Running a marathon is a unique experience. Any person who has completed one will tell you that it has made a large impact on their life. It’s true. I feel the same way.
The training for 26.2 miles makes one stronger, more confident, and more patient. Did I say it’s also relaxing? Don’t laugh. It’s special for everyone. 😉
I decided last year that 2017 would be the year to run a marathon.
I had been running over the past 3 years and completed a few half-marathons, but didn’t train consistently.
Marathon distance is not for the faint hearted. 42.195 km is a beast. I decided that I needed to get as much support and advice as I could if I wanted to succeed. And so I joined a 26-week training program. I started running with my group regularly every Sunday. It was the only day of the week when my schedule was free. If I was traveling that Sunday I made sure to cover the distance on my own. (it was tough)
At first the training seemed relatively easy. We were in 8 to 10 mile territory. I was mentally prepared for a half-marathon distance, but couldn’t keep a consistent pace. By week 13 the distance became more demanding. It was the first time I covered 14 miles outside of the race. By week 16 and 17, we were doing 16 and 19 miles. I survived, but couldn’t imagine running further than that. I’ve hit 21 miles by week 21. I was ecstatic! It was an arduous workout over 5 hours long, but I completed it and was feeling amazing. I pushed myself for another 21 miles the following week and felt much stronger, but still apprehensive of the full distance because it meant running for another hour. My running friends reassured me that if I’ve come that far in the training I would be certain to cross the finish line. I listened, but it was difficult to believe it. Once I recovered from the long run later that week, the encouragement had slowly sunk in. By the end of that week I was ready to conquer the SF Marathon.
However, the race was still 3 weeks away and I was anxious. The last few weeks were light on training. I was unable to join my group for the 22-mile course preview, since I had an 8 hour long class that day. The following day the weather was in the 90s and had a strict deadline at work, so I decided to skip the run and focus on work instead. The week before the marathon my schedule at work was pretty rough and I opted out for sleep. To catch up on the missed training, I decided to do 6 miles on both Saturday and Sunday. At this point I’ve put in 380 training miles. I took it easy the week of the marathon and paid special attention to eating healthy. I also made sure I got enough carbs and stayed hydrated.
I walked about 3 miles around the city the day of the expo. I figured it was as good as a shakeout run.
I slept about 4.5 hours the day of the race. I was very excited, but felt worried. It was really difficult to fall asleep. The course had a 6-hour cutoff limit. Would I make it? Would I be able to keep my pace consistent and stay with my group throughout the entire race?
I was in my corral, Wave 6, around 6:05 am and started running by 6:15 am. We started off slowly. Then miles started to fly by. I picked up a 5:10 expected finish time bracelet at the expo just for fun because it didn’t seem attainable. I kept checking it out of curiosity. It was my goal to follow along for the first half, but I couldn’t believe that we were still keeping up with the pace by mile 15. Most importantly I was still running along my friends. It was an amazing feeling! Eventually our group started to spread out. I still felt strong other than a few cramps in my legs and kept pushing myself. I did not want to fall behind. Around mile 23, when the finish line seemed miles away I was overjoyed to discover my friend on the course! It was a surprise and made me so happy! This gave me an extra boost of mental strength and all of a sudden the race didn’t seem so bad.
The last mile was the hardest. The sun was out and shining brightly, I was incredibly thirsty, and couldn’t wait to be done! I could see the finish line in the distance, but it still seemed incredibly far away. Then it started moving closer and closer and eventually it was close enough for me to cross it. It was a great feeling!
Not only did I finish, I finished 42 minutes sooner than I expected! The training worked and I became a marathoner!
But I would not have done it without my group. Thank you everyone at Run 365 who has made this training a positive and successful experience! I would highly recommend them to anyone who has a dream of finishing a marathon and wants it to become a reality.
… Stay tuned. I’m definitely running another one this fall! It’s just the beginning.