When I completed my half marathon last September, the first words out of my mouth were, “I am so done! I have no desire to do this ever again!”
Two days later, when I had mostly recovered, I started to think about whether I should in fact stop there. When I did some research, I found that the maximum mileage for marathon training was 20 miles…only 7 miles more than a half marathon! How could I resist the tempation then?
So I set a reasonable time frame and started training. I completed the training in four months but I had to wait for three months for a more popular marathon (and better weather). The wait was the hardest but it did give me a chance to fine tune a few things which I think were huge factors for my success:
- Dedicated weight training to put let stress on the knees and joints, and to help with speed.
- Pacing on long runs to avoid the ‘hit the wall’ scenario towards the 20 mile mark.
- Race day pacing strategy models built on an Excel spreadsheet…I called the models ‘Optimistic’, ‘Conservative’ and ‘Severe Tank’! 😀. Believe me, this helped my mental game immensely on Race day. It helped me understand how much I could afford to slow down and still finish on time.
After a long three months, Race day came along. The week leading up to it was the most stressful! I think it was a combination of things:
- Fear of the unknown
- Fear of the known
- Fear of failure
- Fear of unfavorable weather
- Did I say fear of failure? ? 😀
The course was structured as a loop which resulted in a few mind games. When I was on mile 14, I saw the elite athletes returning on what was about mile 24! This made me question whether I even belonged there at all. It made me feel like I was not made to do this. It made me wonder why I was putting my body through this. But I had to put all those doubts aside…I had to get to mile 26…even if it took me twice the time of the elite athlete.
Four hours into the marathon, most people disappeared, including some of the cheerleaders and volunteers. This again made me question why I was doing this. It drove home the point that marathons should be completed sooner than what it was going to take me to do it. Once again, I had to remind myself that my only mission that day, was to get to mile 26.
After fighting with strong head winds and a lot of self doubt, I willed myself across the finish line!
It took me six grueling hours! Interestingly enough, my last mile was my fastest mile. I wasn’t particularly proud of my time, but I was just happy that I finished!
The journey that started with a 2 mile training run has finally come to 26.2 end!!!!