I did my first marathon! It hurt. It was much harder than I expected, much more painful than a half distance triathlon or anything else I've tried. But I also recovered much faster than I expected, based on the duration of the event.
My roommate and I headed to Virginia Beach at around noon on Saturday. Between bad traffic and stops for peeing and snacks, the 3 hour drive took us almost 6 hours. And then when we got to Virginia Beach, we had mapped the wrong convention center location (the convention and tourism office instead of the actual convention center). By this point, I only had 45 minutes left to pick up my racing packet, so I was super stressed. After that, we had to drive up and down the main drag in Virginia Beach looking for my hotel. I couldn't find my confirmation e-mail for my hotel, but I had in my mind it was a Days Inn that I was staying at. I was wrong. We went to both Days Inn locations on the beach, and I wasn't booked at either one. I finally found my confirmation email, and realized that I was actually booked at a Best Western. So then, of course, we went to the wrong Best Western. We finally got to our hotel--and keep in mind that we've driven up and down Atlantic Avenue 3 times at this point, and each 1-mile trip was taking 10-15 minutes, so we'd been fighting through the ridiculousness for an hour--and we were greeted by this view:
I needed a nap and a butt-load of water at that point, though.
My parents arrived shortly after we did, and we settled into our room. Once we figured out the sleeping arrangements, we headed to a popular Italian spot for dinner.
I woke up at 5:30 (3 hours before race start) to try and get my breakfast in. I brought a huge bowl of steel-cut oatmeal with protein powder, coconut oil, and raspberry jam. I ate most of the oatmeal, but 2 cups of steel-cut oats is a lot. I figure I ended up with about 500 calories for breakfast.
At halfway, I tried to pick up the pace a little bit, which I think was a mistake. I should have stayed steady until the last 3-4 miles. I had a very rough time from around mile 17 to . . . until the end of the race, actually. Maybe if I'd kept it slow at mile 14, I would have felt stronger throughout the second half.
I'm not very happy with my pacing. I was able to restrain myself early in the race, but my plan to pick up my pace in the second half was not wise. Now that I've done a marathon, I think I'll be able to develop a better race plan and pace more consistently. I was counting on a negative split, but a better strategy would have been to keep things easy until the last 10k, or even later.
I experienced virtually no chafing, though I did stop at about the 17 mile point to put some lube on my little toes. But I had no blisters on my feet at the end of the race, no raw spots that surprised me during my first post-race shower. Normally I get chafing under my arms and in my . . . personal area. Aquafor and chamois cream, and lots of practice on where and how much to apply, served me well.
I'm also surprised by how quickly I recovered. I had a hard time with stairs on Monday and Tuesday, but by Wednesday I felt like I'd just come off a week of recovery: snappy legs, no muscle soreness, I was rocking my commute! And I didn't get the horrible stomach upset that I often feel at the end of triathlons. So marathons are much worse during, but much better after.
I can't decide whether I'll do more marathons . . . For sure I won't do one again until after my Ironman in September, but I'm not sure if I ever want to do that again. I said the same thing after my first triathlon, though; I imagine that the challenge of figuring out the training and racing puzzle will draw me back eventually.
Final: 5:10:39 (11:51/mile)