I can't believe I went that slow

Monday, October 17, 2011

My marathon yesterday was crazy slow - closer to 6 hours than 5 hours. But, I was on pace for a 5 hour marathon at the half. Once I got past mile 14, my body just quit. I couldn't do it any more. My first half was 11:25 pace, and my second was about 14:30 pace. It was crazy.

But, I'm not upset. I finished it and that's what I set out to do.

I had a doctor last year who told me that I had to figure out for myself what my running "maximum mileage" was. Yesterday, it was CLEARLY 13.1. I should have turned left instead of going straight....

So, no more full marathons for me - just half marathons, 10k's and 5k's!

I guess I should probably clarify, because judging by what I've read, people think this was my first marathon. It was actually #5, after a long string of injuries. But, I'm not upset about how I did - that race entry has been hanging over my head since 2009. I had to finish it. I have other things to do right now, and since I'm slow, 20 milers take me 4+ hours (they used to only take 3 hours but not any more). Maybe in 5 years or so I will try again. But I know I can't lose weight, and work on speed if I am always training for 26.2.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    First off all, proud of you for finishing! You and I are in the same boat regarding marathons- my body says no, so I figure I better listen-LOL I hope to be 100% someday, so I can take on that 26.2, but for now, I am grateful to just run and its been a fun year running wise. It's crazy too, because the highlight of my running was the Akron half- I only ran 2 halfs all year- I was slow, but it was fabulous!
    3517 days ago
    Though my planned/actual pacing goals were different from yours, my 1st Marathon Experience was similar. I was very disappointed by the results and, at first, couldn't figure out what went wrong. I did console myself in knowing that just completing the distance was an accomplishment in itself; and it definitely is. So there's no diminishing that.

    But I did analyze (and over analyze) the race and my training leading up to it, trying to solve the puzzle as to what happened. My problems really started to hit at Mile 16, when I began to feel muscle spasms in my legs, which was something I'd never experienced in all my training. By Mile 22, I was completely locking up. I finished, but those final 10 miles were grueling and something I didn't want to ever repeat.

    It only took me a couple of days, though, to decide that the way I wouldn't repeat it was not by never planning to run another marathon. Instead, I set out to solve the puzzle and see if I could correct whatever had gone wrong and complete the distance without the misery.

    You may not choose to do that, and I wouldn't blame you. Tackling marathon distance isn't for everyone, and it's not something you have to do to be fit. In fact, all that running can sometimes work contrary to fitness, what with the impact to joints and required calorie-loading needed to fuel the effort.

    But for me, I deduced that I simply didn't train correctly for the race I wound up trying to run. (Or, similarly, I didn't run the race correctly given how I had trained.) Contrary to what I was thinking shortly after the race, there was nothing mysterious about what had happened. I had made the same mistake hundreds of thousands of rookie marathoners make, regardless of their swiftness. I went too fast over the early part of the race. Other things (insufficient water, not downing carbs/GUs earlier, hotter day than expected) contributed, but the bottom line was that I was too fast too early.

    The marathon is a different beast than the other races at HM distance or shorter. Somewhere beyond 15-16 miles, depending on who you are, the challenge becomes different. The physiology of running becomes different. Once I figured that out, I adjusted my training, tackled it again, treating the first 20 miles like a warmup and only the last 6 miles like a race. What I mean is that I kept my pace way...way...slow over the first half. I drank and ate continuously, whether I felt the need or not. I even incorporated mandatory walking breaks at intervals, quelling the urge to press the pace early. And those measures made all the difference. I still didn't meet my time goal, but it was a major improvement and I never entered the "pain cave."

    If you do decide to give it a try again, take a look at the Galloway method, both in training and in race execution (if you haven't already). If you do decide to bag ever doing a marathon again, then I totally get that too, and you won't ever find me trying to evangelize marathon running. I already feel kind of nutty for being addicted myself. Just felt compelled to share and to let you know your experience was far from unusual.
    3529 days ago
    Congratulations on finishing your race!!! You should be proud of your accomplishment.
    3530 days ago
    At least you where able to finish! Congrats!! emoticon
    3530 days ago
    Hrm. I don't think that this means you're not made for marathons.

    So many things could have made your second half slower than your first. Were you properly fueled and hydrated? Was your training adequate? Did you go out too fast in the first half and burn yourself out? My guess is it was a combo of factors that all compiled to make the race a bit harder than expected.

    If you didn't enjoy the training or the race at all, then yes. No more marathons. But if it's something you want to do, don't let one "bad" race (you finished uninjured, it's not a bad race!) tell you what you are "supposed" to be doing.

    If that were the case, I'd have stopped after marathon number 2 which was a misery. My slowest one and it felt the hardest.

    Number three was better. Number four, just over a week ago, was my best yet and I blew my time outta the water ( a PR by 12 minutes and faster than I thought I could ever do) and felt fine. I cried at mile 24-25. I *always* do (LOL) but it was a great race.

    Congrats on finishing your race. Happy running, whatever you decide to do. :) I swore no more marathons after my second and look where I am. Number five is in January with a trail marathon next August AND my first ultra 50K looking imminent! ;)
    3530 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/17/2011 2:04:56 PM
    At least you did it, and now you know. My first marathon is in two weeks, I am banking on the same experience. Congratulations on finishing!!
    3530 days ago
    Congrats on finishing, but I think an important lesson was learned here, obviously! :) You gotta do what your body allows you to do; there's no sense in pushing yourself beyond the limit just because. Hope you're recovering!
    3530 days ago
    Molly, congratulations on finishing and also on coming to such an important realization! Enjoy your recovery!
    3530 days ago
    Everyone does have to find what their own body can do. But the fact that you did this full marathon is an awesome accomplishment, even if you never do another one. Be proud of yourself! I don't think I'll ever attempt one but do want to do some halfs. Get some rest today!
    3530 days ago
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