The agony and ecstasy of a first-time marathoner
Hi, my name is Lauren and I’m an e-marketing specialist here at CDPHP and one of the brains behind The Daily Dose. I’m about to embark on the journey of a lifetime: running my first marathon in January. I officially began a grueling training regimen about a month ago and am documenting my experience on the blog. Why? Well, I’d like to start a conversation. I know many of you in the local running community are, like me, first-time marathoners. Or, perhaps you’ve ran several marathons and have some tips and guidance to share. Either way, I invite you to join me on this journey and hopefully you’ll walk, or run, away with some inspiration, knowledge, or at the very least, a good laugh at my expense.
Part I: What Did I Get Myself Into?
I’ve just started my fourth week of what is by far the craziest thing I’ve done to date: training for my first marathon. Money has been spent and the hard part has begun. Running. Lots and lots of running, sprinkled with some cross-training and hopefully a little fun as well.
If it weren’t for the amazing group of friends I’m surrounded by, I would have never gotten to this point. I’ve dug my feet in multiple times, insisting on only signing up for half-marathons when they started pushing for full. I wasn’t able to stop them this time, so, like the lemming I am, I signed up. It helps that they’re all very positive and motivating people. They believe we can do this, so I believe we can do this. They’ve also promised me that this is the only time we will ever, ever run a full marathon. It’s obvious they’re lying to me, but it feels great to think that if I work really hard for this, I’ll never have to do it again. That’s the plan, anyway.
Some of my fears:
- My training spreadsheet. Intimidating. I have it printed out and tacked up at work and at home and sometimes I find myself staring at it and starting to panic. It calls for some hefty mileage that I just cannot comprehend. It’s going to consume my life, but I’m somehow OK with that. I’ve been crossing out each of the runs and workouts as I go along. It makes it much easier for me to process what lies ahead.
- Beer. Cider. Wine. Or rather the lack thereof. In another two weeks, everything increases in intensity. We will all have to start focusing on better nutrition so that we have the energy for those incomprehensible long runs. Goodbye happy hours, goodbye mimosas at brunch, goodbye to the love of my life, red wine. Or specifically as of late – a nice glass of Rioja enjoyed on a Friday night with some takeout after work. Wait, who am I kidding? I’m not changing my Friday night routine. Anyway, hello to proteins, smoothies, veggies, friendly carbs, and water, water, water.
- Cold weather. Although hard to imagine currently, I know it won’t be long before the temperature really starts to dip. I cannot fathom doing some of these double-digit runs indoors like a hamster on a wheel. No. Just no. Last year was the first year I started running outside in the winter, so I’m slightly prepared for what’s coming. It’s one thing to spend an hour and a half running in the snow, but increase that to potentially four-plus hours? Well, hopefully some amusing stories will come out of it.
What amazes me:
- I can commit to signing up for a full marathon and all that’s entailed. I’m not confident about my pace time. I’m not even confident I can finish it without stopping. But, running has taught me so much, and a lot of what I get out of it is, if we all continue to put one foot in front of the other, we can reach amazing places and see amazing things.
- My friends. I’m surrounded by incredibly strong women. Not just the ones who have signed up for this marathon, but also everyone else who runs with us or shows up for these workouts. They’re all so remarkable and their personalities keep me motivated. We all have days where we feel like we have failed in one way or another, but they remind me that those feelings are pretty ridiculous. The important thing is that we’re all moving forward through whatever life throws at us. I’m so very grateful for their energy.
It has taken me eight years to get to this point. I can personally relate to the phrase, “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” My first time running, I made it about a quarter of a mile before I started walking, then another quarter mile, with another walk. Eventually I got to a half mile, then a full mile. My first long race was 3.5 miles and my body felt like it might never recover.
If I get down about my pace time now, or how hard it is to run that last mile, I just recall those days when I first started. I know I’ve grown as a person and I know I can push myself further than I’ve ever thought. Even if I do forget, the ladies will keep me motivated.
So, here I am, starting on this grand new adventure. Do you have any tips and tricks that you use to stay motivated? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below.
Want more? Check out Part II.
Photo: The group that sweats together, stays together. This shot was taken after conquering nine miles on an 80-plus degree day back in early September. Clockwise from left: Lauren Daknis, Suzanne Huwe, Laura Cotugno, and Jenny Williams.