In November I tried several new things: a Krav Maga class, a cathartic movement class, and I attempted to change my mindset for my 2nd full marathon. Out of the three, the marathon was definitely the most memorable experience.
At the beginning of the month I had set my goal:
I signed up for the 2018 Philadelphia Marathon earlier this fall. This would be my 2nd marathon. My first one was pretty terrible. I panicked half-way through, walked a few miles, was pretty hard on myself for not achieving the time I was looking for, and was in a lot of pain by the end. This time, I want to try to enjoy the Marathon as a victory lap for all of the training I have completed this fall. Regardless of the outcome, my primary goal is to have fun!
Re-reading that serves to remind me that things often don’t go as planned, despite the best of intentions. I did start the race with the goal of having fun. However, as soon as my wave hit the start line my competitive nature kicked in.
From the start, I was monitoring my pace and calculating my race time. The course was more challenging than I expected, I was exhausted from training, and I was concerned about some pain I had been having in my foot. And there were hills! I did not expect the hills! I spent the first nine miles of the 26.2 calculating times, being disappointed by my mileage pace, and generally being grouchy. The first 9 miles were definitely not fun.
At mile 9 I landed funny on a downhill and tweaked my toe right where it had been bothering me. I kept running, but the pain in my foot was increasing. I almost quit at the half, and I almost quit again at mile 14. Now I was not having any fun, and I was in pain, and I was barely running.
I kept falling further and further behind. The 2nd half of the Philly marathon is a long out and back. I soon started seeing people I knew running back. They were almost done and I still had about 10 miles to go! I still was definitely not enjoying the experience. At this point my hips tightened up and I had slowed down to basically a walk (which later became a limp). But, the good news was that the pain in my foot wasn’t getting any worse.
I decided to stick it out and see how far I could get, as long as I didn’t think I was making my injury any worse. And, an amazing thing happened around this point. Since it was now clear there was not going to be any PR, I started to relax…and actually started to have fun.
I started to pay more attention to the crowd, and was lucky to see many people I knew cheering. And I started to pay attention to the other runners. I started a few conversations, cheered people on, and stopped to see if I could help when I saw someone who was injured. And I paid significantly less attention to my watch!
I’ll be honest, it was still really, really hard. And it took forever! And I definitely still had my moments of grouchiness.
But…several hours later… I did eventually make it to the finish line!
I received the same medal as everyone else, and I learned a few lessons from this race that I will take with me going forward:
- I really enjoyed talking to people along the course. Both spectators and other runners.
- I do believe that the race should be the victory lap for all of the training. Watching my watch and constantly calculating times totally negates this feeling.
- I’m tougher then I give myself credit for. I found out a few days after the race that I had a stress fracture in my foot – from before I started the race. I had an MRI the week prior to the race for something unrelated and I didn’t get the results until a few days after the run. If I can complete a marathon (even walking) on a stress fracture what else can I do that I never thought possible? (Note that I do NOT recommend running injured, I had gotten my foot checked out and was cleared to run on race day).
In the end, having the original goal in mind to have fun and relax definitely helped me to continue in the race when it got really tough. I firmly believe I only finished because I changed my mindset from finishing at a certain time, to having fun and seeing if I could also complete the 26.2.