I ran a marathon today.
Seriously. I DID IT. This was my last training run before next month’s Macleay River Marathon. I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet. I did 1:1 intervals the whole way. And I did this one all on my own, without any running partners (other than the Snook for the last 3K). BABY I’M A FIREWORK! (Run data: part 1 / part 2)
I was pretty well-prepared for this one. You should see the checklist I made the day before! Everything was ready. As I’ve done on all my long ones, I used a mix of Endura and Hammer gels and took one every 45 minutes along the way. I also used Endurolytes to mitigate cramping; 2 at the start and then 2 every hour. I put Body Glide everywhere I thought I might chafe, and I slathered Neurofen gel everywhere that felt sore. I also made sure to take a Zyrtec the night before, and I had some paracetamol and Tums before I started. (Stress gives me acid reflux.)
Okay! So that’s the OCD stuff out of the way. I got up at 5am (only a few hours’ sleep, of course) and had a coffee and some oatmeal for breakfast. I was dressed and out on the road exactly at 6am. The sun wasn’t even up yet, and it was COLD. I headed up Broadway to Glebe, passing runners headed to the SMH Half. I wished all of them good luck as I ran by. I was deliberately going really slowly, trying to keep my pace down while I warmed up. My fingers were like ice. I ran around Blackwattle Bay and then headed up Victoria Road. I became aware of needing to pee. This is unusual; I rarely need to make pitstops on my runs. But I guess I overhydrated, so I had to stop at a gas station and use the facilities. I got to Iron Cove Bridge at about 6:45, just as the sun was finally coming up over the city. My pace started to pick up.
I did two laps around the Bay Run. It was quiet at first, but gradually the number of runners started to increase. I became aware that there was actually a race on that day (“The Memory Run/Walk” to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s, I think) but it didn’t start til 9am. I felt good! My pace was picking up. My right foot was hurting – I’d taped it since my injury isn’t quite 100% yet – but I told myself that dealing with pain is part of the marathon challenge. I had to pee AGAIN, so I used the toilet near the Leichhardt Oval. I was doing well with my nutrition, but I wasn’t drinking much. (I was so cold that it took a good hour before I started sweating noticeably.)
I stopped to fill my water bottles a final time before heading towards home. Unfortunately I fumbled with the iPhone and somehow managed to stop my run. D’oh! So I had to start a new one. I headed back up Victoria Road. My pace dropped a little on the uphill sections, but I picked it up on the downhills. When I got to the fish markets, I realised I was actually a little ahead of my mental schedule so I added an extra bit by running up Bridge Road to Glebe.
I was feeling good when I got to the house. The Snook helped refill my water, Endurolytes, and gels while I used the bathroom and changed my shirt. I took a couple more paracetamol and slathered on some more Neurofen gel. I was smiling, but I could tell my legs were feeling tired. But 20-30K is when I get my second wind, and I knew I was going to enjoy heading to Centennial Park.
I had a big smile on my face when I got to Centennial. My pace was still great! I did 2.5 laps, staying mostly on the inner track (which is grass and dirt – I thought it would be easier on my legs). The day had turned absolutely beautiful by that point, and the park was full of families, sporting teams, and picnickers. My feet were still sore, but they’d passed through pain into comfortable numbness, to be honest.
Once I hit the 30K mark, things started to SUCK. My left calf suddenly started hurting. I’ve never had pain there before! (I think maybe because I was compensating for my sore right foot by pushing off more with my left?) Then both of my quads started feeling quaky and tentative. I took an extra walk break and tried to regroup. I kept looking at my WWBD? bracelet and telling myself “Keep it together.” I suddenly remembered that Galloway recommends going into a “shuffle” when your legs are tired or hurting. I tried it out. It worked! The less I lifted my feet, the less it hurt. I morphed into a new superhero: THE AMAZING SHUFFLER, whose ability is to skim the ground while barely touching it. The idea of it made me laugh.
By that point all the podcasts I’d queued up were finished, so I switched over to music. At the 23 mile mark, Katy Perry’s “Firework” came on and I NEARLY LOST IT. I’d been too preoccupied with the pain and my nutrition and just all the logistics to really deal with the emotional side of what I was doing, but the music just opened me right up. (Seriously? That is a REALLY GOOD song to listen to when you’re doing something difficult.) I actually had to tell myself to calm down, to not start celebrating the accomplishment when I still had 5K to go! The music did help me focus on the fun rather than the pain and tiredness though.
I left the park and headed towards home. I knew the Snook was heading towards me. I met him near the tennis courts on Cleveland Street, and he ran with me the last 3K to home. The nicest part of these runs has been being with him when I meet my goals! We abandoned the strict intervals then, just running/shuffling as much as I could and walking when I needed a break. (He thought my superhero idea was pretty funny, referring to me as “Captain Shuffle” at one point.) We had to add on a little extra around Prince Alfred Park to meet the distance. And then suddenly… we were done! It was actually pretty anticlimactic. Surprisingly, I didn’t have an emotional freakout like I thought I would. I guess I got that out of my system 5K earlier, huh? 🙂
Clock time was 6:36, but that included a couple toilet breaks, water refills, stop lights, etc. My actual “chip time” was 5:55:36, so I actually met my goal of breaking 6 hours! (I just hope I can do it on the day.) I never hit the glycogen wall. Yeah, my legs got real sore in the last 6 miles, but my pace remained pretty consistent and I never felt like I lacked the energy to run. (I LOVE the 1:1 intervals.) Back at home, I had a couple protein drinks and sat in an ice bath while the Snook cooked me a monster steak with fries. BEST POST-RUN TREATMENT EVER. My lower legs are still really sore, especially that left calf. But I’ve got 4 weeks of taper now to heal everything up before my big run.
YOU GUYS, I CAN TOTALLY RUN A MARATHON!