On May 5th in Long Branch, New Jersey (with a gorgeous ocean view) I officially became a MARATHONER!!
Was there ever any doubt?!?! Alight, maybe a little…but in the end I was able to catch-up on my long runs, complete my training and achieve my goal of finishing the New Jersey Marathon!!
My #1 goal was to finish, #2 was revised after my foot injury to finish around the 5-hour mark. I finished at 5:20. I lost about 7-8 minutes on two port-a-john breaks (was very thirsty and drank a ton of water, TMI? super quick the first stop, but a line for the second), so I’d say that’s pretty close to the time I was expecting. Definitely not the fastest marathoner out there, but a finisher nonetheless!!
I woke-up early on the morning of the marathon…ate a big carb-y breakfast in my hotel room and then did 20 minutes of yoga before packing up and heading out. The traffic getting there was insane. It was only about a 10-minute drive from the hotel, but it took over an hour. I sat in my car watching the half-marathoners sprint down the highway trying to make it to the start line in time (their race started about an hour before the full). Fortunately, I left with plenty of time to spare. I parked, got my gear together, waited in the warm car for a bit, then headed over. It was absolutely FREEZING and WINDY. I was extremely thankful that I brought a ‘toss away’ hooded jacket. I absolutely would have been miserable without it.
In what seemed like no time we were off!! I would say that within an hour of starting the clouds cleared, the sun started shining and the wind died down. It turned out to be supreme running weather. It was total perfection.
Being a former Jersey Girl, maybe I’m biased, but Jersey spectators have to be some of the very best! They were literally tailgating in their front yards. Eating, drinking, holding up signs, playing lawn games and many of the homes had Springsteen blasting from their radios. They were loud, enthusiastic and very encouraging.
I saw a few signs that said “Welcome New Jersey Marathoners”…and it was really nice to see. These people were stuck at home pretty much all day long…they had crazy runners filling their streets, energy gel packets and sweatshirts being tossed everywhere, but yet they still cheered us on and made us feel welcome.
To be honest, it was a very uneventful race. Absolutely nothing went wrong. I felt great, I had everything I needed, the weather was perfect. It was like the planets aligned and I was handed this excellent first marathon experience!
However, I did start out a little too fast (as always). In fact, for a while it was looking like I was going to hit a 13.1 PR!! In the end I hit it right in around my usual time, but then things slowed down considerably around the 18-20 mile mark. From there I did a walk/run mix. Sometimes I’d end up next to someone taking a break too and we’d chat for a bit.
It’s so strange to say it, but marathon running (for me) is far more relaxing and enjoyable than the shorter distances?! I was able to take in so much more of the experience since I wasn’t being driven by a time goal. Of course, it was hard at times, but surprisingly enjoyable as well.
With about .3 miles to go I spotted the finish line.
That was something.
For one split second I got a little choked-up. Most training plans are about 4-5 months long, but in actuality it took a year of my life to build up to that exact moment. All the doubt, all the worry, the early morning runs, the lost sleep, the sacrificed wine!! Well, it all kind of hit me at once. It felt like such a HUGE accomplishment just making it to the START line, so being that close to the finish was without a doubt one of the top five moments of my life.
As soon as I snapped out of it, I sprinted the rest of the way. As I passed another runner she yelled to me “you’re making it look so easy?!”. It was my last burst of energy, the sudden euphoria that made me feel like I had plenty of gas left in the tank!!
For about an hour afterwards I was sore. I felt fine during the 2-hour car ride home, but when I finally stood up I was stiff as a board! A hot shower, a big dinner and a few hours later I felt completely fine. By the next morning I was 100%. No soreness at all. Which is a good thing considering how much I had to get done that day!!
The only reason I can come up with for not being sore the day after a marathon is because I ran it, but didn’t RACE it. I pushed, but not outside of my capability. It gave me a slower finish time, but there is GREAT satisfaction in running a marathon and not feeling even the slightest bit of fatigue the next day!
By 48 hours afterwards I felt like running but gave myself an extra day or so of rest just in case. I eased back in with a three-miler on Thursday and yesterday I did a nice, slow 7.5 mile run.
I have about a month before I start training for the Marine Corps Marathon, so I plan to keep up my long runs, but not push too hard. I’m sure my legs will appreciate the break!!
And there you have it…my first marathon complete. I enjoyed it immensely and highly recommend you lace-up and run one yourself ; )