Ahhh, my first full marathon... Complete!
With a few stories along the way of course ;) It was another Cannonball Event (so completely self-catered and self-supplied), and was hosted from the back of someone's garden in outer Copenhagen. It was a loop course of 7 rounds, all on road. I hadn't been there before but kind of knew the area but, of course, managed to get well lost attempting to find it. Resulting in me arriving 2 minutes, 2 MINUTES, before the start!!!!!
I had to leave my bike with all of my stuff (phone, ipod, drinks, food, wallet, money, identity card, my CPR card....Everything) in the middle of nowhere, and rush to where the group was gathering to take off! I had one of 2 choices - miss the start and find where to put my stuff, but I didn't know the loops and would miss the official launch, or risk it and leave everything and hope for the best. Naturally, I chose the latter option.
No time to get my ipod to put on my music, no time to put my hair up, no time to take a last sip of water or lay out my provisions for the run... Just sprinting to the start line to start the marathon :=D That whole first round all I could think about was whether I would see my stuff or not (while also laughing at myself for starting so hectically ;).
Thankfully it was a very quiet residential area, so as I (rather anxiously) turned the corner to come into where we had started, I was thoroughly relieved to see my bike exactly how I had left it, with my huge duffel bag stuffed into the front basket. I thanked the universe, and then had to take a bit of time wheeling my bike to the house, and getting out my things and finally getting my ipod! NOW I could finally start my marathon in peace.
I needn't have worried about having my ipod for the first few rounds anyway, as everyone was so friendly and we all got chatting. Once they new it was my first marathon, they all turned to super support mode, and were giving me tips and encouragement the whole way - it was really such a nice group to run with.
Many of them were part of Klub 100, so had run over 100 marathons. One guy who was the youngest there (20 I think) - and also the first to finish - was actually the youngest to be part of Klub 100, and just breezed along... I think he was on his last lap when I was on my second hehe ;) Some others were Ironman triathletes and ultra runners and using this as part of their weekly training plan. So I had some good company, and was inspired by many of their stories and dedication to pushing their limits.
I have to say... it feels good :=) Running a marathon has been on the back of my mind for the past 5 years, and in between getting constantly getting injured from overtraining (sadly always from running - but that was back when I was ONLY doing cardio, and no strength training, and running at least 1 hour a day, and on top of that, those were my raw vegan days, so lacking optimal nutrition for recovery) and then getting ill with autoimmune hyperthyroidism, I kind of let it go as something I just wasn't physically capable of. Even after running half marathons here and there, at the end of each one I still say to myself - "I can do a half marathon, but a full one is still DOUBLE the distance - I just can't do it!".
It's always a nice thing to shatter a negative belief system and build up some self-efficacy along the way ;)
Having said that - I still got injured. Yes, at around kilometre 32 I was nearly convulsing with pain as a sharp, sharp dagger was slicing up my foot through my heel with every step I took. I thought it might be my old metatarsal fracture injury getting irritated, and I knew it probably wasn't a good idea to keep running on it. But in all other ways I felt absolutely FANTASTIC - I surprised even myself - mentally, energy-wise and muscle wise I felt extremely strong until the very end! In fact, one of the ultra runners came along besides me at just about half way to chat and check in, and said I was looking very strong, but maybe going too fast for my first marathon... so kindly offered the 5min run, 1min walk strategy, along with a super fascinating personal story where he described how he ran his first 50 miles using that way, and felt fresher than when he started. I appreciated his sharing, and would have considered using it if I felt fatigue coming on (which I guess kind of misses the point, as you use it BEFORE you fatigue so you don't ever reach that point haha), but I just felt too good!
It was just my darn foot that was giving me such pain... But I kept going for the last 10km and just used the pain to hone in on my mental training and breathing techniques. I shifted my gait to land on a different part of my foot, and that would work for a bit, but then the pain would creep (or leap!) back. The looping nature of the course was actually really soothing, and made it so I could just count down the number of loops I had left.
The final loop was a shorter one, and we were all together in a group by then. I actually wanted to go faster and see if I could go under 2h, but the fact that it was such a social, casual event and a closely-knit, friendly group made me stay with the others cheering and laughing, and just enjoy cruising to the end of my first marathon. Lovely :=)
The energy the group created, and the fact that most of the runners there did a marathon at least once a month, kind of created this contagious attitude of "it's just a marathon! no biggie!". I actually think this helped me a lot to break down the marathon into something manageable, a lot less scary, and even into something I "just do". In fact, when we finished, one of them asked me, "so are you coming to the next marathon on Sunday?" :=) (and I think I would have said yes, if I wasn't going to be in another country by then).
So, all in all, a fantastic experience - with pain, pleasure, tears and laughing. I had absolutely NO muscle soreness at ALL after the run. Kind of a strange phenomenon to me, but I'm happy about it! - guess it means I'm recovering well! I also think my DECREASE in training volume recently has helped with that, especially in training intensity. I've taken a break from crossfit as I did it nearly all summer, doing a WOD 5-7 times a week and really want to reset my CNS. So focusing on more yoga and mobility, with resistance training being more calisthenics and super slow and controlled weights.
I had to stop running for the past few weeks to let my foot heal. X-Rays showed no fracture or break, but I know that an MRI is best to pick up stress fractures, but couldn't get that done. The doctor who examined my foot later (after 10 days as it was still acutely painful) said it was probably inflammation of the joint due to the repeated pounding on the road. Make sense to me ;) Again, probably didn't help that I had no structured running training behind me, so to prevent this, I just need to build up my running again, slowly and consistently.
My Garmin states a time of 4:14 total time (including my break to wheel my bike into a safe place haha), and I'm quite happy with that. But I'm happiest about just FINISHING, and enjoying the run along the way.
One down, only 99 more to go before Club 100! ;)