Well ... I did it.
I'm a marathon finisher.
I crossed the finish line of the 36th Annual Wineglass Marathon in 4 hours and 38 minutes on Sunday, October 1st in Corning, NY.
I used to be half crazy two years ago when I finished my half marathon, and now I'm full on batshit crazy.
I'm going to be honest, I did not train as well as I should have. Would I change anything about my training? Absolutely not. You may not know this, but I believe a marathon takes 30% physical abilities, and 70% mental abilities. My longest run was 14 miles, I also worked my way up and completed 8, 10, and 12 mile runs - adding on 2 miles each week. For months though, I was getting my runs in, mostly outside, but some on the treadmill, including sprints and hills, and I was incorporating a ton of strength training in, as well as yoga to practice my breathing. For my strength training I did many Tone It Up workouts, a couple of LG workouts, and many difficult strength classes at CKO Kickboxing. I flew through miles 1-14 with ease, and 15-19 with a bit more toughness, 20-26 was all mental. While I wouldn't suggest not doing long runs, I did what worked for me. I could not get motivated to do the long training runs, even with friends, because quite frankly I didn't want to waste several hours getting them done. My last run was the day before, and I set an intention of pushing myself harder than I had in all of my training, but enjoying the feeling of the run, being outside, with the chilly fall air. I ran all the way to the lake, sat down and visualized myself crossing that finish line. I had joked a ton with other people saying they'd need to carry me over, not believing that I could do it, but that day, I believed with everything inside of me that I could do it, no matter what, I was crossing that finish line on my own two feet. I ran at a faster pace than in any of my training runs that day, and felt with every fiber of my being that I was going to come out changed when I crossed that finish line.
The Days Before
Since the marathon was on Sunday, my friend, Joe, suggested we carb up on Friday night. So we went to a local pizzeria and I had a ton of pizza, way more than I would ever have in one night. I devoured almost an entire one, and I'm not ashamed. I also had a garlic bite or two.
The next day was the day we'd be leaving for Corning, NY to pick up our race packets. I had two hard boiled eggs in the morning, packed up my bags, and we started our 3.5 hour drive. The views were beautiful so we didn't mind it, plus we stopped for Krispy Kreme donuts.
When we arrived at the Corning Museum of Glass, we quickly registered and got our swag bags, which included an awesome running sweater, a wine glass, a mini bottle of champagne, our bibs, and coupons! We checked out the vendors at the expo, and my friend even even purchased a stick to help roll out her muscles. Me, on the other hand, I grabbed some glide so I didn't chaf, and a sticker for my jeep. Because I only run these races for the sticker - ha, just kidding.
Afterwards, we headed to grab something to eat, since we were all starving by then. After walking down the street for what felt like forever, we finally decided on a place to eat that had delicious pasta dishes. We all felt called to eat pasta and chicken, and that's exactly what we did, aside from my friend's husband, who wasn't running the race, and who enjoyed his steak and beer. We all quickly got sleepy, and knew it was time to grab our pre-race fuel at the store, and head to bed.
The motel we stayed at was super shady though, and they both joked that we were going to the Bates Motel. I was just glad I had never seen that show. We checked in after some minor issues, and walked around to the back where our two rooms were, thankfully next to one another. We walked in and immediately got settled by blocking the door with two chairs. I can never sleep the night before a race, but I really couldn't sleep, knowing we were at a motel that looked like it could be in every SVU episode. Thankfully, we made it through the night. We got up, got dressed and prepped for the race, and got the heck out of there.
The next morning was full of pre-race jitters, even at the freezing cold start line, but once I threw on some Valor essential oil, and that horn sounded, we were off, with little time to think about our fears.
Two friends, Joe and Sarah, from the kickboxing gym I work at peer pressured me... I mean convinced me rather nicely, to run a marathon with them. When we lined up at the start line, Sarah, who had thoroughly trained for this started at the 4 hour pacer, and I ran with Joe, who stayed with me the entire time. He has another marathon coming up in three weeks, so this was all to see where he was at, kind of like a training run for him. We ran quick the first 1-14 miles, staying pretty close to the 4:20 pacer who we started with at the start line.
We fell off the pace a bit once we hit miles 15-19, and then really fell when we were walk/running miles 20-26. I did not suffer from any side stitches, or get out of breath. My calves were pretty tight the entire race, but didn't get unbearable until the last long strength of the run. The hills were minimal, which I was grateful for, aside from 1 or 2 hills. Everyone kept telling us how great the race was because of the decrease in elevation, minimal hills, and beautiful views, and they weren't wrong about any of that.
