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.)
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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.
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?