Tuesday, July 11, 2017

After the Marathon

Being on the other side of my second full marathon, I've learned a few more things about running. The OKC Memorial Marathon was a rough race for me.

I started crying after I finished. Not because of the glorious full marathon feels, but because I was so unhappy with my time (5:18 compared to my 4:35 in the fall). After I got over it though, I made sure to stop and pose with my medal.

I'm happy because I'm no longer running.
Here are some things I've thought about since April:

1. Training through the winter and spring was not my favorite. 

When I was first thinking about training for a full, running friends advised me to NOT run the OKC marathon for my first full. They told me that training through the winter and spring is difficult. I'm really glad that my first full was in October. Training through summer and fall was much easier.

Icy bridge on the route
Winter run
I did use a different training format this time, and I liked it better. While I still had weekly mileage goals, I ran less days and implemented more cross training. I ran 1-2 times a week, did speed work once a week, and had a long run once a week. I focused on strength training the other days.

Typical stormy Oklahoma skies
2. I had a lot of rough runs this training round. 

Long runs proved to be super challenging for me. Since last summer, with the distance increasing every couple of weeks, I got slower. I missed some long runs this past training season due to sickness in the house (the kids or me). Running highs were rare. I had a foot injury. All of this led to...

3. Rough running season = rough race.

If you run slow during training, you're gonna run slow on race day. If you have to walk parts of long runs, you'll have to walk during the race some. Go figure, right?

I thought the OKC course was more difficult than the Wichita course, too. Besides the lake, the hardest stretch is around miles 20-23 where it's a straight shot on Classen Boulevard. By this point, it was hot and windy at times, and the end, or even a turn, is nowhere in sight. I was glad to get off Classen and into the Historic District. 

4. Spectators and support help.

I already knew that (any runner who has done a race knows this), but it was very apparent to me in OKC. This race has such a good turnout from the community. Years after the tragedy, the city remembers and honors the lives lost, but also celebrates the resilience of the city and accomplishments of the runners. It's a touching thing to be a part of every year in any capacity.

I did pretty well the first half or so. The first half is the most exciting for this marathon. Lots of spectators and the excitement of the crowd carries you to Lake Hefner (about halfway).


I got to see my parents and kids around mile 11. High fives and hugs gave me some energy.

Then I hit that wretched lake. I had been warned, and I've ran that lake, but experiencing it on race day after 14 miles was a different story. It was raining while I was on part of the lake path, and the wind was blowing so hard, it was blowing lake waves to the path. I was deeply impressed with the volunteers along the lake route. They were soaked and still cheered the runners on. I kept telling myself to just clear the lake, and then I'll worry about the next part. As soon as I cleared mile 17, I was walking and hurting. I called Josh. He asked me, "Do you need me to pick you up?" I replied, "Nope. I'm gonna get this done, but I just needed to tell someone how truly awful I feel right now." He had done the full marathon five years prior and remembered the lake. He also knew I had been sick (see #5 below).


What got me through Nichols Hills and back downtown were the spectators cheering me on. The crowds were sparse by this point, but any time I reached some, it helped. I remember these two teenage girls in Nichols Hills cheering me on around mile 19. I must've looked bad because they yelled at me for awhile to keep going.
Then Jaryn and Tasha surprised me around mile 21 and again about a mile later. Tasha ran with me for a bit talking to me. Their encouragement helped distract me from the pain and reassured me that I could finish.

Finally, I knew I had friends and family (close and across the miles) tracking me online and cheering me on. That support carried me to the finish. After the race, I read the texts and emails sent to me while I was running. I was touched at the care and support people offer.

5. Getting sick a week before a race sucks.

I got the flu (or some awful similar virus) and was in bed several days the week before the marathon. I ached a lot more during the race than I ever had before during runs, but I'm glad I decided to run the full.
And while the training was rough, the training DID get me to the finish. I wouldn't have been able to finish the marathon without the training. That's for sure.

6. I need to be in better shape next full marathon training season. 

A little more lean and faster. That'll be my next post - how I'm going to get there.

So while my second marathon was rough, I'll probably do another one some day. I'm pretty sure I'll attempt the OKC full again. I've convinced myself that running through the neighborhoods of my city is fun. And I really want to beat my time.

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