’t be avoided. So on race day I just rolled with them. As a new runner I learned you cannot control the weather. It rained nearly the entire time I was on the course, was windy and was cold. That was an element that I could not control so I stopped stressing about it once I knew it was going to be that way. I also could not control the weather during my training. We had one of the worst winters in Buffalo’s history and most of my training was done indoors to keep from freezing or risking injury. I think I did 2 runs out of the whole month leading up to the race outdoors. All of my long runs beyond my first half marathon training run were completed inside on the treadmill. You can control what time of the year your race is but once you have done that, you can’t control what you train in.
During the race my knee gave out around mile 7/8 and though there were things I could have done to prevent it during my training, I could not go back and change them at that point. So even though I couldn’t run I did make up mind that I was going to finish the race – that was in my control and I was determined. A marathon is a distance regardless of how fast you complete it.
There were things that were in my control that I should have done better but come race day you can’t go back so it is best to look directly at the task ahead.
- I should have done a lot more strength training.
- I should have done a lot more core work.
- I should have done a lot more stretching.
- I should have taken more than 18 weeks to become a “runner”.
These are all phrased with the term I should have done, but in the end I learned from this experience and if and when I do train for another race I will know better for next time. I will take the time to just build a more consistent base and platform that includes running muscles which are really different compared to the muscles needed to make it through a basketball season. It is crazy to think that I was playing a different sport one year ago and now I have done something that I never thought I would. Remember this post? Well I have certainly come a long way since then and even though I didn’t run that half in Buffalo I ran a full in DC.
What I have realized coming off of the marathon, now as a “marathoner”, is that you have to go in with few expectations and be willing to just roll with the whatever happens. I didn’t plan to have my knee start to hurt during the marathon but I also didn’t let it stop me from finishing. There was an awesome quote I read and I want to leave you with it – especially if you are training for your first marathon.
“You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a weak or you can quit and your head will hurt for a lifetime” -Mark Allen