On October 18th 2014, I did what only 1% of the population can say they’ve done. I ran a frickin marathon. 26.2 miles, 42.16 kilometers, 138336 feet… a LONG ass distance. It was by far the most rewarding and most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It also taught me A LOT… so, lets dive right in…
1. The right shoes are CRUCIAL. It’s two weeks after, and I’m still suffering from the dreaded black toe (times 4) because I didn’t wear the right shoes… Go to your local running store, mine is Charm City Run, trust them… they’re called experts for a reason, and don’t be afraid to fork out a little bit of extra dough. (if money is tight, which I get, trust me… find the shoes you want and get last years off the internet.) But don’t, I repeat, DO NOT run in shoes that aren’t the correct size, or the correct fit for your foot… ESPECIALLY FOR 26.2 MILES!!! (smacks forehead – *sigh*)
2. Hydrate or die! Well… not die (maybe), but be VERY unhappy. There were 10+ water stops on the Baltimore Marathon course. I stopped at EVERY SINGLE ONE… even if I didn’t need it. I filled up my water belt…. ya know why? I’m not going to be that ass hole who passes out of dehydration and causes a massive pile up on the course, no sir I’m not! I also work in medicine, I know how the body works. Dehydration is NO JOKE people. Yes, I had to stop to pee… whatever! Better then the alternative!!
3. Goals are great, but don’t kill yourself if you don’t meet them. I had three goals going in to this thing. I was VERY under prepared. I have soft tissue damage in my left knee and shin splints like a mother… So, my training has been lacking. I get that. I owned it to anyone who asked. My longest run was a 20-23 mile (my phone died, so I don’t know the exact milage) training run a month before the marathon, on the HOTTEST day of the year. I know I could complete the course, however, I had NO CLUE how long it would take me due to injury. So… I set three goals. 1) under 6 hours 2) Pain free 3) JUST CROSS THE LINE. I met ONE… only one of my goals. I crossed that line. I crossed the Baltimore Marathon finish line at 6:07:41. And I knew at mile 22 my toes were shot… So, the pain thing was out the window way before I finished. However, thanks to my trusty KT Tape, my knees and shins held up BEAUTIFULLY!!
4. WORK THE CROWD!! Especially if you’re not a speed demon… much like me. When you’re near the end, you KNOW the spectators are getting bored or dancing, singing, whatever they’re doing… so dance with them!! It made me smile, and sure a shit made the older gentleman I danced with laugh! 🙂
5. Keep smiling, even when you want to cry. I (stupidly) signed up to get text alerts for my OWN time so see how I was doing… sounds like a good idea right?? Yea, no. The first few alerts cam through and I felt like I was flying!! (est finish time 5:30:41 – oh fuck yea!!!) next one… (est finish time 5:42:27… ok, ok.. I can still do this…) last one… (est finish time 6:02:59… fuck, I’ve blown it). I had a little over 2 miles to go and I was broken… I wasn’t going to make the 6:00:00 mark… I was in AGONY… and I was almost alone… (almost). The tears started streaming down my face and I looked at my hand… I had written two names (for this reason exactly) “Alex” and “Emily”. Alex (as you probably already know) is my beyond perfect son. Just seeing his name made my entire face light up. Emily, is an amazing young lady who I (the week) before was given the privilege of running for!! These two names were what I needed to smile. So even though you don’t know it Als and Emily, you guys made me smile, when all I wanted to do was cry! ❤
6. Having friends on the course is REMARKABLE!!! One of my best friends “followed” me (its way less creepy then it sounds) and met up with my at 3 stops on the course. To see a familiar face in a vast see of unknowns was WONDERFUL! Also, my November Project Tribe was in charge of one of the water stations (mile 16). Seeing them was like a breath of fresh air!!! LOVE YOU GUYS!!! “Can i get a fuck yea?!” 🙂
7. Bribe yourself. When I didn’t think I could take it anymore.. which was around mile 22… “Stace, 4 more miles until food… 4 more miles until family, 4 MORE MILES UNTIL YOU CAN GET THESE STUPID *profanity* SHOES OFF!!!!!!” Sounds silly, but it worked… at least for a little while. lol.
8. Remember, you’re not the only runner on the course. There was a woman at mile 19 who was struggling… I stopped and walked beside her. I asked her if I could help her. She was having the beginning of an asthma attack and NO ONE ELSE HAD STOPPED… I immediately (after her direction) grabbed her inhaler out of her Camelbak and waited for her to use it… We walked for 5 minutes until her breathing was under control. Both of us saw the BITCH of a hill that was in front of us and I wasn’t about to leave her until she assured me (twice) that she was ok. She was more than thankful before I left, and thanked me again when she caught up to me around mile 23. I… can’t believe no one else stopped to help her. I’m going to blame it on ignorance… them not knowing what she was going through, because I can’t let myself believe that other runners, people like her, like me… would WATCH someone suffer like that and run on.
9. People will doubt you, prove them wrong. There are haters everywhere, some will let you know, some will just put small doubts in your mind and make you second guess yourself… DON’T. My mother… told me I couldn’t do it. Told me I’d end up in the hospital. That I wasn’t ready… that my body would fail. It didn’t, I did it. All 26.2 miles… I’m here, writing this post, (not from a hospital bed mind you), stronger physically and mentally then I EVER have been. Make the doubt work for you, not against you… when I felt myself getting weak, I said “you can do this… you have to do this. Don’t let those people be right… you’re a marathoner.” And ya know what… I AM!!!
10. You’re going to cry when you cross the finish line, it’s ok!! Luckily for me, BRF had it so that family and friends were SO FAR away no one saw my crying like an ass hole when I crossed. lol. I think some of the race pictures depict it, but not terribly. The sense of accomplishment is something no one can ever take away from you… EVER. No, I didn’t meet my goal, but DAMMIT I FINISHED!!! I DID IT!!!
Will I run another Marathon?? Oh hell yes… 😉 Have you ever run one? Tell me about it.