Monday, December 7, 2015

Ten Things I Learned While Running A Marathon: Part II

I meant to post this right after Part I, but I forgot, mostly because I got really busy right after Part I and was traveling and doing an insane amount of chalkboards. So I apologize, but here's the rest of them:

6. Energy to Burn
So at the start of my training for my marathon, I decided to do a Whole30. Not because I was doing marathon training, it was completely unrelated and coincidental. Well, being a ShotBlok girl FOR LIFE, you can imagine the conundrum when I realized that, whoops! Those are definitely not Whole30 compatible!

I found some tasty no-bake energy bites that did the trick, and switched from using Margarita flavored shot bloks to using sodium pills that I found at my local running store. I have continued to use the sodium pills, simply because I like them better than choking down the oddly flavored margarita shot bloks, though you have to be paying a lot more attention to your body when you're using the pills instead of a pre-planned shot blok intake! I usually pop the first one at 45 minutes and then I have another once every hour of running. That seems to work. The tricky part is when you're last hour won't be a full hour: I learned the hard way to take one anyway. The dizzy spells, fatigue, and confusion (yes, confusion!) the rest of that day were not worth the "guessing." You do have to be careful, but if you take too much you'll just pee it out or sweat it out. Plus, I have a dear dear friend who fell into a coma from lack of sodium...please be careful out there!

For my actual race, I had re-introduced shot bloks into my system - and they are still my preferred snack during a run - but it was nice to mix it up with the no-bake energy bites and the shot bloks. The bites gave me some different nutrients than the shot bloks and visa versa, so it seemed to work best with my system.

Remember, race day is not the day to experiment with this! Make sure you have your fuel intake worked out before race day!

7. The Right Fit
So one thing that 13.1 miles never taught me that 26.2 miles did for sure was that $17 socks are actually an important investment. For years I've been running in my Asics Cushion Socks in the Highlighter pack because when you're running, the brighter the better, and these socks are sooooo comfy they're like wearing slippers.

With 26.2 miles I discovered that those socks were not going to work as I had several training runs where my sweat-soaked sock got pulled down by my sweat-soaked shoe! Not a good combo! I ended up swapping to Feetures! Light Cushion running socks after trying out a pair that I had picked up in my goodie bag at a Ladies' Night event at my local running store. I prefer the merino blends - because I've started wearing them year round! - and they feel a little more cushion-y, but the regulars are good too.

8. It's All in Your Head
Running 26.2 miles is a lot harder mentally than running 13.1. I remember when I first started running true distance (greater than 6 miles in my world), I had a serious paradigm shift after I made it through my first 10 mile run. 13.1 seemed very attainable. Up until I exceeded 18 miles for my marathon training, it was still a very reasonable number in my mind.

After mile 18 I ran into a problem.

Just like those running memes that you see all over the place which are along the lines of a runner's inner conversation, this is how my distance conversation goes for myself:

"Shoot, I've only gone one mile. Twelve to go."

"Well, I'm really doing an out-an-back so it's really only 6 miles to the turnaround and since I've gone one already it's only 5 miles. I can totally do 5 miles."

"Actually, since I've gone 1 mile, it's only 2 miles until I get to eat more shot bloks and I love snacks. Wow, 2 miles is totally easy. I can do 2 miles."

And all of a sudden, my crazy runner brain has pared 12 miles down to 2 miles. Which anyone can do 2 miles, right?

Well with 18+ miles you start thinking, wow, I've gone 15 miles and I still have five more to go. I've been running for over two hours and I still have almost another hour of running left. Suddenly, a marathon doesn't seem so attainable.

My friend who's an ultra-marathoner always tells me to break it down by snack breaks, and take it three miles at a time, but having only done one of these suckers, I wasn't able to wrap my little runner brain around that. A marathon was much more mentally challenging for me than a half marathon ever was.

9. You're Crazy
The disbelief of people around you when you tell them that you're running a marathon is astonishing. At least with many of the folks I encounter. Half marathons seem to be all the rage these days, and while you still get the occasional "I could never do that," I definitely don't get it as often as you'd think. A marathon distance pushed responses to my statements from "Wow, she's done a lot of half marathons" to "Oh my god, are you insane?"

It's a long long way.

10. Finisher
By now, it's been a solid three months since my marathon and I've blocked out a lot of the agony. To the point where running another one sounds like a potentially good idea. But there was a strong sense of success and contentment once I finished my race that I never get with my half marathons. I mean, I always feel successful with my half marathons, but the contentment of running 26.2 miles was a whole new experience beyond your standard "runners' high."

It's a life experience that I'll always treasure and never regret. And I'll never say never to another one.

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