It has been about two weeks since I ran my first marathon and my feelings towards the event have been ever changing. Even though I have embarked on multiple ultra endurance trail races I really had no idea what to expect of a road race 26.2 miles long. I knew the pace would definitely be faster and the field a little more competitive. I have always enjoyed the laid back nature of trail running and the community it brings. I was excited to get a taste of what it is like to be a “marathoner”. The Wineglass Marathon is a point-to-point course starting in Bath, NY and finishing in the cutest picturesque town, Corning, NY. From what I can remember (I was in another world) the course was beautiful with portions running on back roads, alongside rivers and over old bridges. The days leading up to the race were gloomy, cold, rainy, and windy with talk of a Hurricane on the way. Despite the conditions and only 3 hours away from Canada, our crew decided to add a mini journey to Niagara Falls on Saturday, the day before the race. By the time the sun rose the next morning it was beautiful with highs in the 60's which meant race temperature would be in the 50’s. Perfect running weather.
Though frustrating, sometimes the only way to learn is through trial and error. As both a Graduate Student studying Exercise Physiology and experienced runner I know there are certain things you should not do during a long endurance race; one of them being not going out too fast because once you know (during a race) you have overdone it, it is too late to recover.
Overestimating my fitness I inevitably started out of the gates too hot. The 8 minute pace I was keeping felt like I was cruising until I reached mile 13 (already sore) and instantaneously knew I had gone out too fast. My chances of running a Boston qualifying time were probably gone. I was never upset realizing that ultimately time does not matter and the real reason I was running this race was to simply enjoy the ride. A Boston qualifier would have been a cherry on top instead of the main goal. After a pit-stop in the woods (only to find there was a line of porta-potties literally less than 100m ahead, a trail runner makes any semi-wooded area a bathroom) I struggled to just keep running by the 15/16 mile mark. At this point I deemed every marathoner insane and wondered why someone would want to do this?! For fun?! For this long on a road?! I immediately went into “damage control” mode for the next five miles consuming large quantities of Gatorade, water, a few Ibuprofen and chews in order to try and get back into a rhythm to finish the race as strong as I could. Around mile 18-19 my AWESOME boyfriend, Andrew, who had surprised me all the way from Arizona the day before, picked me up providing me with moral support, and a positive attitude to finish what I had started. It was around mile 21 that I finally started getting my legs back and was able to gradually pick it up each mile.
There was one final bridge crossing before I rounded the corner to see the quaint downtown street lined with trees bursting with bright yellow leaves, people cheering on either side and the long awaited finish line banner hanging between two brick buildings. My emotions were mixed as I knew I was soon about to be basking in the “I just finished a marathon” high I had been picturing for months. I crossed the line and began crying, I didn’t know what else to do! I had just put forth such a mental and physical effort for 3 hours and 48 minutes. All I could say was “wow” and that I would never do that again. Minutes later I was smiling at my accomplishment consuming delicious chicken noodle soup, Coke, and tasty pizza. Of course now that I have stepped back from the pain I experienced and knowing that my best performance is yet to come (I feel as if I have some unfinished business) I am contemplating what marathon will be my next adventure. I am a firm believer that every run provides a learning opportunity, and this run has given me a new found respect for the marathon distance, the people who train and race in this event, and the amount of dedication and discipline it takes to train and run well. As I look forward to some down time, running at my leisure, and hitting the trails, my advice to anyone contemplating the marathon is: DO IT! You won’t regret it. Maybe it will even become a passion.
P.S. Thank you to everyone who logged miles with me and provided support throughout my marathon training. It helped me more than you know!
Fuel intake: ProBar chews (Raspeberry-the best flavor), Clif Bloks (Tropical Punch), Gatorade and water