Guest Post: Running Your First Marathon Part 2

Happy Friday everyone! I’m sure some of you have a long weekend thanks to Veteran’s Day.  I too am off today which is the cause of the latest of today’s post.  Sorry! I know Michael left you with a bit of a cliff hanger!  I’ll turn it over to him…

Welcome Back!

STRETCHING MY LEGS.

I think we signed up for the Memorial Day half marathon here in Boston AND the Chicago Marathon prior to my final presentation, so there were 39.3 miles looming over me for a while.  Our plan was to train and run the half marathon and then roll right into training for Chicago.  Having sat at a desk for 16+ hours a day from October to early February, I was initially enjoying some time back at the gym resuming a workout routine I had developed the previous summer.  Together, Whitney and I were enjoying the extra time together without school interfering, so finding the motivation to get out and run was a challenge.  We didn’t have any definitive training program that we’d be following, but instead we relied on Whitney’s running expertise.  I should admit that prior to deciding to run the half; I had never run more than 6 miles…in my entire life!  I can remember the morning we set out for a 7 miler, I was completely freaked out by such a long run.  I was dreading every inch of that run, fearing that I wouldn’t’ be able to complete it or I’d get hurt or something.  I don’t know what filled me with such anxiety that morning, but after an hour of running I was still alive.  For the next couple of weeks Whitney and I kept lengthening our runs and I continued to struggle as I was out of shape, sore from my gym workouts and not entirely comfortable with the longer runs.  In early May I was forced to sit back down with my thesis work and fulfill one last obligation prior to graduation.  I was using every spare moment to work on this assignment, so Whit and I weren’t able to meet up for our long run.  So I headed out on a Saturday morning in the rain expecting to struggle through the 10 miler, but I didn’t.  In fact, I felt great and by the end was bounding through puddles as I breezed the last mile.  I really felt that I had turned a corner that morning and getting home and texting Whitney my time for the run was an exciting moment as she’d encouraged me and stayed positive during all my bad runs.  There were reasons I had such a good run that morning, but we’ll get to that later.

YOU GOT TO LOSE TO KNOW HOW TO WIN.

Life lessons by my favorite band, Aerosmith.  Well, 1/2 Marathon weekend coincided with graduation.  The culmination of 7+ years of school began on Saturday morning with a time-honored tradition at my school.  The graduates are led, single file, by a jazz band down Newbury Street in Boston to the Old South Church (about 6 blocks) as family, friends, tourists and homeless people look on.  They actually gave me a diploma (fools) and then it was off with my family and friends for a little graduation dinner.  We headed to a swanky steakhouse and the rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying time with everyone, eating as much as humanly possible and only having two celebratory drinks.  So much for carb loading…oh wait, I think there were mashed potatoes or does a crab cake count as carbs?  Afterwards, Whitney and I went back to my apartment and relaxed and prepared for next morning’s race, which conveniently started right outside my apartment building.  Race morning, Whitney gets into her pre-race routine of showering, getting dressed, eats some oatmeal and a banana…and I just follow her lead.  This is completely foreign territory to me, I have no idea how much of what I’ll need to power me through this race and I really hadn’t been regimented during training in regards to a pre-run diet.  We head downstairs, weave through the runners and find a spot at the starting line to wait for the race.  I’m having a full on panic attack and I’m not sure Whitney has a clue about it.  I also realize I have to use the bathroom, so I run all the way back to my apartment…I’m ridiculous.  Back next to Whit at the starting line for another couple anxious moments, evidenced by the fact that I was sweating like a rented mule and we weren’t even moving yet.  Next the National Anthem, a dude yells something incoherent into a loudspeaker and then the gun goes off.  Awesome, we’re running!  It was so congested early on and trying to stay next to Whitney was a challenge.  This was compounded by the fact that Whitney was using her “driving to work in traffic” tactics that most Bostonians (even new ones like Whit) develop…she was slaloming through the crowd like nobody’s business.  Left, right, further left, grunt, right, right, huff…it was exhausting.  Let me just digress here and say this is one of the things I absolutely LOVE about this woman.  She has this game face that is so intense and in her head there’s a plan and it’s going to get executed.  I think I appreciate it so much because I’m very similar in a lot of ways.  OK, so back to the race and we’re running across the city towards the Charles River and all systems are go, we’re feeling good.  Sun is out, people are stampeding along and there’s a little more real estate on all sides of us.  Well, around mile 4 I start to experience some discomfort in my stomach.  It’s nothing to get concerned about yet, just a little gas of the burping variety.  I continue on, it gets worse.  What the hell is going on here?  Am I so amped up that it’s causing this?  Did I drink too much water or Gatorade before the start?  Did I eat something that would cause me to…wait…that damn BANANA!!!  Folks, me and bananas just don’t get along.  I don’t appreciate their taste and for some reason they have a strange effect on my body, something I should have remembered before I ate one prior to the race.  I’m clueless; I was following Whit’s lead, which is now proving to have been a big mistake.  I continue to run, but every minute or so I try to determine if I’m going to burp or vomit.  This is terrible, I’m slowing us down and I can see Whitney’s patience waning.  At mile 7 I’m completely frustrated with myself, so I yell at Whit, perfect.  I then tell her to continue on without me, which she does.  I was a hot, sweaty, burping mess and I just wanted this thing to be over.  The day was a warm one and as I jogged the last mile I saw several people being attended to on the side of the course.  I won’t lie, this scared me.  I can sweat with the best of them and I wondered what had happened to these people, why they couldn’t recognize that they were in trouble and stopped or drank more or something.  I was well aware that I was dehydrated at this point as my “arm check” confirmed that I was no longer sweating and had that strange clammy feeling that I get when I’m dried out.  The finish line came and went about 2:12 minutes after I started and was happy to find Whitney, eating another banana!  We got me some fluids, my medal, a snack and then we found a spot to take off our shoes and talk about the race.  Whit, as usual, was looking and feeling good and she offered her thoughts on what I had experienced and things to think about as we continued on with training for Chicago.  The major determinations were that running a half marathon on a stomach filled with seafood, steak and bananas is a bad idea and also, that there isn’t enough water in the ocean to keep me hydrated and most importantly I need to toughen up a little.  As Whit put it “hey, you’re going to have some problems out there, you just need to not let them beat you”.  Right!

Whitney and I the morning of my first half!

With a couple of weeks to go before we had to officially start our training program for the marathon, we once again enjoyed some lighter workouts and time together.  Next up, we take our first strides towards the city of the big shoulders…

Part 3 and the Chicago Marathon will be up on Monday morning so be sure to check back!

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