People who run marathons are sadistic. The feet wear down after a dozen or two dozen miles. Full recovery takes a days. Mental capacity gets beat up. Hunger sets in. To say at the very least, this was my state on Sunday. And I’m saying I’m sadistic.
You think after my first marathon, I wouldn’t run again. Despite the critics, I threw myself back in the pool.
Critic: “Why would you pay to run?” The event is an incentive to get in shape. I dragged myself on extended runs because paid to participate.
Critic: “But why? You could run on your own?” I guess so, but I like running in large groups. Plus, I like being catered to by marathon volunteers. In this event, that includes the police.
After the run, I love getting small ego boosts when I tell someone I ran the San Francisco marathon. I get an extra boost when they told me how much of an accomplishment that is. I admit, I’m shallow.
Critic: “Are you crazy?” You should have asked me that the first time around.
The SF marathon is held annually. This year, 27,000 runners took the marathon challenge. I feel proud to have finished under the time limit. But I feel like crap that I made some rookie mistakes. Please don’t make these mistakes.
- Run faster than your training pace. I thought my pace was 11:45 min per miles. It’s not. I found out my Fitbit can’t measure distance when my strike width is smaller than normal. That difference meant my time was longer than 11:45 min per mile. Of course, if I only use my Fitbit to pace, that doesn’t matter because the references would be the same. But here’s the kicker; I was still running faster than my “training pace”. I screwed up big time and felt miserable by mile 11. Also, I was surprised I was only at mile 11 when I got to that mile marker.
- Run together, alone. Initially, I ran with my earbuds. For 13 miles, I thought I could drown the pain out with music. Not the case at all. I stopped more often with my earbuds in than without. After mile 15, I was about to find at least one chatting partner until the end of the race. I feel grateful to run into chatty folks. They helped me keep a running pace. Also, after I took off the earbuds, I heard a ringing in my ears after. Don’t listen to music too loud!
- Train on an irregular schedule. In addition to running, I was also doing gymnastics strength training. Instead of focusing on running a few miles a day, I took more time contorting myself in strange positions. I couldn’t keep a good routine going during my 2 and a half months of training. My legs paid the price.
- Run with worn out shoes. I used the same shoes from my first race. 8 months ago. Please don’t do that. My feet hurt unevenly. The right foot hurt more than the left. The traction was all gone. The padding was worn in. For a short distance, that’s fine. For a long distance, it can lead to terrible injuries.
- Don’t pack snacks. I needed an extra snack after my stomach gave way. I left an extra Clif bar in my car and completely regret it at the halfway point. The tail-gaters parked close to the finish line were terrible people. I could have slugged one of them in the face if I had the energy to do it. Take many caffeine shots. The gel packs are a great boost, but use them sparingly. It turns out they give me cramps. That’s extremely unforgiving when I need to sustain a steady pace. I had a really bad muscle cramp towards the 3rd quarter that I shook it off by running more. It came back in the end when I tried to sprint through the last 0.2 miles.
Now that it’s all said and done, I’m glad I ran again. I got to meet people from all over. I got to suffer with people from all over. I got a lot of cheers from all over.
Someone in the race told me, “Not everyone can do this, you know.” She’s right. Not everyone can run a full marathon. But, you’ll never know if you don’t try. I put myself in the arena, and I hope this is your invocation to begin.