As more and more days separate me from my first marathon experience, I am feeling ever more content about the whole, darn thing. I’ve had lots of time to reflect on both my race and Lina’s, as I’ve reread both my post and hers an embarrassing number of times. Even though the last 2 hours of my race were hell, I can’t help but want to savor the memory. The feeling of accomplishment unquestionably outweighs the pain I endured, and even more than that, the experience of training for the previous four months is something I value beyond words.
I liken the journey of training for and completing one’s first marathon to that of pregnancy and childbirth (not that I would know firsthand about the latter!). For months, your body simply prepares for the main event. You see exciting changes and are constantly amazed by what it can do. Towards the end of this preparation period, impatience sets in because you just want that special day to come already! Finally the day comes, and you go into labor or you begin to run those first of 26.2 miles. At first things are just as you expected; little by little everything gets harder, mostly because what may have started out as discomfort turns into actual pain; even more time passes, and pretty soon the pain threatens to kill you.
When you’re certain there’s nothing left for you to give, it’s over! You make it to the other side, and the rush of positive emotions almost instantaneously rids you of the physical agony. In the days or weeks to follow, the pain from the whole experience will linger, but you have something awesome to show for it that makes it ok. (Maybe it’s inappropriate here for me to liken having a baby to having the title of ‘marathoner’, but that’s what makes this analogy, ok??) And after it’s all said and done, and the pain has disappeared, you forget just how painful the whole thing was and…you decide to do it all again. 😉
That was a very windy way of saying that I’m already looking forward to training for Chicago. I’m not yet recovered enough to go on a run, and quite frankly I don’t want to even look at my Garmin for another few weeks, but the promise of another training cycle makes me happy.
As far as this upcoming training cycle is concerned, I plan to do things differently. What I experienced on Sunday is what is known as a ‘muscle glycogen bonk,’ (info on this is located in my Stuff to Read page) and it happens because of poor training and/or nutrition. I don’t think trained poorly, per se, but I made some fatal errors.
The first error was overtraining in the two weeks following the 20 miler. I did every midweek run at 8 min pace or less, and the long runs were faster than marathon pace as well. This was bad, but especially because of error #2, which was not running enough weekly mileage. Not running the extra midweek run that Lina did (according to Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 plan) made me, overall, weaker. Certainly, I was able to do our weekly long runs and feel good doing them, but I became susceptible to being thrown off by any little thing. Running too fast after the 20 miler was one such thing.
The third and final error that I made was not eating enough in the week leading up to the marathon. I don’t think I under-ate for a normal person, but I under-ate for someone planning to run 26.2 miles in 4 hours. What makes me think this is the fact that I didn’t change my eating habits at all, and given that I was tapering in the days before the race, I wasn’t even feeling as hungry as I normally do. Thus, I ate the amount that a sedentary adult would, which (surprise!) is not enough for a marathoner. Seriously, duh.
All kidding aside, I made some rookie mistakes that caught up with me. Lina put in as many as 12 more miles a week than I did over the course of the past four months, which when you think about it, is quite a lot of extra miles! She deserved to run a 3:52. I’m not saying that I didn’t deserve a good time, but of the two of us, I’m glad I’m the one that bonked. I’m also, weirdly, not upset by epically failing to meet my time goal because it would be a lot worse to miss it by a few minutes. And more importantly, I kind of like my crazy story! Let’s be clear that I NEVER want that to happen again, but I feel like I lived a lot on Sunday. That’s kind of cool.
For Chicago, Lina and I plan on doing Hal Higdon’s Advanced 1 plan, primarily because the midweek runs incorporate tempo runs, speedwork, and hills, and we’re both craving that sort of structure. The weekly mileage is higher than the Novice 1 plan (obviously), and even though I just said I needed more mileage, I may omit one of the short recovery runs each week. I’ve said it before that I never want to run more than 5 days a week, and I mean that. I will, however, be going from running 3 days a week to 5, so I’ll get that added mileage easily.
To finish this post, I just have to share the hilarious story of Lina’s race pics, which we got today. Around 11 am this morning, I received this text:
And a few hours later…
Lina’s sense of humor is amazing, and I love that she can laugh at herself. Here is the post of Skinny Runner‘s that stars Lina. I hope that between our pictures and our run recaps we’ve convinced everyone of how glamorous we are.