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?
Sorry the race didn’t go as planned. Heat and humidity kill me, too. But it sounds like you have a great attitude and are using it as a learning experience, so kudos to you!
Thanks, Cassie! Yes – at this point, all I can do is learn, improve, and keep on going, so that’s what I’m doing! I appreciate your support!
This is amazing to me. I’m not a runner, so it’s awesome to me when people complete marathons – at any pace. You did awesome, congrats!
Thank you so much, Lauren! That means a lot!
Also, my toes are starting to look like that! (Note to self: read the entire post before you comment!)
Thank you, Jillienne! You’re the best! Runners’ toes are SO nasty … now it’s basically my whole foot that’s peeling off. Ugh!
A 4:13 marathon is pretty amazing in my book! You are such an inspiration! 🙂
Ok, I’m going to say it – that sucks. I have been there, with the unsuspected heat and crappy race conditions and it’s a bummer. But I love how you have focused on having a positive attitude anyways! You’re such an inspiration! Are you looking for a comeback race in the near future? It’s still plenty cold in many places around here.
I’m running the Shamrock Marathon in 2.5 weeks…you could try again there! 🙂
Thanks for relating, Ashley. You’re right – it totally sucked. Every second of the second half of the race (after I “gave up” on my original goal), I was kicking myself figuratively. BUT, once I finished and let myself mope for an hour or so, I had to focus on the positive. And a marathon is a huge accomplishment, no matter what!
I AM looking at a comeback race (despite my smarter side saying just stick to halves for a few months). The Shamrock looks AWESOME, but it’s actually 1.5 weeks away, not 2.5 weeks away, right? I am feeling recovered (aside from my stupid toe), but I can’t help but think that 14 days between marathons is just a little too short. You sure do make me think, though… and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been googling flights and hotels for the past hour!! Eek … we’ll see.
Great job Megan! Finishing a marathon is a huge victory no matter what – yes it stings when we miss our goals, but that doesn’t diminish the accomplishment!
And I agree on the community – I looked early on Instagram and there was nothing, and by the time I got back from my long run there was TONS of support!
And you deserved it!
My biggest ‘challenge’ was the PA Grand Canyon Marathon last year – it was the first running of the race, and the organizer website was a bit of a mess, and was awful wth course info – listing elevation change of ~200ft … that was just not true – my garmin put it at over 6000ft of total up & down. So when I had to get on a plane the next day, doing the stairs was ‘fun’. Needless to say – NOT a PR!
Weather is something – something we cannot control as I mentioned – and I know with our local marathon (around first of October)over the last 3 years it has gone from 35F with freezing rain, 40 start / 60 finish (i.e perfect), and 65 start, 88 & humid finish (ugh) … so I can totally feel for your weekend run!
I have been looking around for things to run – there is a half in Syracuse coming up, but I don’t think I can make it. There is just not that much this time of year up here.
Thank you for your support, Michael. It means a lot! Wow, your story of 6000ft up and down sounds CRAZY – I can’t believe they were off by that much on the course info! I’m considering another marathon coming up, and last year the race was 27.3 miles long … which kind of makes me re-think!! You would have to imagine they would get things like this right; however, having planned a small 5K and seeing how difficult it is, I also have a lot of sympathy for those who make errors like these. By the way, another one I am considering is the Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon on 4/27 … how far is that from your neck of the woods? Might be an option for you, whether or not I do it – it gets good reviews!
On the elevation – what they initially put was literally the start to finish different, and since it was a down and back, it was a matter of finishing on different parts of the same hill. They apparently fixed it the week before the race, but I didn’t notice! Ugh!
And had you said ‘there is a cool marathon in April’, I would have replied ‘let me guess, weekend of the 25-27th? Because I have a fraternity alumni reunion, we have Danny going to Senior Prom with his girlfriend, both boys are in the New York State music performance competition, and there was supposed to be a college visit … but that got postponed. Basically, anything in April is falling on that weekend! 🙂
Oops, sorry to add fuel to the fire. But I am secretly excited – between the throwback fraternity pictures + reunion pictures + prom/ competition pictures that I know you’ll share, you’ll have a great post that following week, I’m sure!
haha – I had seen that marathon last year and heard great things … maybe next year! (who am I kidding, that weekend has been a wreck for years!)
I am really looking forward to the weekend – it is the 150th anniversary and being held at my alma mater which was also the founding chapter. So it will be special, and a great time to see old friends, some I have seen many times, other who haven’t seen me since I weighed >200lbs heavier than now!
