The 2013 Baltimore Running Festival. My first full marathon. Done.
Running this completed my goal of achieving the Maryland Double this year: half marathon at the Frederick Running Festival and either the half or the full at the Baltimore Running Festival. I went with the full. (Here’s how the half went, in case you missed it back in May.)
26.2 miles. 4 hours, 52 minutes, 14 seconds. For my first venture I’m very proud of that finish. I had this odd experience about a mile in. I was pacing exactly where I wanted to be, but all of a sudden I just wanted to finish well. Finish strong. I had over 25 miles of unknown experiences ahead of me and I just wanted to be sure that I endured it all and crossed the finish line knowing I did my absolute best for the whole time I was out there. Mission accomplished.
Some people write great race recaps. I am not one of those people. I really enjoy reading someone’s recap and seeing how they navigated the logistics and details of race day, but writing one becomes a stressful experience for me once the OCD, or ADD, or… PTSD? AC/DC? OPP? You know me. I don’t know. Whatever my issues are. Once they kick in I start freaking out about whether to include this detail or that detail and then everything gets wacky.
So here’s my version of a recap. It’s more about what I learned and observed than what I actually did.
A few thoughts in no particular order:
• It isn’t possible to train too hard. Yeah, yeah, I know it is. Technically. Be smart. But really, it’s not. The harder you train, the more ready you are and the easier the recovery. Example: other than sore muscles and a crazy toe nail I felt good. It took a couple days for the soreness to go away and it seems like it took a few more days to feel rested again (I was constantly tired), but relatively speaking, training as hard as I could lead to a speedy recovery. It works like that in life too. Train hard and recovery after a struggle will be fast and easy. And maybe even a little fun.
• Never miss the opportunity to run a hill. Hills throughout training provide additional conditioning that will prove beneficial during the main event. If we miss the opportunity to run a life hill – to struggle and focus and push – we are missing conditioning that will benefit us down the road.
• It’s the middle part that really sucks. My experience matched up almost exactly with everything I read and heard. Imagine that. Somewhere between miles 17/18 and 21/22ish, everything gets very much bad. The advice? Find a way to keep going. Slow down, speed up, crawl, log roll, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter as long as forward motion is involved. Just. Don’t. Stop.
• “We’re total strangers but I am so proud of you.” I saw this sign a couple of times around the course. It surprised me how much power that phrase carried. “I am so proud of you.” I needed to hear that. It was a gift. Who needs to hear that from me? Who can I give that gift to?
• Always make it home. This has been one of those odd phrases that stuck in my head at some point during training. Part motivation, part safety reminder, it kept me focused at various times. It also hit me that I have the most incredible home waiting on the other side of the finish line. I couldn’t have done any of this without Michelle’s love, support, and encouragement. She and TheBoys waited near the finish line so I got to see them and high five them all just before crossing. Talk about a meaningful moment and a true gift. (Thank you!)
The Baltimore Sun thought it was pretty cool that Michelle and TheBoys came down too. They were interviewed as part of a feature on the festival. In case you missed it, here’s their experience from that day including a link to the article.
So now what? Great question. I will do another marathon; the only real question is when. I’m in the process of looking ahead to 2014 and setting some goals. I’ve got a lot of things swirling so we’ll have to see.
This was physically and mentally the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was a fantastic and oddly spiritual experience that feels difficult to describe. Knowing that Michelle and TheBoys were on the other side of the finish line (figuratively and literally) meant that I won before I started. The lessons learned from training and completing the race are still sinking in and I have a feeling I’ll continue to draw parallels.
I’m still figuring out what’s next. How about you?