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My First Marathon

     

It was a typical sunny afternoon and Virginia, Kathleen, and I were running our usual 4 mile route when I disclosed to the group that a goal of mine was to run a marathon before I turned 30. In my usual procrastinator style, I was fully prepared to start training when I turned 29, but Virginia chimed in with "well I'll do it with you". Kathleen (after some debate) agreed and then went on to find a marathon for us to do together. After searching for an affordable one, without a lot of travel, she signed up for Mobile, Alabama since her sister is moving there and already has a house.

Virginia and I weren't completely sold...in my typical, selfish manner I told the girls I only wanted to do one marathon my whole life, so I want it to be fast and in a cool city. I kind of go all or nothing in my mind most of the time so I wanted to work on my speed and distance until one day, Virginia (who had actually done a full marathon before) said something along the lines of  "26.2 miles is so hard, it would be better to have friends with you than to do it on your own". Have I mentioned that she's a kind and loving voice of reason? So, it took me a while to be fully on board and sign up too (after we already started long runs), but I am so glad I took her advice and did it with friends.

Kathleen hurt her leg in the first few long runs so she stuck with the half marathon instead of the full. If you're a runner, you know the discipline it takes to take the Doctor's "rest" advice is harder than training (mentally and physically)! Kathleen deserves a shout out for how well she handled this set back. She was smart and followed all the advice given to her and included her daily stretches and came out on top without a lasting injury. 

For Virginia and me, we continued past the 15 mile runs on to complete an 18 mile run, then a 20 mile run. At the 18 mile run mark, it was the longest I had ever run and mile 17-18 was downright hard. Then, we set out to do a 20 mile run and mile 18 came and went easily--it was mile 19-20 that was so hard I kept asking Virginia how much longer??  During the full marathon, I fully expected mile 20 to be the hardest because, so far, it seemed the hardest mile was the 20th, but what I found is that the hardest mile is the last.

No matter what distance you are running, that last mile is when you need encouraging words and thoughts because at 25 miles, everything hurts. Like, I could literally feel every rock on the pavement with each step. Instead of talking about how my muscles ached, my feet were sore, and my knees may buckle any moment, we stayed positive. Virginia and I kept saying "this is so easy, so easy", which would make us laugh and take our mind off of how not easy it actually was.


Our pace was pretty consistent because if Virginia felt like walking I would say "no we can do this, let's go!" and if I felt like walking, she returned the favor. Having a buddy helps to keep you going when you don't want to!  Mile 23 was one of our slowest even though we felt like we were going pretty fast. It was around a 10 minute mile, and our pace had been 9:15-9:30 minutes per mile with a faster one being a 9 minute mile. Then, at mile 25, Kathleen joined us to run the last mile to keep our spirits up. She felt bad about crossing the finish line when she didn't run the full but we talked her into joining us because our running trio has not been the same since she's been out. Plus, as mentioned above, the girl is dedicated and would be right there with us if she wasn't hurt. We devised a plan was to have Taylor Swift's music going and Kathleen's comedic relief to help us make it through the last mile. Let me tell you, that helped so much! We are convinced T. Swift is a runner because all of a sudden "lightning on my feet" and "Can't stop, won't stop grooving" became hilarious sentences that were speaking the truth to us and our mile pace picked up to a 9:30 minutes per mile at mile 25. 

Our goal was to complete the marathon by 4 hours and 15 minutes and we did it! Our overall time was 4 hours and 13 minutes!

Remember how I said I only wanted to do one marathon in my whole life? I was wrong, but right now I'm too sore to think about that. 

Moral of the story:
1) Train for the race
2) Run with friends (and T Swift if you need a boost; a little "Fight Song" doesn't hurt either)
3) Be smart and take a running break if you have to so that you can prevent any life long injuries. 

Share your marathon experience below!


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