So after months of training, I finally ran in the Miami Marathon. I use the term “ran” a bit liberally because in truth, it wasn’t 13.1 miles of solid running the way I had envisioned it during all those months of training. But regardless of the running details, it was an extraordinary experience made all the more meaningful by the funds I raised for Chai Lifeline (an organization you can read about here). There are a number of things I learned while training for this event and having gone the 13.1 miles, there are things I learned about actually running in these things. So here goes. My list of things I learned running in a marathon (or half-marathon):
1. You don’t actually start at the gun. This is something I wish I would have known beforehand because I wouldn’t have been so brutally honest with my expected finish time. But based on your estimated pace, they place you in different corrals. I was in corral J, which clearly stands for “Just Kidding.” The only comfort I got was that there was a “K” group behind me. In any event, group “J” started crossing the start line 45 minutes after group “A” did. So that’s a huge downer and pretty much sucks. Next time, I’m saying I can finish in an hour. Of course, most of the people running on my team were with me in “J” land, so there’s that.
2.There are bathrooms on the side of the road that have wait times of close to 10 minutes. I stopped at one of them and watched in horror as thousands of people passed me by and knew that my race time finish was going to be pathetic. Afterwards, some running friends told me that they don’t stop for the potties. They just pee on themselves as they run. I’ll pause to let you think about that for a second. It made me really happy that I was not on that level of runner. I’ll take the 10 minute time deficit and use the toilet. I’m good.
3. Mile 10 defies the laws of physics and time. It is straight up the longest mile ever. It’s also the time to jump into those energy jelly beans that are seriously a gift from God. I don’t think I ate them as much as I inhaled them.
4. The best part of running a half-marathon, other than getting to the finish line, is getting to the point where the path divides between the half-marathoners and the full-marathoners. I was turning off to finish the last two miles or so and glanced at the people who were off to run another 15 miles and all I could think was “Bye, Felicia!”
5. If the weather is bad, the first three miles are harder than the last. I was ready to quit after mile 1 and was really worried. I mean, that was supposed to be the easy part! But it was pouring rain, 50 degrees, windy, and the first part of the race was over a causeway. I wanted to die.
6. There are ways to cheat and people actually do. I didn’t, but I was tempted to when I saw other people cut out a mile and half of their run by crossing over a divider and going the other way. I could have cheated, but I was in it for the whole run. It was 13.1 miles or nothing for me. And seriously? Who are you even cheating against??
7. I really admire the people cheering on the side of the road. I mean, what do they care if I run or not? But they definitely help move you along. I high-fived everyone I could. Best part? Seeing my brother and his wife who came out from Jersey to cheer me along at mile 8. There is nothing like seeing family along the route.
8. At a certain point I straight-up could not feel my feet. It was equal parts worrisome and awesome. If I had blisters, I would just not even know. Win!
9. Running with someone definitely is crucial around mile 9. I met up with some people who were running on the same team and it definitely made the whole mile 10 nightmare go a lot smoother.
10. After the race is finished I could have eaten an entire bear. No joke. I would have ripped it apart and eaten that sucker raw. That’s how hungry you are. I don’t think I ever scarfed down that much food in such a small span of time.
11. Your body will want to kill you for a few days after the run. I was walking around like a 90 year old for a week trying to score some cortisone shots in back alleys and abandoned buildings.
12. Crossing the finish line was kind of like giving birth. I had trained for months, went through the labor of the run, and finally crossed the finish line. It was painful. It was emotional. But it was powerful and unbelievable. And I would do it again.