Can you even believe that it’s the second day of March?!? March is my favorite month of the year (or maybe a tie with December!)… it’s the beginning of Spring, 3 of the 4 kids in my family have our birthdays (as do Kevin and my brother-in-law!), I love St. Patrick’s Day, and there are tons of great Spring races.
Speaking of races, I ran a marathon yesterday! I’ve said many times that I’ve had bad luck in marathons before and have never been happy with my time. I generally enjoy half marathons more than full marathons, and my half marathon times are so much better (relatively) than my marathon times. So much better that I wanted to take one more attempt at improving my marathon time, so I’ve been training for the Woodlands Marathon since November.
Well, I won’t leave you hanging. Unfortunately, the race didn’t go as I had hoped. However, I had a great experience and, as always, learned a lot. Here are my 7 thoughts about my marathon yesterday.
- I’m so grateful. It’s easy to say that I’m disappointed with my time. After all, my finish of 4:13 was 28 minutes slower than my goal for this race, and that’s a lot! However, it is absolutely not lost on me that completing a marathon is a huge accomplishment, and I do not take that for granted! I feel so grateful that running is a part of my life, and covering 26.2 miles (26.5 if you miss some tangents like I did!) is an amazing feat. I’m grateful that I had the determination to keep pushing and finish, because I honestly didn’t feel like I was running strong starting way back around mile 2, and I wanted to quit many, many times in the latter half of the race due to tough leg cramps. (picture source)
I am also grateful for the support of so many of you – as soon as I posted the below picture post-race, your encouraging comments made me feel so lucky to be a part of the crazy social media world!
- I trained well. Performance on race day is usually a reflection on how well you trained. However, I still honestly believe that I trained very well for this race. I felt better than I’ve ever felt going into a marathon, and I successfully completed more long runs than I ever have before, including 5 runs of 19 miles or more. I dealt with tight calves for a few weeks and woke up with a very severe calf cramp one day that prevented me from running, but in general I balanced running, rest, and cross-training well for my body. Getting to the starting line of a marathon injury-free is an accomplishment in itself! Here is me, looking tired but still (kind of) smiling at mile 26:
- My race-day preparation was spot-on. I stuck to the 7 tips that I posted in this blog post. I rested well the week before the race, slept in compression socks, ate a tried-and-true pre-race dinner (brought from home) of a sweet potato, broccoli, and a chicken breast, and I have swapped out my evening snack for almond butter and a banana. I ate my regular pre-race meal of a Van’s gluten-free waffle with almond butter and a banana, and like I showed you on Instagram, we even brought our coffee maker to the hotel! In almost all of my first dozen or more races, I had major stomach issues, so the fact that my stomach felt great the entire race really signifies to me that I am succeeding at finding what works for me for races. (And I do believe that this varies by person, but with careful experimentation we can figure out the best nutrition plan for each runner or athlete!)
- The weather just plain stunk. Several months ago, I posted about how I don’t do well in heat and humidity … and sadly, that was confirmed yesterday. Weather is definitely luck of the draw, but I think I have especially bad luck with marathons! The average temperature for this race is in the 50s, and the temperature every day leading up to the race was in the low 50s. Starting tomorrow, it will return to high 40s and low 50s. But the 2-day heat blip we experienced yesterday was enough to do me in. At race start, it was 67 degrees and 96% humidity (I didn’t even know that was possible!!), and at the finish it was 76 degrees and sunny. Humidity really affects me, and I know that any time I run in humid conditions I slow down a lot. So really, it’s no surprise that I was impacted, but it still “stings.” I sweat so much in the first 10 miles that my shoes were already squishing loudly with every step, and I stuck with my 3:45 pace group despite knowing it wasn’t going to be my day. By the time I reached 15 miles, I was cramping pretty badly, and my pace slowed by 4 minutes/mile towards the end as I stopped to stretch and walk. Many instances of cramping are actually from muscle exertion, but given the pace at which I was running through 15 miles (which should have been very do-able for me), I am convinced that my case was mostly from losing too much water. Although I am not used to drinking Gatorade on the run, I chose to take a risk and drink some along the course, and I think it helped, but I waited a bit too long before starting. Lesson learned: choosing a race in Houston, one of the most humid cities in the US, is probably not the smartest idea if you are highly affected by humidity :). (picture source)
- Kevin is the best supporter ever. Not only did he take 24 hours out of his busy life to drive to Houston with me, eat homemade food in a hotel room, go to bed very early on a Friday night and wake up very early on a Saturday, but he was out on the course cheering and supporting like a champion. As a runner himself, he knew exactly how I was feeling, and knew just the right things to say to not make me feel bad about not meeting my goal. I feel so lucky that we do such a great job of supporting each other. He is amazing! And because I’m a proud wife, here’s a picture of him from a few years ago:
- I highly recommend the Woodlands Marathon. It was a very well-run race, and I was impressed with the organization from start to finish. I chose it for many reasons – aside from the fact that it was driveable and at a good time of year for my training schedule, it’s also a relatively flat course (some rolling hills, but nothing steep at all), a great size (there were about 1,000 marathon runners, so it still feels personal without being too small), and a nice route (pretty much just a road with trees on either side for 25 of the 26.2 miles, but it’s very green, which I like!). The water stops were reliably every 1.5 miles, and they had plenty of water (and later, Gatorade). For a smaller race, there was a lot of course support, and many people shouted out names they saw on bibs, which was very nice. If you plan to run this race, I can’t recommend staying in the Woodlands Waterway Marriott enough. I used up my last few Marriott Rewards points to get a room here, and it was SO worth it. The course literally starts and finishes with in 0.25 miles of the lobby, and it was so nice not to have to worry about transportation, parking, or long port-o-potty lines! (picture source)
- A coincidental guest post coming Thursday, a really nasty toe, and the glory of the try. Yes, these have nothing to do with each other, but I’m lumping them all together anyway! First, a teaser: I’ll have a guest post coming up on Thursday about “What To Do When a Race Doesn’t Go Your Way.” I had to submit it about a month ago, so this is coincidental timing, but I’m glad I already have it written so I can follow my tips! I’ll be sure to link to it on Thursday.
Second, please do not click on the link in the next sentence if you are squeamish or can’t handle nasty pictures (in fact, I’m not sure why anyone in their right mind would click on it, aside from runners … we’re a strange bunch who sometimes like to see the pain others are going through). Anyway, I’m sharing my disgusting, blistered toe just to show how you can block a temporary minor pain out of your mind … I honestly was in so much pain from the cramping and the sweat loss that I didn’t even think of how irritated my toe was more than once.
And last, I had to re-share this quote that I posted on The Lyons’ Share Facebook page yesterday. I adore the concept of “the glory of the try,” and it is absolutely what keeps me coming back to running races … the chance to prove your abilities to yourself over and over, and to learn about yourself even if the race doesn’t go your way. (picture source)
So tell me in the comments … What lessons have you learned from something that hasn’t gone exactly your way? What race or athletic event is next up for you?