I’m One Step Closer to the Boston Marathon
The ice cold rain pelted my face, a constant reminder that I was well out of my comfort zone. I was coming up on the 22nd mile of my 2nd ever marathon, this time I was running in Indianapolis and my family came with me to cheer me throughout the race.
I really didn’t want anyone to come, because of my experience in my first marathon, in North Carolina, where I hit the “wall” so bad that I nearly walked my way to the finish. My first marathon was a disaster, it hurt my body so much so that I was still licking my wounds and limping two days after the race.
I did everything right in preparation for my first marathon. I had all the best equipment, I logged quality miles and followed a sound training regimen. My first marathon was set up for me to do very well. The course was flat and perfect. The weather was ideal; however, my race plan was flawed. I went out too fast and didn’t take into account the time I rested during an injury, in which I took 2 weeks off to recover. Needless to say, my legs were not prepared to run the pace I set. I hit the “Wall” by mile 16 and was in a lot of pain. I probably should have dropped out of the race at that point, but I pushed through at a miserably slow pace, which was just a notch above walking. I stumbled through the finish line at 3:49 and made the long journey back home in defeat and in pain, but at least I finished my first marathon.
I learned that in a marathon, the race doesn’t start until around mile 16. I vowed next time I would run a solid, but manageable pace to set me up at mile 16 and then bear down and prepare myself for the real work ahead over the last 10 miles.
The night before my 2nd Marathon, in Indianapolis, I was unsure of myself as I drove to the race headquarters with my family in tow. My legs felt tired, after a long season of training and I still had the memories of my first marathon in the back of my mind.
The morning of the race I woke up to a steady dose of ice cold rain. To make matters worse, I was told the course was challenging with several hills scattered throughout the 26.2 miles. I was determined not to make the same mistake I did in my last race. My primary goal was to run a solid and finish my season strong.
I barely got to the starting line in time, due to the long lines at the port-o-potties. I didn’t get much of a warm-up either. I just took a deep breath and took off when the starting gun signaled the start of the race. It was me, 4,000 other runners, and the bad memory of my last race floating around my brain like a unwanted house guest.
I ran according to my plan, which was to stay between 7:35 to 7:45 per mile and to keep it nice and easy. This was in contrast to my last race, which I ran at 6:55 to 7:05 per mile. When I rolled up to mile 16, I was nervous. This is where I hit the “wall” last time. Hopefully I would have a better experience and my body would push through it.
I passed mile 16 and the wheels did not come off, I felt strong! Each mile continued to tick off one by one, and I felt stronger with each step. When I approached mile 22 a wave of emotion flowed through my body. It was evident that I was running a solid race and my body was responding. This time, my mind and body were in agreement, so I ran faster. I was in 48th overall at the 22nd mile. I spent the last few miles pushing my body and passing runners along the way.
My Dad was surprised when I blew by him at the 25th mile. The look on his face made me smile, because I too was surprised that my body felt as strong as it did. One by one, I passed runners, most of which were hitting the “wall” similar to what I did just a few weeks earlier, but this time I persevered and finished 30th overall and with a time of 3:22, which was 27 Minutes faster than my previous attempt!
I’m still 6 minutes away from qualifying for Boston, but I know I will get there soon. It was a great race and an awesome way to end my season for the year. But more importantly I learned three critical lessons from my first two marathons:
- Respect the distance. 26 miles is no joke. I must come ready to run and ready to push through pain, especially the last 6-10 miles.
- I won’t win the race in the first 16 miles. Know what I’m capable of running and then run that pace and be patient. There is plenty of time to push the pace in the last 10 miles.
- I must be prepared to adjust my goals when life throws me a curve. When I was injured the last few weeks before my first marathon, I thought I could fight through it. Once a variable changes something in my plan, then I must adjust and live to run another day.
What are some the lessons you have learned from your marathon experiences?