Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Marathon?

I mentioned yesterday in my race recap that I never realized I could learn so much about my training and running another marathon.  I’ve kind of had to let it all marinate in my head and heart a bit more and I’m still analyzing everything and really just letting it all sink in.  I’m not afraid of a marathon.  I’ll say it again. I’m finally not afraid to run another marathon.  YES!!TobaccoRoadMarathon

I’ve lived in fear of a marathon every time I’ve run one.  OBX was my first marathon and I had no idea what to expect.  Kiawah was where my fear showed up and stuck.  It went away a bit in Richmond, knowing that I ran it well, but I was in such pain at the end, that it took away from the fact I had a 20 min PR from my first full in OBX.  By Wrightsville, it felt like running one was such a crap shoot.  City of Oaks made me like the marathon distance.  It’s like the marathon and I came to some mutual respect.  I finished that race so happy and so proud that I finally found a way to run a marathon that works for me.  This weekend, I conquered my fear.  Finally.

I always thought that it controlled me and whatever happened was out of my hands and to a certain degree that’s entirely true.  There are a lot of factors that go into running a marathon that I can’t control, but what I can control is me and my mind.  And that’s where my fear has been hiding…in my mind.  I was the one who never just ran in the moment.  I was always stressing myself about a finish time, what was going to happen at mile 20, how bad was I going to fall apart, etc.  I finally let that all go and I just ran.  I actually ran knowing that would probably all happen (the wall, the falling apart, etc), but I didn’t care.  I’d deal with it when and if it would happen.

Straight Facts

  • MAF training works for me.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  It’s not for everyone, but what I do know is that I’ve successfully completed two marathons using it. I’m going to continue using it as I transition into my Fall races.
  • Since City of Oaks, I was able to take 6:30 minutes off of my marathon time at Tobacco Road.  (The elevation gain for both were similar too: City of Oaks 971ft and Tobacco Road 941ft so it’s not like I went from super hilly to pancake flat).  Weather was actually better temperature wise in City of Oaks.
  • I ran both marathons using a max HR of 145 for as long as I could.  I let my HR come up to 150, then to 165.  I never was able to run a single mile under 10 min at City of Oaks.  I had 6 miles under 10 at Tobacco Road.
  • My last 6 miles of Tobacco was the strongest last 10K of any marathon I’ve run yet.
  • I know I that I can have success not following a traditional training plan.  For City of Oaks, I followed a traditional training plan with speed work, tempo runs and 20 milers.  For Tobacco Road, I never ran a 20 miler, just back-to-back runs.  Our highest weekend mileage total was 30.4 miles at Gasparilla.  I never ran any speed work either.  I just ran miles.  Lots of them.  I always made sure my weekly mileage matched the same mileage I ran on my traditional plan.
  • I only took 2 shot bloks for all 26.2 miles and I really didn’t need them.  It was more of a safety net than a necessity.  My body was successfully burning my fat for fuel and I never felt that heavy-legged feeling throughout the race.  I never felt like I needed the fuel to keep going.
  • Decreased muscle soreness.  By yesterday, I had little to almost no soreness.  I’m not sure what attributed to that at all, but it’s definitely something I noticed.  I had to stop myself from running more than a mile yesterday.  I told myself I’d take off 3 days (other than my slow mile jog to keep my streak up).  I can’t wait to run today!

Thoughts and What I Learned

  • I can run smartly and still go after huge goals.  I thought for a long time that I might have to choose.  I wasn’t sure that I could still train properly for a marathon without wearing myself out each time.
  • I went into this marathon nervous because I had not run a 20 miler.  Apparently, the back-to-back runs mimicked the long runs well enough to translate into the marathon.  Another bonus, I was never out there past 3+ hours on a long run either.  There is some information supporting this idea.
  • I’m not trying to qualify for anything.  I’m not an elite runner.  So why do I necessarily have to train like one?  I can use a plan that works for me and I can run marathons in a way that works for me.
  • I’m just running.  That’s all I’m doing…running.  Some races I may have a PR; most races I won’t.  What I can do is to be happy and celebrate each accomplishment and be grateful for the experience.

And most importantly,

I’m not afraid of the marathon monster!!

I think it’s kind of funny that I posted this on Saturday…maybe it was foretelling of the kind of experience I’d have at Tobacco Road, but I’m posting it again.  Just as a reminder.  Be you!  All you! IMG_4319-0

Happy Week!


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6 thoughts on “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Marathon?

    • I think you have to be fearful of it to make sure you are properly ready for it. Luckily with the first one, oblivion is bliss!! It’s the second one that will get ya. No matter what, take the chance!! Running a marathon is an amazing experience. You got it!! 🙂

  1. I’ve run two marathons so far and about to run my third. The first two were both MCM and next up is Paris. I’ll be running MCM again in the fall but I really want to branch out to some others!

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