That Time I Ran a Marathon

A fellow blogger, the dear Meridith from Scoot A Doot was recently contemplating signing up for her first full marathon.    I encouraged her in the comments of her blog and she wanted to see a race recap of my first full.  As I ran that race, pre blog, I didn’t have one, but promised to write about the experience….so here it is.

So about 4 years ago…in May 2010…I ran my first (and currently, only) full marathon.

I ran the Fargo Marathon in Fargo, North Dakota.  It was where I ran my first half marathon in 2007 and I couldn’t think of a better place to run my first full, than the same place where I had so much fun running my first half.  As an aside, if you ever want to do a fun, small-ish race, do Fargo.  It’s affordable, flat, gives you great shwag and has wonderful crowd support.  Oh and did I mention that it is flat. 🙂

Does the brace match my pancakes?

Post pothole with my sexy ankle brace at a trail run I probably shouldn’t have run.  Also note my sexy 2009 Fargo Half Marathon long sleeve Tec Shirt

I wanted to run a marathon before I turned 30.  It was some strange thing that I wanted to do, no matter how injured I was…and yes, I started my training injured.  See I messed up my ankle on a pothole in Minneapolis in May 2009, ran a half marathon 6 days later as my injury was misdiagnosed and I was given the go ahead to run.  In the end, it didn’t quite heal properly, leading me to some body compensation and thus some major ITBS problems that required 4 months of physio, cupping, massage and acupuncture.  Note: in retrospect, I think it was stupid to start training for my first full when I was injured. lol.

I was in good shape when I had started though, and ready to take on the challenge, even with the injury and against my dad’s, a very experienced marathoner, advice. I had decided that, since I didn’t have any running friends at the same goals/pace as me, I would join The Running Room and run with a mutual friend, now one of my dearest friends, Oliver, who was running the marathon clinic at my nearest Running Room location (btw, for those of you who don’t know, Running Room is simply a running store across Canada and a few places in the U.S.).

The pre-marathon (night before the race) 5K action shot in order to satisfy the Go Far Challenge.

The pre-marathon (night before the race) 5K action shot in order to satisfy the Go Far Challenge.

The Running Room’s training program instructs runners to follow a run 10, walk 1 program, for the entirety of the race.  After training that way for the marathon, I realized it wasn’t for me.  The constant stops messed with me finding my flow and also made me horribly sore and a far slower runner.  The only really great part of doing a clinic at the Running Room was meeting some lovely people, including Oliver.

The training was hard (duh).  It happened over winter/spring season in Winnipeg–and when you are running outdoors in a place with -40 degree temperatures, you know it is going to be difficult.  It really was all mental–especially since I am not a morning runner to begin with–getting up at 6:30am on Sunday mornings to run 10 plus miles in cold temps was just hard.

I also learned a lot during those sessions.  I learned:

  • to always take a bathroom break when the opportunity is presented to you on a training run.
  • how to run with a group of people (as I have always been a solo runner and still am for the most part).
  • I cannot handle any sort of liquid or nutrition during a long run.  It causes me to get massive stitches in my side and feel horrible.
  • donating blood the day before running 20 miles for the first time in your life is a bad life choice.
  • how to pull out the clasp part of a bra from one’s back after 20 miles of chafing and clotting (the answer is warm compresses and something to bite down on as it’s ripped out of your back).  I still have the scars on my back from that last one.
  • coffee, be it iced or hot, is the best, post run recovery drink, along with a few glasses of water and finally,
  • how to trip, fall, roll and end up back on your feet like a ninja without anyone really noticing that you bit it or breaking your iPod, was one of the most valuable.

I think the worst part of the training, for me anyway, was the amount of time it all took.  3-4 hours every Sunday, plus all of the runs during the week, the foam rolling, the physio, the stretching, the meal planning…it took a lot out of me.  Especially when I had a rather demanding job in politics at the time.  The running was hard, too, don’t get me wrong…but I would’ve been running anyway…it was the lack of “chill time” that I really missed–like having brunch with friends on a Sunday morning, or just one of those days where all you want to do is putter around the house.  But I digress.

So now onto the race.  It was a miserable day.  It was warm, humid, storming and incredibly windy at times.  There were floods in the area so the route had been changed to go around the flood waters.  I ran without my sunglasses (massive mistake) and my music (didn’t really miss it).  I wore a tank top and relatively new shorts…apparently running in those shorts for 10 miles was fine…running in them for a very wet 26.2 not such a good idea.  Hello Chaffe monster!

Faked it til I made it through my first 26.2 in Fargo, ND--May 2010

Don’t let this happy picture from about Mile 23 fool you–it had been a rough day.

I was running ok until mile 4…that is when my ITBS related knee pain emerged.  As the pain increased, I started to get really emotional.  I knew my 4 hour time goal was toast if I was feeling THIS much pain at ONLY mile four, and well, I am in THIS much pain at mile 4?!  By mile six, I knew I was in trouble and needed an extended walk break.  I couldn’t hold back the tears of pain and disappointment anymore.  I encouraged my friend Oliver to continue on with the rest of the group (he was pacing us) and I decided to do the best I could and simply aim to finish.

After I calmed down , I embraced the experience and the support of the crowd.  I got hugs from strangers, and even some beer and beads (without having to flash anyone, I might add) and people cheered for me and encouraged me throughout the way.  I’m sure it was because they could see the pain and disappointment on my face, but the impact of that support was amazing. It made finishing seem possible.

