I’m not fully certain where I want to start this post. I’m not sure if I’m ready to explain where my thoughts are after running my first marathon.
I am thrilled with finishing and doing something that most people will never do. However, I would rather say I finished with the time and pace I had trained to accomplish. More on that later.
The Tulsa Route 66 Marathon was a magnificent event. The crowd support along the route was great. Aid stations where well stocked and restrooms abundant on the route.
The only thing I might change is I would not have paid for the Mother Road and VIP package. That was not necessary if your hotel is between the start and finish line like mine was. The start line food didn’t make it in time to the VIP tent and I only had time to grab one mini-muffin before having to run to corral C. Otherwise, it was a wonderful experience.
Garmin has the route at about 960 feet of elevation gain, and the wind was whipping between 10-15 MPH from the north.
Yet, I had hoped for a much better finish time and that’s why I have mixed emotions. 232 out of over 953 runners should feel good for a first timer, and it does on many levels.
The training was difficult. Certainly, I needed help pushing myself to do the training and the Lord helped push me. The Holy Spirit urging me to press on when my flesh didn’t want to on occasion.
Since my first half-marathon training started almost four years ago, I do runs three days per week, with a long run on the weekend of between six and ten miles.
However, my marathon training started about thirteen weeks ago. I started a premium Strava training plan created by McMillan running at the beginner level (Link here). It gave me a full twelve weeks of training planned (and more if needed) and would also send me an email each day of what I need to do in my training the next few days. It also included a write up of why and motivational quotes.
In the summer, I had to wake up early on Sunday mornings before church to do my long runs. I don’t really like early morning wake ups, but it was too hot training in the afternoons and evenings in the summer and early fall. It also meant that I had to put in many more miles during the weekdays. This meant less time for weight training, which I really enjoy.
Yet I did the training as directed, and going into the race weekend, I felt ready. And my body was ready. I completed the marathon with a great finish time for a first-time marathon runner. (4’09”) I finished in the top third of all runners. That’s awesome, right?
The problem is, I wanted it in under four hours and closer to 3’45”. And in my twenty-mile training run, I was well on target to reach that goal on fresh legs.
The first twenty miles went great and on a good pace for the elevation gain and 15mph head winds. Yet the last six miles is where my inexperience became evident. I went from an 8:30/m pace to 14/m pace for the last six miles due to cramping. I knew those last six would be slower, I had planned for a 9:05/m pace for that last six miles in my pace strategy. But these cramps were the dreaded “wall” I guess. I hit the “wall”.
I reached mile 20 in 2:52:28, and I had kept my pace goal so that I would not overrun my training in the first part of the race. Just like I trained. The last six miles were mostly downhill as compared to the first twenty miles. I should have easily reached my goal. But it didn’t happen.
So, I’ve learned valuable lessons on my first marathon. Race day hydration and calorie intake strategies need to be tuned. With the Lord’s help, until I reach my finish time goal, I’m going to keep trying to hit my pace goal. Next time, I’ll have a foundation and a little more knowledge to bring with me on the road.