The marathon is quite a symbol for a runner. We fantasize about it. We are afraid of it. We are all different and so, we approach it in different ways. Fiction or reality, what is a marathon?
Signing up for a marathon
For me, the marathon was an adventure, a whole thing. Yes, it was the race in itself, but not only. It also was everything around it. The training is part of the journey. You can't decide to run a marathon as you decide to run a 10K. In my opinion, you really have to be ready to commit to it before signing up. For me, it means: motivation, desire, determination, excitement. Ready to give each of that 100%.
I'm sceptic about the fact we can really appreciate a marathon if the main goal is "running a marathon to cross it from a bucket list". But, again, we are all different. For me, it would have never worked out. I don't work this way.
When I signed up for the marathon, I was 100% ready to take on the challenge. The playboy didn't want to do it. His reasons: "I will never have time", "the long runs will be too long". My answer: we make it work and we find time if we really want to do it. The real reason wasn't a lack of time but a lack of desire. I understand that and I respect it. When I crossed the finish line, in Santa Barbara, one of the first things I told him was: "I'll never push you to run a marathon if the desire to run one is not coming from you". This race is too hard to commit to it if you're half convinced. Having run one myself, I am even more stuck to this idea.
You have to train for a marathon. I don't think the average person can run a marathon, just like that. The training is hard. It's long. It's tiring. So, even at this point, you have to WANT to do it. If you don't really want, I can't really understand how you could enjoy the training. Before a 20-mile long run, if you are thinking "I can't wait for it to be done", it probably would be VERY long. And if you are thinking like that for 12, 14, 16 or even 20 weeks... how can you enjoy it? In my opinion, you don't have to endure the training. (I do it because I have to if I want to run a marathon). You have to embrace it and find enjoyment in it too.
I really enjoyed my training. I saw it like a big experiment. How will my body react? How will I be able to run for so long? How will I hydrate? And eat? Everything was new. I already said it, but, really, I am fascinated by how our body can adapt to the work load. The limits are pushed, little by little. The muscle fatigue. The long runs, longer each time. These distances which seem unreachable and which become almost "normal".
And, finally, the race. The marathon. I only ran one. I can't say I know the distance. Will this distance become familiar to me, one day? I don't know. But, after my first marathon, I thought: there's no comparison with a half marathon. A marathon is way harder and way more interesting.
It's way harder because, for the marathon, the mental strength is taking a huge part. We prepared ourselves physically. The body is ready. But, anyway, at one point during the race, our body will get into emergency mode. For sure. "Wait, what are you doing? STOP!". And, this moment will happen early on. There will still be a long way to go. We won't be able to just grit our teeth and wait for the last miles to go. That's when we'll have to be mentally strong in order to carry on. Remind ourselves why we are doing it and that we can do it. It's hard but it's the whole point.
I get through it thanks to my determination and my motivation. That's why I can't fully comprehend the idea of running a marathon, just to run one. But, everyone has their reasons. If it makes you mentally strong, then, fine.
As for the physical aspect, for me, everything went well. Lucky? Well trained? I don't have enough experience to tell. But, it was the scariest part for me because it's unpredictable. I don't know how I would have handled an injury, fainting or vomiting.
After the finish line
Actually, the most difficult thing was to stop running. My legs didn't know what to do anymore. I was feeling fine (even if really hot). I wasn't thirsty nor hungry. No pain. OF COURSE, my legs were tired, but not painful. I walked to relax them.
I didn't feel the need to sit down. But, I did, after feeling light headed while bending over to take my shoes off. Nothing to worry about. I sat down for 5 min, just to be safe, and it was ok.
My ice bath in the ocean was a real relief. It relaxed my legs. It also certainly helped to cool my whole body.
I didn't eat anything just after the race. I only drank water. It's not strange. It usually takes me a little while to get hungry after a big long run or a race. Having said that, I still ate something, an hour after crossing the finish line. I learnt, the day before the race, an ice cream food truck would be at the finish. I had said it would be my reward. So, we went for one but I wasn't really hungry.
In the afternoon, I didn't want to spend the day sitting down. So, we ran errands, just moving around and moving my legs.
The following days / the recovery
Muscle stiffness the 2 days after? It hasn't been that terrible. Yes, my muscles were aching, but nothing unbearable. And, really, I think that the least I could expect, don't you think?
However, signs showed me my organism has been affected. I didn't feel hungry for days. Not hungry at all, then just a little and quickly satisfied. Other sign: restless nights. I was tired but I couldn't sleep well (even the night after the marathon). It took a few days to get back to normal. Then, for 2 weeks, I didn't want to eat sweet things. And, believe me, that's TOTALLY NOT normal for me. It eventually came back.
As for running, I quickly felt the need to slip on my running shoes. I went easy and gradually. I took the month of November really easy (not fast, not intense). I didn't push myself.
Also, even if I've been frantically looking around to find a new race (I'm only speaking about running, not triathlon), I realized I was not ready to commit yet. In December, someone suggested to run the LA marathon, mid-March. I deeply considered it. One day I was in, one day I wasn't. I couldn't decide. Physically, I could have run it. But, I wasn't excited by this marathon. The idea of a new challenge attracted me. But it was not the right one for my determination to get on board too. And I need to be 100% committed to appreciate it. 3 months after the marathon, I think it's coming back. I just need to find the right race.
In my opinion, a marathon is really interesting, but as a whole. I know everyone will have his own experience and will apprehend it differently. That's why I wanted to give you my impressions, in hindsight. And, is it necessary to tell? Yes, I want to run another one. I need to do it, anyway. My whole marathon analysis depends on it.
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