First Marathon – Hard Lessons Learned

It’s three days post-marathon, but my memories of the race feel like a dream. And I’m not talking about the type of dream  you wake up from, smiling. I’m talking nightmare, shuddering when you recollect the pain endured. Normally after races, I’m exultant, so overjoyed I end up signing up for additional races shortly after crossing the finish line. This time, not so much. I’ve been asked by coworkers and friends, now that you’ve done your first marathon, will you do a second? And I quite honestly don’t know the answer. I may run, but I don’t love running. I do get the runner’s high, but it’s not enough to make me adore it. I run because I have to. I run because it’s the last leg of a triathlon. I don’t pound pavement, mile after mile, just for fun. And I think that’s a major difference between triathletes and marathoners. Marathoners love to run; triathletes mostly run out of necessity.

Now, I sound incredibly negative, and I unfortunately am. I’m upset at myself for not allowing ample time to train. I stupidly threw caution to the wind and thought I could train successfully for a marathon in seven weeks. But, the steep increase in mileage came with foot issues and a serious lack of motivation. Motivation doesn’t get you through a race though; a tired doggedness, a “never quit” attitude gets you through the race. And that’s the essence of my first marathon experience. Just don’t quit.

I also managed to make most of the first-time marathoner mistakes:

  • I didn’t carry water with me. I stupidly assumed the course would have enough water/fuel for the racers (nope).
  • I didn’t stick to my fueling plan (because of the lack of water).
  • I wore my trusty, but incredibly old, minimalist shoes.
  • I didn’t train enough. Not far enough, not fast enough.
  • I went into the race with some foot/tendon issues (I think it’s peroneal tendonitis, but will confirm with an ortho if it doesn’t alleviate soon.)
  • Went out too fast. My pace was all over the place.
  • I hit the wall and instead of relaxing and dealing with it, I may have had a few self-pity whimpers.

All this negativity set aside though, I did finish my first marathon. It was by no means pretty, I was in a horrible mental state, and physically I still haven’t recovered. But, I finished. Did I hit my time goals? Absolutely not.

Goal A: 4:15 finish

Goal B: 4:30 finish

Goal C: Finish

The only reason I’ll ever run another stand-alone marathon would be to beat my time, with a positive mental attitude. To cross the finish line smiling instead of grimacing. To prove to myself that I’m capable of running a marathon and not succumbing to the wall around mile 20. To finish in a better mental state than I did.

Be on the lookout for my Marine Corps Marathon Race Report coming in the next few days. I’ll get into the nitty gritty of my experience with the race logistics, course, and how I mentally forced myself through the last miles.

5 thoughts on “First Marathon – Hard Lessons Learned

  1. ifijustbreathe says:

    I’m sorry to hear that the marathon didn’t go as well as you’d hope. Congrats on finishing though even with an injury. That’s impressive. 🙂 I’m only a few days away from my marathon and I’m mentally preparing myself by telling me to just enjoy the experience and go with whatever it throws at me. And I’m anticipating that it will throw a lot of stuff at me. Haha I hope your marathon didn’t scar you forever and you recover soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • caseytris says:

      Oh yea, good luck during the rest of your taper week! I’m sure your marathon will go great, can’t wait to hear about it afterwards. Yep, the marathon threw a lot of stuff at me that I wasn’t ready for, so as long as you’re mentally prepared to be surprised out there, you’ll have a great time!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tri.runner.ella says:

    Absolute hats off to you for being so honest and open about how you feel. Hope you feel better and a bit more positive now because at the end of the day you DID finish and you did something not everyone has the physical or mental ability to do. A marathon can throw anything at you – that’s the lesson I learned!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. unironedman says:

    The snag with the marathon and the runner’s high is that the race is just too damn long for the high to last. Unless you do it in two hours, of course… ha ha! But the marathon and the ironman have a few things in common, bar the obvious. Both events give you kudos as a finisher. There aren’t many other events where you get recognition just for crossing the line. So take that as a plus. Missed what time you did it in, but it’s not important. Certainly not in comparison to getting to the start line, and getting to the finish. There’ll be time to put in a ‘performance’ another day. Just think how much fun it will be jumping off your bike after 180k 🙂


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