Marathon? How?

Quite a few people have been asking me how I did it/how it felt/how did I avoid the wall/how I pushed through/how I kept my mind occupied/how I felt afterward.

Now that it's 5 whole days (woohoo!) since my first marathon and the adrenalin high has worn off, I believe I can give somewhat sound answers to these questions. I am writing this because I am an ordinary person who was able to run a marathon. I have no special athletic ability- in fact, I competed in ABSOLUTELY no sports ever as a child or teenager... ZERO. I hope that in typing this out, other ordinary people realize that they can do incredible things.

Aside from a commitment to 18 weeks of training, there were some completely random factors that attributed to my success and actual ENJOYMENT of this first marathon. These little bits of wisdom remind me of how important it is to always be open to learning- you never know when someone else's actions or words can change your perspective and improve you.

As I stated many times in this blog, I cannot just run for myself. The more the run is about me and my goals and desires, the weaker my performance is. I had to make sure that I didn't have much "wow this sucks" brain time during a run that I knew would take me more than four hours. My most important success tool in this race was on my right arm. You can see it in this photo:

It's a list of 30 people to pray for. (but stretching is essential too) First, I made a list of 26 and planned to devote a mile to each person. Then I realized that there were other people that were on my heart, so I added their initials as well. I knew that it wasn't realistic to believe that I would be solely focused on prayer with every step, but if each mile marker brought a new person to mind I could keep moving. My prayers were never about what I thought that person needed to fix or improve in their life (ugh- pet peeve about praying w/ others because God already knows and we seem to throw our opinions in the mix for some dumb reason- oh wait this is a running blog sorry)they were an outpouring of gratitude for my relationship them. When my brain failed to produce words and rational thoughts, I simply ran for them and with them. The strength of God's love for them and for me and for the blessings of knowing the person I was praying for fueled the strength in my body. I will run every marathon with a list like this.

A granule of wisdom came from this guy:

That's my youngest son after the 5k we ran together one day before the marathon. He wanted to beat his time from last year which was just over 35 minutes. I ran along side him and we chatted the ENTIRE time. Neither of us were ever out of breath. We took three walk breaks that lasted no more than twenty seconds each at his request. When something excited him, he sped up a little. When he was tired, he slowed down a little. There is proof that children have a better survival rate and are much more likely to be found quickly when stranded in the wilderness compared to adults. Why? Because they do not have egos to contend with. They rest when they're tired. They drink when they're thirsty. They do not have the capacity to have a battle of wills against themselves. They simply accept their circumstances and take care of their most basic needs. I believe the situation is similar for a child when he's running. We finished in 32:26. I was so comfortable at this pace and I decided that if I could feel like that for most of those 26.2 miles the next day, I just might do ok.

I overheard a PRICELESS statement while I was standing at the start right about here:

I don't typically go out of my way to listen to other people's conversations, so I will assume this was divine intervention. Lake Placid is rather hilly. It in the Adriondacks. I did pretty much NO hill training. I decided that worry and anxiety were pointless when this reality hit, so I didn't give much room for a last minute work around either. However, I happened to hear someone loud and clear in the middle of that crowd. "When you feel the hills coming, don't look straight ahead. Just look at the ground right in front of you. Get through it one step at a time. If you look at the hill ahead of you, you might start freaking out a little." GENIUS! I'm sure many runners already know this, and I know I've heard this before but I never applied it. That string of sentences saved my ass. I only looked at one hill- the one before the one before the final climb. (and wouldn't you know it, I walked about half that hill because it freaked me out)

I did not wear my Garmin. I meant to bring it just in case I decided I wanted to wear it, but I'm now convinced it would've doomed me if I did. I could not easily access my phone because the media pocket I made and sewed into the inside of my shorts fit the phone so well that it would not easily slide out. Therefore, I was unable to look at the time. There were mile markers, but no clocks. I was surprised to see no clocks on the course but perhaps this was another divine intervention.

I took water or gatorade at every aid station but one. I went through 4 or 5 power gels. I had 2 orange slices (somewhere after mile 15- that is the first time I ever ate anything during a run) and I had a small cup of cola at mile 25 just because it was there and it seemed like a deliciously sweet idea. (I never drink regular soda.) I used three porta-johns and I stopped to stretch tight muscles at least 4 times. In all of our over thinking, over researching, and over formulating, could be this simple?

Don't make it all about you.
Tired? Rest.
Focus only on what is right in front of you.
Don't worry about time. You will get to the end.
Thirsty? Drink.
Hungry? Eat.
Bathroom? Go.
Pain? Stretch.
Shuffle order if needed.

I'm ready to do it again.

1 comment:

  1. This was one of the best blog posts I've ever read! What a beautiful idea to write those initials on your arm and focus on each one. That is a lovely gift. It makes sense to me when you're focusing on them and not the run per se then it makes it all even more special. I used to be a knitting teacher & some of my students would make prayer shawls; every stitch meant focusing of the intended receiver. They all agreed it did more for them mentally than anything else.
    Your son really does have it figured out. I like your tips and will definitely return to them when I'm preparing for my 1st race.
    Thank you for writing this.