A Lonely Marathon


A Lonely Marathon Route

13 Miles from Hallowell, ME to Richmond, ME and back.

Onward to the next phase of my training – running marathon distances without any kind of race support. Most of the marathons I will be running in 2016 will not be at the time of the official race. I cannot count on volunteers, I cannot count on water stations, I cannot count on an ambulance driving at 3 miles an hour behind me (Thank you Bay of Fundy Marathon.) I will not have the rush of adrenaline starting a race with 10,000 runners brings. I will not have sponsor tents with coconut water or granola or massages at the end of my race. I will just have the satisfaction of having completed a goal I set for myself.

Yesterday, I woke up and ran a marathon distance from my house down to Richmond, Maine and back. This was not a spontaneous event, but part of my over all training plan.  It has been two months since my last marathon and next I will narrow the rest gap down to one month (then 3 weeks, 2 weeks, and the one marathon a week.)  Not only did I do this on my own, but I also beat my best marathon time by over 10 minutes. As proud as I am to have completed a marathon all on my own, there are four main areas in which I need to improve.
1. Hydration
I have both a fuel belt and a Camelbak backpack. Unfortunately, due to my current size, neither one fits. The night before my race, I drove down and placed water bottles at regular intervals along my route. Not only will I not have the luxury of knowing where to hide water bottles on most of the courses I will run, but even in our small town I have people take my water bottles. I can console myself with thinking that these people need the water more than I. This doesn’t help me when I need a water bottle at Mile 21. Fortunately I had a good Samaritan pull up beside me and offer me a water bottle just as I was starting to panic. This is not the kind of poor planning that would be acceptable on a regular basis. Finding hydration equipment that fits me needs to be a priority this month.

2. Sweat Management
It was a cool morning and I was not running to beat the clock, however, 1 hour into my run I was drenched. I have always sweat a great amount. Any sort of exertion always created a sheen of effort across my brow, however the sheer quantity of sweat seems to have doubled in the past year. Even an easy 5k creates gallons of sweat saturating my clothes. My running clothes are billed as “wicking”, but I don’t see where the moisture is being released. I will start running at least one run during the mid day heat attempting to find solutions for this. Everything from salt tablets to new running clothes will be considered.

3. Pre-race Preparations
I need to find some pre-race food that will not make me nauseous. I have recently had some success with oatmeal, but I need something that is quick and easy to grab when I first wake up. Also since I won’t be running these routes on race days, I doubt there will be many porta potties at the beginning of my run. For this run I had the luxury of walking out my front door and taking off. Not every run will be so convenient. I need to make sure that I have an easy regiment in the morning that will prepare me for the race with a minimum inconvenience to any hosts with whom I am staying.

4. Post Race Recuperation
At the end of my run, there is nobody helping me across the finish line, there is no medical tent, no chilled bottle of water or fresh cut banana. I need to make sure that I have easy access to these things for myself. A cooler with ice and beverages, banana and peanut butter, ibuprofen and neosporin need to be readily at hand.

Failure and The Day After

 “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” – Vince Lombardi

Looking at the date of my my last post hurts.  Physically causes sharp pains in my knees and my gut.  What started as mild discomfort and loss, translated to headaches and blurry eyes, anxiety driven panic attacks with hyperventilating and rapid heartbeats.  It’s like I had decided to test my mettle by putting my palm on a searing hot plate and then decided to do it again and again.  Each time I looked at the page it got worse, til I decided I shouldn’t even look at the page.  6 months ago my last post was ironically about excuses. So time goes very quickly by…

It started when I was having knee pains back in March.  Here I had set this magnificent goal of running the world only to be brought down low again by my body’s inability to quickly adapt.  There was a time when I was ultimately malleable,  I could easily bend mentally and physically whichever way the wind blew.  Instead, now it takes time for me to adjust and I beat the snot out of myself while I am maneuvering.  It took me a month to physically recover, but obviously a little longer for the mental game to catch up.

I finally let myself off of the ropes and started focusing on what was important.  Running.  Slow, strong, running.  Keeping to the pace I have set. Keeping to the distance goal I had in mind.  Putting my ego aside because my ego wasn’t getting me out the door, running was.  I stopped trying to lose weight because that was a fight I was losing.  Stopped pushing myself to cross train with weights or swimming because not getting those things done was sneaking in cheap shots to my bruised self image.  I needed to see myself as a winner, so I could get back into the habit of winning.  Essentially, I stopped trying to juggle all the skills for this self designed triathlon (Business Building, Body Building, and Running) and focused on the thing that made me feel like a winner – Running.

I have had some wins over the past couple of months. I have been consistently running with a few minor breaks, since the beginning of the year.  I started pacing with a great company, Beast Pacing, which has kept me motivated by getting to enter some unique races, meet some inspirational pacers, and run with some awesome runners who know how to take their time in a race and enjoy the view.  I have run two marathons this year so far. One marathon was a goal race, a challenging, hilly race with gorgeous views when the downpour and fog would allow.  The second marathon  I was a last minute pacer, helping one of my best friends overcome her mental trepidation with a recent injury.  I started by saying I would run 20 miles and instead ran the whole race.

I am someone who likes to accentuate the positive and focus on moving forward, but I realize that I have not been trusting enough of you, dear reader.  Of course I have bad days and bad weeks, but it is resistance that makes us stronger and I now understand that I have been cheating you by skimping on the struggles and doubling up on the dollops of sacchariney sweet fluff.  I will attempt to share the down days and the lessons I take away from them a little more. Failure is only an option until it isn’t, until the next day when you decide to get back on the horse and try again.  This my next day post. What we had here was a failure to communicate, but this post is my verbal olive branch.  Thank you for joining me.