As I blogged about yesterday, I didn’t have a good first-time marathon. It has taken me the better part of a week to come to terms with my experience and move into a good space about what I initially viewed as a failure.
I didn’t achieve my goal of a sub-5-hour marathon and this was hugely disappointing to me! Then I got to grips with the “reality” that I can tell any story about the marathon and it will be just that, so my “story” is that I finished my first marathon. It didn’t go as well as planned but I have learnt (and am continuing to learn) and I will do better next time.
I had a pacing chart that would get me to the finish in just under 5 hours and I was doing well at each marker point up until the 20km mark. I was at 20km in 2:17:48 and my pacing chart said 2:17 and the half marathon point at 2:24:30. On target.
My dad had finished running his half-marathon and was on his bicycle waiting to follow and support me. It was just as I picked him up and passed the crane at the starting line to do my second loop, that I needed to be sick. I walked behind a bush and vomited. I thought that would be the end of it as I have vomited before and once I had “got it all out” I felt better and have continued running. However, this wasn’t going be the same. I continued to feel nauseous and vomited on numerous occasions but sometimes it was just dry retching. At this point, my running partner continued to run as I was now obviously holding her back every time I ran to the pavement or behind a tree.
I was feeling awful – light headed, unable to breath freely and still very nauseous. At one point a lady stopped to see if I was okay and suggested that I wasn’t breathing deeply enough and to lift my arms above my head and take deep breathes. This seemed to help a little but I also realised that I couldn’t take very deep breathes.
The long and the short of it was that I ran/walked alone or with my husband (he had finished his half-marathon in a PB time of 2:13:01, and got a lift with a friend to encourage me at the 34km mark. When he saw that I wasn’t doing so well he stayed with me to the finish – Thanks Ian, much appreciated). By 37km I was feeling way better and could actually run. I realised that I had missed the cut-off time of 5:30 for the marathon but it didn’t matter to me. I was going to finish the distance and when I crossed the line I was feeling like I could go on (slowly, but I could carry on running.)
There are so many things that could be the cause of my bad-run and there are a few things that made it a bad-run rather than an awfully-shocking run:
- I didn’t take in enough sugar/carbohydrates. I had run through the first two watering points because I had my own water with me. I had a sip of coke at the third (9km) and fifth (15km) watering points. I had chia-fresca (water, lemon juice, sugar and chia seeds) in my water bottle and had had a few sips, but not too much because I didn’t want to have to go to the toilet. My dad insisted I take lots of coke when I started vomiting and once I could keep it down, I’m sure that’s what helped me toward the end.
- I had worked myself up into an mild anxiety/panic attack and that was the reason that I couldn’t breath properly. The more I thought “I can’t take a deep breath” the more my breath got shorted and shallower. After I stopped at second last watering point, stood under the shade cloth, ate ice and gave myself a good talking too, I could breath better.
- I also don’t eat before I run, but I now realise that 42km is not like 21km and my strategy has to change for the longer distance.
- Other than my chia, I didn’t plan on having any other supplements. I am now re-looking at that.
- I must put spray sunblock on my feet and behind my knees.
The good that came out of it was that I found the words in my head to keep me going to the finish and this has got the “distance monkey” off my back.
So, even tho’ I didn’t achieve my goal, I have had a good learning experience.
I have decided to do another marathon on March 6 (The Cape Gate Vaal Marathon), to put any “ghosts to rest” – I don’t want to hold onto a bad experience for long.
I will be practicing eating before and during my long runs, might try some GU, will definitely drink coke at every watering point and am looking at a schedule of run/walk for the longer distances. I will be running a 21km race this weekend but plan on using it as a longer (28km) training run in order to try out my race-nutrition.
Please let me know what you have learnt from running longer distances and what has worked for you. I realise we are all different but until I had run my first marathon I didn’t know what I didn’t know and therefore didn’t know what questions to ask.
(Too avoid a too long post, and hence losing your interest, I will post my training plan in another post this week. I will also be commenting more on ‘the words in my head’)
Have a great running week