Monday, March 10, 2014

How "My Marathon" has changed

So I've been pondering a lot lately how different running a marathon is for me now versus even just last spring.  And this morning one of my #teamwickedbonkproof team members, Amy (yes we Amy's stick together!) was saying how she has never "raced" a marathon, which surprised me since I see her stats all the time and she's a speedy runner.  Even with her speed and all the running she does, she is very nervous for the marathon she just signed up for since this time it will be completely different for her.  This got me thinking "wow I guess what I am feeling happens to a lot of marathon runners at some point!" 
Plitvice Marathon 2011

I ran my first marathon (Plitvice) in June 2011.  I had no expectations as far as time or performance whatsoever.  It was totally "just survive."  My main goal was to just finish it, I could have cared less how long it took me.  Yes more and more people are running marathons, however it's still something that overall not many accomplish.  I was so proud of myself crossing that finish line that I started crying.  It was also one of those things where no one really cared or asked about my time, they would just ask "you ran your first marathon and finished? that's awesome!" There was no follow up as to performance. 

Philly Marathon November 2012 (not a good race outfit!)

Then I ran my second marathon.  Once again I went into it with just the "Finishing is my goal attitude."  I didn't get to run my second marathon until November 2012.  I was pregnant not long after I ran my first marathon and had a c-section early May 2012, which I think is a pretty good reason for why I waited so long between marathons ;-)  So it was not only the fact that my body went through pregnancy and c-section  but also it was ONLY my second marathon.  Maybe the first time was a fluke or that I was so pumped up because it was my first time and this time I might struggle way more.  It felt like a big unknown so in no way was I out to try to get a certain time. In the end I did end up with 4:19 which was actually about 11-12 minutes faster than my first ever marathon.  It felt really good to beat my time but I still was not in "marathon race" mode yet.

OD Marathon March 2013

Then there was my 3rd marathon (I promise I am not talking about every single one of my marathons!).  This is the marathon that pretty much changed it all for me in less than 4 hours.  I went into my 3rd marathon, treating it like a training run.  Emir and I were training for our first 50K.  For our training we ran a 26.2 run together and then only 2 weeks later we were running the OD marathon as our second 26.2 training run.  On our training run the two weeks before the race, I bonked hardcore around mile 19-20.  I thought I was going to have to walk the rest, somehow I made it.  But it took me 4:35 which was actually slower than my first ever marathon.  I felt awful physically during that run.  While slightly disappointing that it was such a hard run for me, I went with the thinking that I was in the middle of 50K training for the first time, so my legs are being worked harder than ever.  But mentally I told myself that I should be prepared for an equally if not harder run two weeks later at the OD marathon.  Because of all this, I totally didn't give the marathon much thought as far as caring about my time or how I felt during it.  It was just a training run that I needed to get done on the road to my first 50K.  You can read exactly what happened in my race report.  Short version is I ended up breaking 4 hours, 3:59.  It was such a shock to me.  Breaking 4 hours seemed like such a long term goal to me and I wasn't even considering trying for a certain time in a marathon for maybe years.  I had literally just started running (at least it felt like it) and I didn't think I could improve speed that much on a distance as long as the marathon in a shorter period of time, I thought for sure it would take years. 
NYC Marathon November 2013

Of course that thrill and excitement got me wanting more.  I want to go faster and try to PR every time I'm out there.  Yes I went from one extreme to the other.  Now I have a different problem.  Now I am so nervous and freaking out when I have a marathon coming up.  In November the couple of weeks leading up the the NYC marathon, I was totally a mess.  And the night before, I could hardly sleep!  I wanted so bad to beat my 3:59 and it was like if I didn't do that then the race was a failure.  It used to be just running the race and being a part of it was enough, that was the enjoyment.  I'm not sure how I feel about these changes.  On one hand, I am super competitive and I love going out and giving it my all.  It's so much fun for me to try to beat my best.  But then if I don't do my best, I feel disappointed and unhappy whereas before I was super happy just to be there running, nothing else mattered. 

 Which leads to where I'm at right now.  I have the OD marathon coming up again in 3 weeks.  And yes I'm starting to get a little freaky!  My PR is 3:55 in the NYC marathon.  My whole reason for doing the OD marathon is to try and beat that time.  We have some major running events coming up, double Blue Ridge and Born To Run 100K, so really I didn't need a marathon but I really wanted it.  So I have one more tough week of training and then I will begin the 2 week taper.  I know it's only going to get worse as the race gets closer.  And just to add to the pressure I put on myself, since I've been working with Coach Caleb, I have the added stress of not wanting to disappoint him!! AHHHHH  ;-)   But the more I think about it, the more I know that this is what keeps me going.  This is why I keep training harder and harder (thanks coach!).  And wouldn't it get boring if after this many marathons I "just want to finish."  I think I would start to feel like "what's the point?"  So despite how crazy I will probably get in the next few weeks, I don't think I would be happy any other way :-)

PS Nothing to do with this entry but we got running tats for our 10 year anniversary!

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