Many people make running a marathon one of their goals in life, and last November I was able to check that off my list. I ran the New York City Marathon and had an awesome experience that I will never forget. Upon completion of my first marathon, like everyone said I would – I said I wouldn’t ever do another one. Boy was I wrong. Three weeks later I signed up for another 5 months of hell (aka training). I registered for the Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon, really for the fact that it was a totally different course (flat & PR friendly) that I could potentially crush my first marathon time on.
Training (It Sucked.)
I wasn’t thinking when I signed up for a marathon in May. A SPRING MARATHON. That meant that I had to train through winter. Duh! But that didn’t register in my head when I signed up. I hate the winter and everything that comes with it. Training sucked. I followed a 22 week plan which started off on a good foot but eventually got spotty. Between the cold weather (which wasn’t super extreme, but still too cold for me), and adulting …. I wasn’t 100% in the game. Despite this fact I still carried on, and most times I at least got my long runs in which were the most important (so I was told). I was still confident that I could run this marathon and do just fine.
Race Day (Yay!…I Think)
Fast forward 5 months to race day. Hello May 1st! Damn, it’s already race day?! I felt like May just crept up on me. The day before the race I stood over one of my run buddies place, so we could drive up to the race together in the morning with our other buds. I woke up at 3am, with about 4 hours of sleep in the bag. Not ideal, but I’m always way too anxious to sleep the night before a big race.
I put on my race gear, KT taped myself up, ate breakfast and I was set to go. I usually wear glasses, but for races I always put my contacts in because they slide down my face while I’m running. The last thing I had to do was put my contacts in and I was set to go. But boom! Here’s the first issue of the day: one of my contacts leaked out and got dry and crunchy. Shit. I only have one good eye to run with. Yup, I ran with one contact in. I joked that my race photos would all come out with one of my eyes closed, and that wasn’t far from the truth.
Arrival (Way Too Early.)
My run buddies and I got to the race a whole hour and a half early. I had already eaten and the race didn’t start for almost 2 hours after we had arrived. We stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts to grab coffee etc., I didn’t get anything because I had eaten already and I didn’t want to eat anything new before a race. I had extra granola bars in my bag if I wanted to munch on something, since I’ve done that before and know they’re safe. We eventually headed into the parking area, bagged up our belongings for bag check, took photos, and headed for the corrals. At this point the weather had showed that it would rain, but toward the end of the race. I was confident that it would hold out.
Race Time (Let’s do this!)
Nervous wasn’t even the word! I felt like I was a first timer again. I couldn’t stop fidgeting. My corral horn blew and we were off to a start. I started out nice and easy, I felt good. That feeling only lasted till about mile 8. I hadn’t even hit mile 10, and I was already hungry again. I knew I should have eaten closer to race time. By mile 10, the constant drizzle had gotten worse, I was hungry, and I was questioning whether or not I wanted to turn off with the half marathon runners or keep going with the full marathon.
The Halfway Mark (Still Too Far, Damnit)
I crept upon mile 13. I decided to keep running the full, but it was an absolute mindfuck to watch the half runners turn and just a few others turn up the marathon route with me. At mile 13, I was elated to see that someone was there handing out bananas. That banana saved me!! But it was only half. Better than nothing, since I had left my granola bars in my bag and forgot to put them in my running jacket. What a rookie move. I was so hungry that I even thought to pick up half a banana I saw on the ground and eat it. These thoughts drum up so quickly and in an instance I was running right by it. I decided not to pick up the banana and eat it. At this point I had also regretted not taking those orange slices some nice lady on the side of the course had cut up for the runners. That had to be about mile 7, I thought if I should stash one in my pocket for later, but I didn’t. Too late now, gotta keep it moving.
