What I learned After Running My First Marathon

What I Learned After Running My First Marathon

A little over a week has gone by since the New York City Marathon, and as upset as I am it is over, I look forwphiladelphiamarathonard to what’s next…Philadelphia!

This Sunday, I’ll be getting ready once again to run another marathon and since my recovery has been going quite well since NYC, I believe I’m up for it. I’ve only been to Philly a couple times, (for WWE events) but I have never actually explored the city. This race will give me an opportunity to do so. I have to start finalizing my itinerary and  start packing soon! There is just something about destination races that are just so exciting.

I just wanted to discuss something really quick…After I ran New York, one of the first things people asked me (other than my favorite part of the race) was, “What was your time?” I have to be honest, I was a bit taken back by it, because what the heck does it matter what my time was? If you guys don’t already know, this was my first marathon, and many first time marathoners set a goal of simply finishing the race, rather that shooting for a time. It kinda makes you feel like people were expecting you to finish under a certain time, and in a way it’s a bit insulting. Sure, I was maybe hoping to get under a certain time, but that’s my prerogative and none of your business. A marathon is 26.2 miles, not a walk in the park. Finishing one is a task in itself, let alone aiming to finish it in a certain amount of time.

I have to say, I got a real feel for what marathons are like from NYC. From the corrals, to wave starts, post race heats blankets, the whole nine. It’s good experience for future marathons, and what better way to be a first time marathoner than in New York! Here are some of the many things I learned from running my first marathon;

1)Training is absolutely necessary-Training not only prepares you physically for the distance, but mentally as well. Olympic runner Meb Keflezighi says, “When it comes to a race day, then it becomes 90 percent mental” If you have done well throughout your training, you need to have faith in that and be more prepa

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 01: Meb Keflezighi of the USA celebrates after winning the 40th mens ING New York City Marathon on November 1, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 01: Meb Keflezighi of the USA celebrates after winning the 40th mens ING New York City Marathon on November 1, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

red for the mental portions of the race, especially mile 20 through to the end. There really comes a point near the end where you have to dig out your inner strength to make it through those last through miles, despite the pain. This is what family and friends of non-runners need to understand;When we say no to an invite out on a Friday or Saturday night (during race training) it’s because we have a long run the next day. It could mean the difference between finishing and not finishing a race. When you sign up for a marathon, you commit yourself to it, and I have no problem saying no to anyone that asks me to hang out through my training. I feel that there needs to be more understanding on the other side, and I thank those that have supported me throughout my marathon training. It is NOT easy, and if you don’t balance training with rest equally, you will burn out.

2) Camaraderie-There is something really special about the running community, and that is we all friends whether we know each other or not. We all spend our months doing the same thing, training day after day, and when it comes to race day we all motivate each other and have a good time. It would be nice to see this in our country right now, but some people are too busy still arguing about the election.

3)Stretch throughout the race-Every time I stopped to use the porta potties, I stretched out my legs. It really helps, especially miles down the road.

4)Hydrate-VERY important. After mile 3 in NYC, there were Gatorade and water stations at every mile (as well as porta potties) I had water on my fuel belt as well, but never touched it once. I took in electrolytes and water throughout the entire marathon to stay alert.

5)Thank the Volunteers-The volunteers are on their feet as long as we were, and without them we could not run marathons . Every single volunteer I grabbed a water or a gel from, I thanked with a smile. And they are also very encouraging as well. Be grateful for these amazing people.

6)Skip the earbuds-No need for music when you have thousands of city spectators saying your name and cheering you on. This is thew first race I didn’t listen to music. I kept my earphones in the whole time just to hold my phone, but more than half of the race I had my phone off to conserve battery.

img_5106

At this point, I was in pain

7)It hurts, a lot– When I got to mile 22 of the marathon, my legs and feet just hurt. At that point I just took it mile by mile to the finish line. Don’t worry if you can no longer feel your legs at this point; It is completely normal and once you get to the finish your adrenaline will start pumping again and all is well.

8) Enjoy the moment-Don’t get to mile 6 and say to yourself “Only 20 miles to go!” Embrace the experience, have fun with the spectators, and enjoy the race. It is a journey from start to finish. Like Christmas, these things happen but once a year.

9) It hurts after too-This is a no brainer; After the race, my legs were hurting but not as bad as thimg_5151ey did the next day. And the day after that…Stairs are no joke my friends.

10)No one can take this away from you-You worked hard for this, this is your day, your moment. Have fun.

I look forward to applying what I learned from the NYC Marathon, to the Philadelphia Marathon as well as future races. Philly’s course is a lot flatter, so I think it will be more forgiving on my legs. Nevertheless, I have to be prepared. 4 days to go!

-Caitlin

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