Thursday, November 3, 2011

What I Learned From Doing a Marathon

1.  ANYBODY CAN DO A MARATHON {If they have the desire to do so}...Going into my first marathon, I kept anticipating the feeling of accomplishment that I would have as I crossed the finish line, and that feeling motivated me through a lot of my training.  I don't want to downplay the feeling of accomplishment I had when I crossed the finish line {because it was pretty phenomenal, and unreal at times} but almost more powerful for me, was the realization that "anybody can do this." As I was on the downhill stretch into the finish line, I crossed the last place lady {she was at mile 16}, probably in her 70s, who was leading the police escort at the end. Throughout the entire race I had seen people of all different demographics, but she really left a lasting impact with me...if she could do this, I had NO excuse.  I challenge ANYBODY who has the slightest interest in doing a marathon {or any physical task that they think is beyond their ability} to go for it.  I'll touch base on this next, but our mind is a very powerful tool, and we truly can do whatever we put our mind too.  No matter what the time was as all 5,000+ people finished the marathon, they were all "marathoners" at the end of the day.

2.  A MARATHON IS ALL ABOUT MENTAL TOUGHNESS...For the most part, I would consider myself a mentally tough person, but the marathon really challenged me and pushed me to the next level.  Did I ever doubt that I would finish...NO! However, I did allow my mind to convince me that I needed to "take it easy" if I wanted to finish, telling me I was too tired, etc.  But on the flipside, I was so proud of the fact that I completed my first marathon, that rather than beat myself up for this or that, I really turned my focus to how I would improve my next marathon experience. Talking about mental toughness, leads right into my next lesson learned....

3.  TAKE A MARATHON MILE BY MILE...For the first half, I never really got into the groove of just running, rather I was SO focused on "how am I going to finish this" and "what is it going to look like!?"  The course was challenging, especially the first half; and it challenged me both mentally and physically.  At mile 7, as we were climbing a mile long hill, I thought to myself, "I'm TIRED! Not so tired that I can't go any further, but tired enough that I am not going to be able to finish 26.2 miles."  So, my focus was always on the finish, rather than on each individual mile.  And that's a crucial part of not only the marathon itself but of the training: it's important to keep your eye on the goal, but also focus on {and enjoy} every step along the way.

4.  HAVING A TRAINING PARTNER IS KEY...and I don't mean just any training partner.  I mean a committed, motivating, encouraging, willing to get up at 4:30 am on a Saturday, will take a potty break in the bushes in the middle of nowhere on your long runs kind of training partner.  I originally signed up for the marathon thinking I would be doing it solo {which I was ok with}, but I can't tell you what a blessing it was to have Hollie join me on the journey.  

5.  SUPPORT FROM FAMILY & FRIENDS IS PRICELESS...I can't begin to express my appreciation for all who supported, encouraged, advised, and believed in me.  It was the texts, calls, emails, and FB "cheers" that really gave me the extra boost of confidence.  Speaking of family...I learned {or it was reiterated} at the start line that I am a Roberts, and we Roberts run fast and don't quit {words from my dad}. I am blessed to have two of the most amazing parents who not only support and love each other unconditionally, but also love, support, & encourage their children unconditionally. I wouldn't be where I am at, doing the things I am doing, if it weren't for them.

6.  PROPER FUEL & HYDRATION IN CRITICAL...I struggled A LOT with this during training. I would wait until I "needed" to eat, and by then it was too late, and I would bonk.  I finally got it all dialed in, and ate every hour {sport beans} and drank NUUN everyone mile.  

7.  THINGS HAPPEN AFTER 26.2 MILES THAT YOU DON'T EXPERIENCE AFTER 13.1...Following the marathon I took a trip to the medical tent, not to have my entire body wrapped in ice bags or lay on a cot to receive oxygen {Yes, several people were doing both of those}, rather to have my massive {and PAINFUL} blisters looked at {I wasn't sure if they recommended bandaging them OR popping them}.  I felt bad for the paramedic in training helping me, because I can only imagine how bad my feet stunk, and he had his work cut out for him.  After applying layers upon layers of moleskin on all 3 of my blisters, I was good to go again {I was going to include a picture, but then I realized that might be a little too much}! Next, thanks to a nice hot shower following my ice bath, I discovered hot spots from chaffing {those of you who run know exactly what I am talking about!!!} that I had never experienced before...on my back where my sports bra rubbed, and on the backs of my legs...weird!  This leads nicely into my next lesson learned...

8.  YOU CAN'T USE ENOUGH BODYGLIDE...I was actually happy that overall I didn't chafe all that bad, but it was because I liberally applied the body glide. But evidently, not enough on my feet.  Just apply it from head to toe, because trust me, you will need it.

9.  ICE BATHS WORK WONDERS...I am a huge advocate of the ice bath, and don't do a long run without one.  

10.  KT TAPE IS A MIRACLE WORKER...About a year ago I had "knee" problems, which thanks to an evaluation from my friends {she's a physical therapist and he is an orthopedic surgeon}, I was relieved to know that it was actually my IT band.  I'm much better about stretching and rolling out on a foam roller, but it still bothers me occasionally, so I gave KT Tape a try.  I will be the first to admit that part of it is probably mental, but let me tell you what, this stuff works! I had absolutely NO pain in my knee/IT band area.  I now tape up for any run over 10 miles, or one with more hills than normal.

Now that I have my first marathon in the books, I am ready for my next! Perhaps Rock N Roll Seattle? Rock N Roll San Diego? Napa Wine Country? Disney?

But more important than deciding what my next marathon will be, I plan on taking what I learned from the marathon {commitment, dedication, mental strength, a can-do attitude, etc.} & apply it to all aspects of my life.  

Don't let you mind set limitation on what you can do...the ski is the limit!