Wow awesome job Megan!! Racing and running can teach us a lot! IT doesn’t always go our way but you pushed throw and finished and that is something to be proud of! That is the thing about racing- sometimes we have a good day and sometimes we don’t. All your training comes down to how your body does on one day. It doesn’t mean we don’t have that goal in us it just means it wasn’t that day. You did awesome! So glad Kevin was there supporting you 🙂
Thanks so much for your support, Sara! You’re right – it doesn’t mean that I don’t have that goal in me. Thanks for the inspiration!
Sometimes the day just isn’t yours. But the best part is, is you still love to run and can always try again! The marathon is a beast. I’m so intimidated by it, but intrigued all at the same time. My goals are similar to yours! we need to tame the beast!! (and ya, know there’s always a fall marathon waiting to be ran!)
Thanks, girl! I really appreciate the support. Our goals have been similar (isn’t your half very similar to my 1:39 PR?), but you have been getting SO speedy lately … it’s awesome! I don’t think I can do a fall marathon, because it would require running 20+-milers through the 115-degree Texas summers, which is just not the best situation for a girl who hates running in heat! But I may try to squeeze in another this spring, or at the very least … next spring!
haha. I wasn’t even thinking of training through that summer heat! I don’t do too well in the heat either, well i struggle most in humidity. I don’t like feeling like I can’t breathe because the air is so gross and thick.
My 1/2 PR is 1:41 right now, i’m trying desperately to break 1:40! our times are really close!
YES!!! Ok, well sometime in our future you need to pace me through a 5K (if I don’t die), I’ll pace you through a half (you WILL get that one minute off, I am 100% sure!), and we’ll both suffer through a marathon together that is way better for us than silly Chicago! 🙂
seriously!! That would be so fun! are you thinking about doing chicago again sometime? Their lottery starts March 19th.. just sayin
Umm … no. I’m done with Chicago! I know people LOVE it, but it treated me poorly twice with that terrible heat, so I’m over it! 🙂 So we’ll have to meet up eventually at a destination race.
WooHoo – great job on finishing the race. Sorry it wasn’t exactly the time you were hoping for but like you said, you ran 26.2 miles which is no joke!!
Thanks for your support, Kim! You’re right – a marathon is no joke!
Wow a huge congratulations!!! Even if everything didn’t go perfectly, that is an amazing accomplishment. After just doing a half, I give major cred to anyone doing a full.
Thank you so much for your support, Tonya!
You did an amazing job and I can completely relate to what you went through! First of all I feel like weather can really destroy a person’s race performace and you just never know what you are gonna get! Last year I ran the Houson marathon in January (so like 6 weeks before your race) and it was in the 30s, super windy, and pouring rain. The marathon distance is such a beast. It can be so easy to run 30 minutes more than goal time, or more! I mean its 26 miles and anything can happen! I think part of conquering the marathon is experience running them, and I know for me (I’ve only done 3) I have learned alot each time. I know that if you decide to keep running marathons you will hit your goal (or better)! Congrats again, and I’m so glad you are able to keep a positive outlook on the experience!
Thanks for relating, Lisa! You’re right that the weather is just brutal. My first marathon was 28 degrees and is still my best out of 5. The rest have been over 70 degrees, and I just don’t seem to be able to handle the heat! I thought this was going to be my last one, but I can tell you for sure that it wasn’t! 🙂
I am so proud of you! Even though it was not the race you hoped for, your outlook is amazing and you are amazing! YOU JUST RAN A FREAKING MARATHON!! I am going to save my comment/answer to your questions for our chat tomorrow 🙂 happy Sunday friend xo
Thank you so much, Amy! I do realize that just finishing a marathon is a huge accomplishment! Loved our chat this week!
Meg: First, for such a pretty lady, you sure have one butt-ugly toe! Please make sure you give that the attention it obviously needs. As for the less than gratifying race, having 26.2 miles done by 11:30AM on ANY day, is more than most everyone else can claim. I hadn’t even finished my 4 miles by 3PM! I am glad you recognize that it is the journey getting to the starting line that is the major accomplishment, not necessarily the finishing time on a race day that will always have certain variables which are beyond your control. I hope that thing which looks vaguely like a toe doesn’t shut you down for too long and you are back out enjoying your daily runs soon. – Gary
Thanks, Gary. I really appreciate your support, as you know!! I laughed as soon as I read this because I knew you would click on that picture. The toe won’t stop me – no biggie, just too much squishing around. The sore calf and hip (plus nice little mental break) will keep me out for a few days but I’ll be back soon – a few half marathons coming up soon!