I ran my first (and possibly only) marathon of 2014 last Sunday! I signed up for the race back in February, and after waffling about whether or not to run the race, I decided to commit and run the race.
I don’t know if the weather could have been more perfect for the race. The temperatures varied between 55 and 60°F, for the most part. It was a bit windy, but I was hoping that the wind would keep the bees away. (Small victory: I hardly saw any bees! Except a dude dressed in a bee costume around Mile 3.)
My plan for the marathon was to run at long run pace, which for me lately had been around 11:00-11:30, sometimes a little quicker than that. I thought running at an easy pace would allow me to get in more miles before my legs started to feel tired.
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The course was absolutely gorgeous! We ran through several beautiful neighborhoods with lovely houses and then moved over to the Fox River Trail.
I made a friend to chat with for a few miles around mile 9, a combat vet who was working up to his first marathon in January. It was nice to be able to distract myself for a few miles by chatting with someone, and I was able to make sure that I was running at a conversation pace. We said our goodbyes at the split between the 20 mile and marathon races.
My legs started to hurt around mile 15, which I thought was a little early. I started to take some walk breaks. My right calf kept feeling like it wanted to cramp up on me, so I’d take a walk break when I felt like it might start cramping, or when my legs were really hurting.
My legs really started hurting around the 18 mile mark, so I decided to walk for a while. I was walking at a brisk pace and often I was able to keep up with people running at a very slow pace or runners doing run/walk intervals. My ultimate goal was just to finish the race, and if walking was going to get me across the finish line without a huge calf cramp, I was going to do it.
I started texting Scott to let him know where I was so that he wasn’t waiting at the finish line wondering where I was and worrying about whether I was okay. I was very surprised and excited when he found me around Mile 24. (And about a mile after that my Garmin died–low battery. Womp womp.)
He walked the final few miles with me, which really helped me a lot, mentally. Soon I was at the finish line, finishing my third marathon!
My splits, up to the point where my Garmin died:
Side note: I really need to invest in a 220.
And here’s the elevation I recorded:
What Went Wrong
- I guess I got a little cocky about my training. When I ran the Illinois Marathon in 2013, I had less training under my belt than I did for this race, but I still finished in 4:50. I thought for sure after running 20 miles 2 weeks ago I could at least get through 20 miles at long run pace, which wasn’t the case.
- I didn’t eat well the day before. I didn’t eat breakfast on Saturday morning and we didn’t have time to stop for lunch if we wanted to make it to my friend’s wedding on time. I had some candy in the car, which although it’s got lots of carbs, isn’t the best source of energy. Dinner was great, but one good meal can’t make up for a day’s worth of crummy eating.
- I didn’t do a great job of fueling on race day. We didn’t have any easy snacks like bananas that I felt comfortable eating before the race, so all I had to eat before the race was some Gatorade or a gel. I probably should have had more calories during the race, too. They had orange wedges at one station and that helped me feel a lot better, which makes me think fueling might have been a problem.
- I know there are a lot of reasons that cramping can occur, but I can’t help but wonder if my angry right calf muscle had something to do with electrolyte balance, since it wasn’t very hot and I wasn’t running at an incredibly fast pace.
Would I run this marathon again?
Absolutely! The course was beautiful and the race was well-organized. I’d sign up again in a heartbeat.
I was thinking of running the Prairie State Marathon in three weeks, but was waiting to sign up until after Fox Valley, which I’m glad I did. I don’t think my legs will have a marathon in them in three weeks. I may still sign up for the half–I’d like to run one or two more half marathons this fall.
I think for the near future, I want to focus on the half marathon distance and getting a little faster so I can build up some speed before I train for another full marathon. I get so inspired by all of my blogging friends who are marathon runners, but it takes a lot out of me to train for and run a marathon. I can still be an awesome running blogger and run half marathons!
When is your next race?
Marathoners: how many miles a week do you average during training?
Ever have a bad race? What did you learn from it?