The weather changed multiple times throughout that race…from rainy and stormy to hot and sunny, to windy to the point where it was blowing up the gravel and sand from the just finished winter and blowing it into your face (why I missed my sunnies) and attacking your bare legs.  The fact that the weather was so out of control motivated me to run a bit more and shorter walk breaks.

When I got down to that last mile, with the finish line (aka The Fargo Dome) in my sights, I ran as fast as my achy body would allow.

I finished in 4:25:10.

That time was nowhere near my goal, but better than I had expected given how badly the race spiralled. Post race, I vowed to do another marathon, but I would train for it my way.  No 10 and 1s.

I have yet live up to my vow as of yet.  Unlike my first half marathon experience, when I was eager to sign up for my next race, the Marathon left me humbled, exhausted, mighty sore and not super eager to do another Marathon real soon.  That has changed over the past 18 months or so…the desire to run a full is coming back.  I plan on living up to my vow, of training for a full and doing it my way – ie no 10 and 1s.  I just don’t know the “when” yet.

I promise though, that it will, 110%, happen one day, and hopefully sooner than later…even with my unfriendly to training job. 🙂  Hopefully I will mark this second marathon milestone at a big race like Disney, NYC, Twin Cities or Chicago.  I mean, a girl can hope, right?

So as Meridith begins her journey to completing her first full marathon, I wish her happy, safe training and a cool, wind free, wall-less race day.

Much love,

~Princess Lisa




11 thoughts on “That Time I Ran a Marathon

  1. I’m not sure what scares me more…knowing that if my ITBS is finally gone at the this year’s Wine and Dine that I will then pull the trigger on going full, or actually running a full! Kuods to you for doing just that and finishing – no matter what the time was. 🙂 An accomplishment to be proud of regardless of what the numbers on the clock said!

    • Thanks Kimberley. I am very proud of it now, but it took me some time after the fact to feel proud, which in retrospect is silly.

      I think that pulling the trigger and running on race day are the easiest parts so don’t be nervous about those days. Those are the exciting ones. 🙂

      I hope your ITBS heals up nicely for W&D and makes training for a full open to you. It is quite the experiences–filled with highs, lows, laughter, tears and some blood and bruises, too. 🙂

    • That is pretty much, almost word for word, what my dad said to me when I called him, in tears, to tell him about the race. lol.

      I look forward to trying again on my own–I am thinking late 2015/2016 might prove to be the right time to try. Like do Twin Cities in fall 2015 and then hopefully Dopey in Jan 2016 if life allows. 🙂

      • Nice! I won’t be able to do Twin Cities this fall as I will be at ToT with Lindsey, enjoying my contest win, but next year is def percolating in my head. Especially if a trip to Hell’s Kitchen happens post race! 🙂

        Ps. Congrats to your friend running her first 10-miler! Exciting!

  2. I am SO grateful for this post!!! Seriously. And um, you did a MARATHON in 4:25… injured. I’m super impressed as I’m picturing myself bringing up the rear in Philly. I find it interesting that the 10:1 intervals weren’t your jam, personally I’m loving interval training at the moment… but I’m thinking about maybe doing more running (5:1) than I’m currently doing (3:1). I’m really interested to see how my training progresses once I start REALLY training for the full. For now I’m going to keep working on making my foot feel better and better my half pace. xo

    • I’m so glad that you found it helpful!

      I don’t think it matters how/where you finish at the end of the day, especially for your first. Just go out there and try your very best–one never knows what race day can bring, after all.

      As for the 10 and 1s, I think it was just something I wasn’t used to. I like to start, find my groove and just go, stopping only if I really need the break. Having the forced breaks, even when I was feeling good, messed with that. Every stop meant I had to try and find my groove again, only to find that the groove was gone, so it just ended up being mentally tough. The physical was a problem, too, but I think that was simply because of the changes in strides/speeds or running in that style only once a week…and for long durations to boot.

      At the end of the day, I think if it intervals is something that you have always trained with, it works for you and you are comfortable with, I think you should absolutely continue. It is all about doing what works best for you.

      I think you will be surprised as to how your training changes and even your ideas/attitudes about training change once you start doing those long distances. All of a sudden, three miles feels like a joke. lol. and yes, I know it sounds snotty, but it’s true.

      Good luck with the continued healing of your foot and improving your half pace! I look forward to following your journey to the big ol 26.2! Yay! 🙂

  3. Wow! Amazing way to push through and finish! And amazing time on top of that! There’s no telling what you could do healthy! Btw, I’m doing my first half marathon in January at WDW…just saying, seems like it will be a pretty good choice for #2 for you! 🙂

    • The idea of training and running while healthy is exciting. I really hope that 2015/16 will mark my return back to the marathon distance. I would love to do the full at WDW this January, but my holidays and budget are committed to a lovely bunch of ladies at my run club at my gym–there are about 10 of us that are planning on participating in the Princess Half Weekend in 2015 on some level (be it 10K, Half or GSC). I wish you all the best in terms of training, health and racing at WDW. Maybe if you decide to do WDW Marathon again in 2016, I will see you there! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Friday Five – Top Race Memories – The Highs and Lows | Prairie Princess Runners

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