This past weekend I ran my first (and probably last) marathon. The whole process of training, running, and then finishing the marathon was so surreal. It was a roller coaster of emotions, and although training was tough and my body definitely took a beating, it was overall, an amazing experience.
Three of my friends from college and I registered for the LA Marathon back in October. Running a marathon had always been on my bucket list, so when my friends suggested we run the LA Marathon, I was easily convinced. I dived into full marathon training mode at the beginning of October. If you follow this blog, you would have noticed that I basically dropped off the face of the earth in October; well, now you know why!
Having no clue how to train for a marathon, I signed up for a training program through the Nike+ Running App. This app was such a lifesaver and is probably the No. 1 reason I was able to finish the marathon. The app provides a 16-week training program and it dictates how far to run and what to focus on for each run. It also tracks your pace and predicates how long each run will take. Since I was training with three of my friends, we all downloaded the app and it actually kept all of us motivated throughout our entire training period since we could track each others progress. Although I didn’t follow the program to a tee, it did prepare me physically and mentally for when the actual marathon day came around.
I’m not going to lie, training was rough. It was both physically and mentally taxing. I don’t like running, never have. Before October, I had never run more than 4 miles. Since my friends and I all live in different cities, we all trained alone and I think I can speak for all of us when I say, running for more than 40 minutes by yourself is miserable. I dreaded my long distance runs because I would be running for at least 90 minutes and by the end of my program, I was running for more than 3 hours. Not only did I despise running at that point, but running aimlessly for more than 40 minutes was so boring! Since I live in San Francisco and I was training in the winter, I did a lot of my training on a treadmill, which was infinitely more boring than running outside. It was also cold and rainy this winter, so running outside was especially difficult.
Training for the marathon didn’t come without some injuries. I sprained/twisted my ankle on a hike and since I was in the midst of training, I didn’t have time to let my ankle fully heal, so it would cause me some pain on my longer runs. Next came my knees. I started to develop tendinitis and on occassion, I would experience sharp pains in my knees. By the end of my training, I was using KT Tape, which seemed to help with supporting those areas and I could run longer before my ankle and knee started bothering me. It was by no means a miracle tape, but it definitely helped. (Also, not going to lie, I felt really cool rocking my KT Tape. Please don’t judge me.)
After all my training/complaining about training, I flew down to LA and ran the marathon on Valentine’s Day (super romantic, right?). If you follow me on Snapchat, you would have seen glimpses of my progress as I attempted to Snapchat bits and pieces of the process. But, if you missed out, just keep reading about my 26.2 mile emotional roller coaster.
- Mile -14: My friends and I all woke up around 4:30 AM to get ready. We left the house at 5:15 AM and hit some lovely LA traffic on the way to Dodger’s Stadium. I was so anxious the night before that I probably only slept a total of 3 hours. I was super nervous up until I actually started running.
- Mile 0: Feeling extremely pumped. There were about 25,000 people running the marathon and the energy was amazing. The mayor of LA gave a speech and then the race started with “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen playing over the speakers – couldn’t have thought of a better pump up song. I don’t think I have ever felt so awake and alert at 6:55 AM.
- Miles 1-10: I was feeling pretty good. Nothing was hurting and the crowds at each part of the city were amazing. There was so many people cheering us on that the first 10 miles went by pretty quickly because I was just feeding off of the crowd’s overall vibe. People were handing out oranges, bananas, Red Vines, and bottles of water throughout the entire course. I chose not to eat anything for the fear of getting cramps.
- Miles 11-13: Things started to hurt. My ankle and feet started to bother me, but I powered through it. I was halfway done at this point, so there was no turning back. Getting to run through all the major neighborhoods and getting to see LA up close and personal was a great distraction from the pain. Major roads were blocked off, so it was awesome being able to run on, what would have been extremely busy roads, with no cars on them.
- Miles 14-19: Things started to hurt even more. My knee pain started to kick in and I started slowing down a bit. At Mile 19, I got a boost of confidence and strength to continue running from my friend’s parents cheering us on. Volunteers were also handing out energy gels between miles 13 and 19 and that gave me a shot of energy that really helped me power through these five miles.
- Miles 20-23: TERRIBLE. Literally, the worst. Everything hurt. I was so close, yet so far. The only thing going through my head was that I couldn’t quit with only 6 miles to go. The combination of my parents waiting for me at the finish line and my friends following me on Snapchat really put the pressure on me to finish.
- Miles 24-25: It dawns on me that I’m actually going to finish. I start getting very emotional and start crying. I think it was partially from the pain of running for 4+ hours, but also the thought of seeing my parents and friends at the finish line that really got to me. Thankfully my other friend also admitted to getting really emotional at this point, so at least I wasn’t the only one getting the feels.
- Mile 26.2: I see the jumbotron and I start sprinting towards the finish line. I finish the marathon in 4 hours and 58 minutes. Even though my whole body hurt, I had a huge smile on my face because finishing the marathon was the result of months dedicated to training and to be honest, I was really proud of myself.
That pretty much sums up my marathon experience. Although training was tough and my body is still very sore, I have no regrets running the marathon. It was a life-changing experience and getting to run it with three of my best friends, I really couldn’t have asked for more. If you made it this far, thanks for reading!