Sunday, December 19, 2004

Marathon 101

4 months ago I decided to try a marathon. The first 2 months I did great. Running 5 times a week and building up to a 10+ mile long run on the weekends. Then I struggled with the Marine Corps 1/2 marathon on a hot and humid day but managed to finish. I continued my training a few weeks and then came down with a nasty cold that put me down for a week. Then I was off to Hawaii and I.... didn't get much running in. Following that I put alot of time into passing my NATOPS test and checkride. So my training fell to the wayside. I did manage to do a 10 miler last weekend and a handful of short 3-5 milers during the past 2 weeks. But, I was not in great shape for a 26.2 mile marathon. Oh well. Unlike my 1/2 marathon experience I was more careful in my preparation the 2 days prior to the full marathon.

Two nights before I got plenty of sleep (yes, 2 nights before is important) and the day before I ate well and planned on pasta. Once again, Rikki only had macaroni and cheese. I didn't make that mistake again though; we went to olive garden. I stuffed myself with salad, bread, and shrimp scampi. I was up at 5:30 this morning to get ready for the long run. I only had about 6 hours sleep, even with a Tylenol PM. I had a shake, banana, plenty of water, and a snickers marathon bar (much better than those nasty power bars). I pocketed my ID card and a spare key for the truck, clipped on my ipod, grabbed a hooded sweatshirt (it was 42 degrees out) and my sunglasses then headed out the door. Start was at 7 am and it was just getting light out. The marathon was on our street so I had a short drive.

Almost forgot, there are certain precautions to make for long distance runs. The only one I did was put those small circular band-aids over my nipples. Running several miles (especially in the cold) will cause some nasty chaffing and even bleeding from the friction of your shirt. I don't think it would have been a problem. But, bleeding nipples are not something to take chances with. Many runners wear spandex or... apply vaseline anywhere there might be friction or rubbing. Even places like your armpits can chaff severely if you have any skin on skin rubbing (made much worse by the salt in your sweat, you can use your imagination for the other trouble areas).

I do have one major regret this time besides my lackluster training the past few months. My Nike shoes. They are 3 years old, used through my senior year of cross country and have lost most of their cushioning and support. I should have bought a new pair months ago. More on this later.

I wore my mitre shorts, technical long sleeve shirt, and a hooded sweatshirt for the race. The technical shirt came with my race packet, I didn't know what it was either. It is just a special polyester that is extremely breathable that sucks the moisture away and lets it evaporate quickly. So during the race my shirt never became soaked in sweat. Everyone else wearing cotton was drenched. I was impressed.

The race started out slow because of the congestion. There was probably close to 1000 people there, The 1/2 and full marathon started at the same spot. I was worried in the beginning I would cramp up or have a problem with my shoes but things went smoothly. About mile 3 I had warmed up enough to ditch the sweatshirt, I threw it on a fence and hoped it would be there when I finished the race. I hit the first water station and slowed to a walk to drink, I can't run and drink. I am thankful for the construction boom because there were porta-potties scattered all over the place with all the homes going up. I stopped at one around the 5 mile marker, I was overhydrated. I started taking 2 waters or gatorades at the water stations a little worried I would get as dehydrated as my last 1/2 marathon. It wasn't necessary. I ended up stopping to use 4 porta-potties during the race. Around mile 8 they had bananas, I grabbed half of one for some energy. Around mile 12 I was surprised at how well things were going. I had never felt that good for that long of a run. The cool weather helped. It stayed in the 40's throughout the race even with the sun and clear skies. My feet started to get a little sore and burn, nothing severe. I passed the 1/2 marathon finish and the number of runners quickly dwindled.

My legs were doing surprisingly well. Mile 15 and 19 they gave out gel packs. They are a quick energy fix. They definitely helped, my stomach was empty. By mile 20 my feet were still the only thing bothering me. They were getting worse. I was still enjoying the run though. I had not needed to start zoning or digging up my deep motivators to keep going yet. Mile 22 things were really hurting and I had to keep reminding myself I was finished as a "student" and would be going to Hawaii to keep myself going. I could feel the blisters forming on my feet. Mile 24 a few blisters had popped and I could feel my big toenails seperating (lack of support on the toes causing my toes to bend back too far). The last 2 miles were excruciating. I slowed to a crawl of a jog but I willed myself not to stop and walk. The last mile was definitely the longest of my life. But I made it and the crowd at the finish helped me pick up the pace again. They announced everyones name as they crosse the finish line and I got my medal!

My legs were tired, but fine. The only problem was my feet. I took off my shoes and socks and walked on the grass. I was surprised to see no blood. Though as Rikki was quick to comment my feet were swollen. Numerous blisters and my big toenails are starting to darken. Afraid I might lose them. I got up and stuffed myself with the free food around the finish line. Vegetable soup, Panera bread, power bar, chips ahoy cookies, and another banana. They had free massages if you wanted to wait in line and a medical tent, I didn't bother. I drank 3 propel fitness waters. They were really good, sweet taste without the overpowering flavors of gatorade. I hobbled back to the truck and drove to pick up my sweatshirt, it was still there. I headed home for a long hot bath and icing of the feet. I feel pretty good though I should have taken a nap. We'll see how I'm doing in the morning. Another goal accomplished.

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