Its done. A full year of training and anticipating the 2018 Kiawah Marathon and now it.is.done.
A year ago I signed up for a marathon. I thought it was a great goal to have and I was riding off of the high of watching my husband Delbert and my brother Aaron run it. I was excited for conquering a goal that I wasn’t sure that I could make. Only a minuscule percentage of people have ever completed a marathon, and now I know why. I have learned a lot on my year-long journey to a marathon. Some lessons helped me get through the day and others will help me get through life, but all were important.
Here are the top 10 lessons learned from my marathon
- Get good shoes – My first step toward a marathon was into Fleet Feet. They are in Summerville and Mt. Pleasant so they are fairly easy to get to on each side of Charleston. I have always purchased shoes based on the look and color and I have to say that finding a shoe solely by the fit was a little weird. My normal neutral shoe color was knocked out of the water when the shoe that fit me best was HOT/NEON PINK! I figured that I looked like a clown, but I felt like I was running on a cloud and funny enough I got so many compliments on them. The proper shoe and inserts can help your feet go much further than you think. Get fitted…it is worth it!
- Find your tribe – Another great reason to go to a professional is that they know a lot about running and they can help you find a group to train with. Luckily, I had a tribe. My workout group of ladies called FIA. My husband was supported by his guys, F3 and together, these men and women supported me on my journey. They cheered for me throughout the year, helped me figure out weird pains, called me out when I slacked, and traded hugs and high-fives with me as we passed on training runs. It feels great to be able to cheer others on as they are chasing their dreams just like I was.
- Find a training plan – I chose a 32-week training plan. I am a novice in long runs and really really slow. The 32 week plan helped me gradually get to where I needed to be. Most training plans are 16 – 20 weeks, but I really feel like I did the right thing with 32 weeks.
- Stay focused – The downside to such a long training time is that I would get disenchanted with running quickly, so I made a side goal to run an event every month in 2018 leading up to the marathon. That kept my mind on training and having small goals to conquer. This was integral for me by holding my focus and keeping me moving forward.
- Listen to your body – One thing I did learn was to listen to my body. Some days the runs were easy, some days the runs were hard, some days I didn’t run far enough, and some days I didn’t run at all. When the weekly runs got over twenty miles, my body started having a lot more aches. I had to listen to my body and ask my tribe what the heck was wrong with me! They helped and I did the things that my body needed like stretching, rolling (yes this is important) and even yoga to help my aching body.
- Vaseline is a life saver – You don’t want to know, but here goes. USE VASELINE if you are running more than thirteen miles at a time. If you need to know where to put it, run fifteen miles and find the places that hurt. Body glide is also a great thing to use. I actually used both for the marathon. But Vaseline worked well for me.
- Proper clothes matter – The rule of thumb is to dress for running as if it is twenty degrees warmer than it actually is. So I dressed for a sixty degree day even though the marathon day was forty. I did have a long sleeve shirt on over my tank top, but I had to pull it off at the two-mile marker because I was so sweaty already. There are plenty of studies on how many clothes to wear and how hot you should actually get, but I learned by trial and error as I was training for the marathon. I would really suggest running your final long runs in the outfit that you plan on wearing to complete the marathon in. My marathon shirt had a hard reflective line that actually rubbed my arm almost raw. I could have avoided that if I would have worn it on a training run
- Accept help – Accepting help doesn’t mean that you’re weak. It means that you know your limits. My husband held down the fort while I was out on training runs, and he usually had pancakes and a bottle of water waiting for me at the end of them. My friend, Ericka watched the kids for me when he was out of town. I hated asking for help, but I knew that I couldn’t do it on my own.
- Sleep – Running wears a girl out. I usually have a hard time falling asleep, but not anymore. Allow yourself to have a little extra shut-eye, even some naps (#gasp). Your body is doing hard things and it needs some some extra rest!
- Have “fun” – Everyone said to “Have Fun!” and “Enjoy the Day!” Let me tell you, the day was mostly just hard. Running 26.2 miles is not really what I call fun. But something magical happened to me around mile twenty-five. My tribe, my FiA sisters and F3 brothers came and found me on the course. They ran the last mile with me constantly lifting me up with their words. They knew that I was tired but their love for me gave me that last extra push that I needed to get across the finish line as they ran alongside the course on the sidewalk. And I could hear the cheers of the rest of my tribe surrounding the finish line screaming my name. So many friends wouldn’t leave until they saw me cross that finish line and get my medal. It was so humbling and empowering at the same time. I just smiled and cried and smiled some more. I have to say that Dec 8, 2018 is one of the best days of my life.
Marathons are hard but to me, it was so worth the effort! I can now proudly state that I am a marathon runner. Now….on to the next adventure.