Mile 18 (Felt like 56)
At this point the rain had gotten heavier, the winds picked up, my shoes were like sponges, AND my gloves were soaked. I had to take them off to grab my gels out of my pouch. The rain had me soaked through my jacket down to all 3 layers I had on. I was a wet cold mess and I still had 8.2 miles to go. I couldn’t even count anymore I just kept thinking “hit mile 20 and you’ll be fine, keep moving”. I got to the boardwalk finally. On the way it was lonely, not many people were near me on the course, the people left on the course were pretty scattered out. I got to mile 20 and my friend Nicole was there waiting for me! At this point I felt so low and defeated. Seeing her gave me a boost of energy. I was happy someone was out there for me despite the cold rain and wind! She’s the best!
I sped up a bit and tried to keep it up along the rest of the way but I had to keep stopping in between because my wet sneakers and socks were rubbing and I didn’t want to get a blister. On top of that I had to keep looking down because I didn’t want to slip or jump into another puddle. By mile 23 I felt like I had to use the bathroom. Never ever have I used the bathroom during a race or long run. I saw it like this: since I’ve already killed my chance of getting my PR I might as well empty the tank and finish the race feeling comfortable. So that I did. The course was pretty clear so there was no line for the portapotty. I was shocked I even found tissue in there and that it didn’t smell like dump. That was a plus.Peeling wet clothes down to use the bathroom doesn’t feel nice. Just thought you should know. I was in and out and back on the road again.
The Homestretch….Is It Over Yet??
The last 3.2 miles felt like 10. I just wanted to be done. I saw the photographer at the end and he told me he knew I had a smile in me. I told him I’d fake it for a second. Heck, I faked feeling okay the whole race – why stop now? It’s all mental really. My body wasn’t physically in pain, like an injury or anything, I was just cold, wet and miserable. I hadn’t trained in these conditions so I damn sure wasn’t used to it. I’m always cold to begin with so this was pretty damn brutal. Soon I had the finish line in sight. Every runner knows that feeling you get when you see the line. There were people along the sidelines cheering their friends in. I didn’t see any of mine though. I know the conditions were pretty bad but I got a little sad because no one was there for me. That little bit of motivation is what keeps us runners going when it’s the hardest thing to do. I kept going and passed the line. I made a bee line straight for the bananas table. I then heard someone screaming “Tiny, Tiny!”. Waving like a maniac, my coach was waving me in after I crossed.
It’s Really Over? I Don’t Believe It.
He walked over, let me know where to go change my clothes and said he would meet me there. I went to pick up my bag from the trucks and headed to the restaurant where he said some of team was. I walked backwards down three little steps to the back of the restaurant – still delusional. I walked into the back area to a roar of cheering and applause from my fellow run buddies. I was still in shock. I didn’t even know how to react. I was so happy to see everyone there waiting cheering. They were much more happy than I was but it brought my spirits up. It’s really amazing to have a team that really supports and sticks with one another. I walked over to my seat and immediately pulled out my recovery powder so I could chug it down real quick before I went to change. I was jittery and just so anxious to scarf it down.
I’m Not Doing This Again. Nuh Uh.
Post marathon I can’t say that I feel bad! Unlike after the New York City Marathon last year, I felt good after this one. Despite the conditions I finished the race and I remained uninjured. I made a few changes to what I did this time around when the race was done with. For starters, after NYC last year, I didn’t bring my recovery powder, and that’s what helped with the soreness. I also chugged down an emergenC packet in the car on the way home. I was sore for over a week AND hella sick for 3 weeks after my first marathon, but this time I had no soreness by Wednesday and I wasn’t sick. I kept moving, warming the muscles, stretching, added some compression and rolling, and I feel great, surprisingly.
I can’t say that I am interested in doing another full marathon after this one, though. I have decided that I want to do half marathon distance and lower from this point on. I am also focusing on exploring life as a triathlete, as my first sprint is also in 2 weeks. If you have the chance to train for and run a marathon, go for it. It’s something I think everyone should do at least once. I wasn’t able to crush my first time with this second marathon, so I am slightly bummed, but I finished and that’s all that matters. I earned my time of 5:21 on the course – that’s with plenty of walking – so I guess that ain’t too shabby after all.