Two days ago, I became a marathoner.  It was, without a doubt, the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  But it was also, without a doubt, the most satisfying thing I have ever done.

I trained for almost a year to get to this point.  I’ve been through injuries, illness, burnout, tears, stress, and sleep deprivation.  And I wouldn’t take it back.

What I did right

  • I improved my diet, which gave me loads more energy and made me feel a million times better.  First I went vegetarian.  Then I started to eliminate processed foods.  Finally, I made the last step and went vegan.  I feel great and now LOVE cooking and experimenting with food.
  • I developed a healthy relationship with food and learned how to eat right to fuel my runs and my body.
  • I learned what was important to me.  I developed a new sense of who I am and what I want in my life.  I now love the person that I have become.
  • I developed a great support group of friends who love me and make me happy.  Some are runners, some are not.  But they all get behind me and my goals and for that I am extremely grateful.
  • I learned a LOT about nutrition and physiology.  Which helped me immensely.
  • I worked on switching to a mid/forefoot strike, which improved my running form, strengthened my leg muscles, and helped me overcome multiple overuse injuries (runners knee and plantar fasciitis).

What I did wrong

  • I didn’t strength train.
  • I didn’t cross train.
  • I didn’t stretch.
  • I didn’t follow my training plan as closely as I should have.  There were lots of missed/skipped runs.
  • I made excuses for skipping/missing my runs.
  • Initially, I tried to do too much too soon.  Which was what gave me my runner’s knee problems when I was training for Buffalo in May.  I should have developed a stronger base first.
  • Initially, I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food.  I restricted my calorie intake too much and didn’t have the fuel my body needed.  It made me feel lethargic and burned out and I basically wasted two whole months (February and March of this year) because I didn’t have the energy for running.

What I learned

  • I am capable of things I never thought I could do.
  • My body is amazingly strong.
  • Once you have a good base mileage, running is mostly mental.
  • With enough time, patience, and determination, you can do just about anything.
  • It’s more fun to run with a friend.  (Thanks Carrie and Chelsea!)
  • Sometimes, you just need a break.  A couple days off here and there can do a lot of good.
  • Food is GOOD!  It’s not something to be feared.  Eat right and eat enough, and you’ll feel great.

What’s next?

I am definitely NOT one of those people who crosses the finish line and says “never again!”  I crossed the finish line and immediately thought “oh I can beat that time EASY.”  I’m already itching to get back out and run/lift/swim/bike.  But I need to give my body a couple days of rest so I can recover first.

At the moment, I’m trying to decide what exactly is my plan for the winter and spring.  I was planning on running the North Face 50 miler at Bear Mountain in early May, but I want to redeem myself at the Buffalo Marathon at the end of May and I definitely can’t do them both.  They’re too close together.  I’m still deciding, but it looks like it will probably be Buffalo Marathon redemption for me.  I’m working on convincing my friend, Chelsea, to run it with me.

Now it’s time to play around with my schedule and figure out what I want to do next!