Eventually the 4:40 pacer caught up with us, but we were so incredibly motivated not to let that guy pass us, that we kept pushing, even when our legs wanted to fall out. And trust me, I thought they would give out on me at any moment. They didn't, and that 4:40 pacer never passed us. We crossed the finish line together at 4:38.
The Fuel: Before, During, After
You read what I devoured before the day of the race above. The morning of, I stuck with what I usually eat before races - oat nut bread, natural peanut butter, and a banana.
During, every 3-4 miles I ate Stinger energy chews, and Stinger waffles, and then towards the end I ate even more. My body was starving at that point. I alternated between drinking gatorade, which they so graciously provided, and water.
After I was still feeling pretty out of whack, but I did drink some more water, tried to get down a bagel - only got down half of a half of a mini one - and drank my Young Living Aminowise. We headed to lunch, and I was able to drink some more water and eat half a cheeseburger with some fries. It wasn't until we got home about 4 hours later that I was able to eat a full meal, and then some. I finished my pasta from the night before AND I polished off my cheeseburger and fries. The following days I was still super hungry, thirsty and craving salt, but I slowly started to get back into my regular eating schedule and routine.
We kept moving after the run, we tried to walk, even though our bodies would have none of it. As I sat in the car for our 3.5 hour ride back home, I kept trying to move my legs, and stretch. When I got home, I quickly ate dinner, and then hopped into a warm bath with epsom salts, and a Young Living Stress Away Bath Bomb. It was incredibly relaxing, and felt so good on my tired muscles. After I got out, I applied some Young Living Cool Azul Pain Relief Cream, and passed out within seconds on the couch, eventually making my way to bed in the early morning. Sal and I slept almost 12 hours. Needless to say my body needed it.
Monday, the next day, I took off of teaching kickboxing and training my client. I knew my body would not be in any shape to train people. My calves were tight, and my left knee hurt due to my IT band. I laid up on the couch all day, making sure to fuel my body, hydrate and to stretch out. I also walked a ton to the bathroom, and even to the end of the driveway! It was tough. Tuesday I was back into my routine, and while I still wasn't feeling 100%, I could move a little better. I still continued to stretch. My calves are still tight, but my knee is feeling better!
Training for this marathon, and going through the motions of the days leading up to this big day, I honestly did not believe in myself that I could do something so crazy, something that would require such mental will and determination. I've done some wild things in the past like swimming with whale sharks in the ocean, running a Spartan race, and even running a half marathon, but I just could not picture my body running 26.2 miles. I signed up to prove to myself I could do this though, even if I didn't do half of the training runs since I didn't have the motivation or drive. The day before, at the lake, I visualized myself crossing that finish line, and when I lined up at the start line, literally all of my fears drifted away, especially as I conquered mile after mile. There was not a doubt in my mind at mile 14 that I would be finishing the marathon. I almost started crying, but I held it together. The tears almost flowed again a few miles later, and again I held them back. It wasn't until I crossed that finish line with Joe and saw not only my friend and training partner waiting for me at the finish line, but I also saw Sal.
The race had a special app that followed you along the run on your phone - RaceJoy. It would tell you your pace, what mile you completed, and what your end time would be if you kept at that pace, which was awesome. But the thing I loved most about the app was that it was able to send messages from spectators right to your headphones. I had both Justin, Sarah's husband, and Sal sending me messages, and I swear, between that, the spectators, and other racers, I was so motivated to finish the race. I said that I didn't want to see Sal on the sidelines as we ran, but without him and his messages, I swear I could have stopped several times. His support means everything to me, and I am so grateful for him.
The spectators with their hilarious and inspiring signs, the other racers cheering you on, especially when you got closer and closer to the finish line, the support from friends and family from all the text messages and comments I received, the messages and love from Sal, my running partners never giving up on me, and the "easier" trail of decreasing elevation, minimal hills, and chilly fall air, I would recommend anyone run this marathon.
I'm being serious when I say if you can run, if you are without injury, then you should run a marathon. Work your way up to it sailing through 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons, but DO IT. It's one of the most terrifying things I've done, but it's so empowering when you cross that finish line. You feel like you can do ANYTHING. And guess what? YOU CAN. If you set your mind to it, and just go for it, you CAN. Sure it may seem scary at first, but once you start, those thoughts disappear, and all you're thinking about is the next step... all it's just one foot in front of the other. And that's with anything in life. Don't let this life pass you by as you sit there in limbo. You need to live in the moment, and make the most of each and every one you get.