Thursday, September 2, 2010

My First Marathon-Los Angeles 2002

I trained for my first marathon because I wanted to lose the baby weight.  I couldn't shake off the last ten pounds that I gained from my pregnancy.  Elena, my daughter was just a little over 2 yrs old then. 

Looking back to my first marathon, and how I've trained, I was fortunate I didn't get hurt anymore than I did. I trained myself using the Hal Higdon Novice Training program( I found it online it seemed pretty easy to follow: one long run, three days of midweek runs, one cross training day, and 2 days of rest. I liked it because it was simple, you just run the prescribed number of miles during the day and you're through. For the most part I stuck to the plan.  I missed an occasional run during the week for one reason or another such as, oh yes, having a toddler.  Missing a  run or two didn't hurt my performance.  Since my goal was to finish, it was enough for me that it didn't have the speedwork or trackwork that other programs called for. I would lose interest when looking at other programs, it would say, for example say "run 3x1200 using your 10K pace."  10K pace? What's that? How do I know what my pace was?  The Higdon Program's simplicity was enough to help me cross that finish line.

Following the miles was the easiest part.  Rest, hydration, stretching, nutrition, marathon tips were all foreign concepts for me in the beginning.  I was clueless.  I knew nothing about pacing. When it came time for the long runs, I carried my yellow Sony Walkman--that was the most important thing at the time.  Water belt? I had none.  I trained my body to deal with no water and it was surprising that I didn't cramp up.  During the actual marathon, this would prove to be a mistake. I drank water in every possible aid station there was.  The result, I stopped at every porta potty I saw.  My body did not know how to react to the water I was giving it. It was a shock to my body so it tried to get rid of it.

During the training, I did not eat right. I never carried any gels, or food during my long runs. At the 20th mile mark, I hit the wall with a bang.  As if that was not enough, I also thought I was cured of my foot ailments.  I don't know what made me do this, but I took off my orthotics before the race and it hurt me during the final miles.  Both my knees hurt so badly that I had to walk for the last six miles. Sharp shooting pain shot up my legs every time I took a step. It's a wonder how I ever finished.

The Los Angeles marathon course was a blurr.  I remember the start of the race and being in the midst of the huge crowd of runners and feeling insignificant.  Standing amongst runners I was scared and started to second guess my training. Did I train well enough? Maybe I shouldn't have missed any runs. I remember asking, "What am I doing here?"  But as soon as that gun popped, it was all game.  All of my insecurities and fears subsided, I just ran.  I didn't know anything about pacing, I knew I ran too fast too soon because I remember feeling anaerobic only into the third mile! I had to slow down considerably to get my breathing under control.   Pretty much the whole way, it was a struggle to the finish.  When I did get to the finish, it was anti-climatic.  There were no tears of joy. It was nothing like I had imagined.  Many times in training runs, I would visualized myself crossing the finish with hands in the air and bending down to kiss the ground in ecstasy. As I gimped over to the finish chute, an aide wrapped me in a space blanket and hung my finisher's medal around my neck.  My legs were sore. I felt blisters on the soles of my feet. I was exhausted, hungry and depleted, but relieved that it was finally over in 5 hours, 17 minutes and 11 seconds.  My head spun around to my next areas of concern.  How was I going to get home? Where was I?  I need a phone booth.  How in the world will my family find me?

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