Random Ruminations: Running a Marathon
Let’s assume I won’t run a marathon again (a wise assumption). There are a few things I’d like to remember about my experience that I didn’t properly record in my first post, so thought I’d recount them here. To give you fair warning, this may not be the most entertaining post for you (since I’m really writing it for my future self), so feel free to skip it. My feelings won’t be hurt; these are literally 10 random ruminations.
1. Perception is a funny thing. When talking to my running buddies, I get the impression everyone has finished a marathon–at least one! When I talk to my non-running buddies, I get the impression that only crazy people run marathons. While that last bit may be true, I’ve found a statistic that says 1/2 of 1% of the American population have run 26.2 miles, and in 2011 (the latest year data was available), (only?) 551,811 people did so.
2. Weight isn’t important. A friend told me that when he trained for his first marathon, the weight “just came off.” That didn’t exactly happen for me (much to my disappointment). I gained 4 pounds on our October 7-day Disney cruise and it took me a few weeks to realize that this was when I started ramping up my mileage, so the weight was from muscle mass, not necessarily from eating voraciously (well, it wasn’t *all* from eating that way). I remember sharing the epiphany with my friend: “Maybe training for a marathon isn’t the best time to be trying to lose weight!” She was pleased that I came to the revelation but likely concerned it took me so long to get there…
3. Nutrition is. In case I should need to remember what I consumed later, here was my plan: a peanut butter granola bar for breakfast, two handfuls of raisins on even miles and every fifth mile, 3 energy chews (Orange Blossom flavor and Honey Stinger brand, organic with no caffeine) and a couple of swallows of Fruit Punch Gatorade. Because it was so hot, I also supplemented with some swigs of water from the water stops, but tried not to overdo it because I didn’t want to have to stop to use the restroom.
4. Images lie. In my last post, I pictured my posing-for-the-camera face that was taken probably 20 or 30 minutes after I finished. This photo was taken by Hubby as soon as we caught sight of each other after the finish line, so probably only 5 minutes after the race. For those of you not familiar with my facial nuances, I will tell you that it’s equal parts relief of seeing familiar faces, me trying valiantly not to cry, pain, and what passed for a smile at the moment.
5. Like my shirt? Two complete strangers complimented my Sesame Street’s The Count jersey. My dad bought it for me.
6. Salt crystals are real. We all have a vague idea that sweat is salty, right? But did you know that if you sweat a lot, your skin can actually become covered in a thin layer of salt? This happened to me at the end of my run! And I’m SUPER bummed I didn’t have the presence of mind to photograph it. It was pretty badass, I’m not going to lie.
7. Recover smart. Thanks to extra strength Tylenol, two post-race epsom salt baths and a massage the day after, my recovery wasn’t that bad. Monday was pretty bad and when I went back to work on Tuesday, I was still hobbling a little bit, but by Wednesday I was pretty much back to normal. And this morning I had my very first, “You know, if the weather was nicer I bet I could totally beat my time” thought. No, I don’t think I’ll ever do it again. But I’ve heard marathons are similar to childbirth: they’re painful in the moment but after a time, you start to forget how bad they were…
8. Things I didn’t do: train past 20 miles, get a medical deferral (I was entitled to one but wanted to get it out of the way), lose any toenails (yes, this is a danger; two of mine turned black but that was the end of it), stop to use a port-a-potty, take any pictures along the route, think that I wouldn’t finish.
9. Things I regret: that it was so hot/humid (outside of my control), walking the last two miles (I did not “dig deep” as I hear athletes are apt to do; I just gave up).
10. I inspire people…including me. I went from first hospital visit (July 2012, for lung issues even) to first marathon (January 2013) in under 6 months. I’ve had people say that I’m an inspiration, and you know what? I am. To myself. If ever I come across something daunting, I can look back at this experience and be like, “I’ve got this. If I can run a marathon, I can do ANYTHING.” As my dad used to say, “Damn, I’m good!”
The takeaway: I ran a marathon. That’s pretty cool.