I have a feeling this post will be extremely rambling, so apologies in advance! It’s been 2 weeks since the Oakland Marathon and being the reflective (i.e., overly analytical) person that I am, I have many thoughts about the experience.
Let’s start with the GOOD:
- As I discussed in my recap, I was able to maintain a positive attitude throughout the race. This was huge.
- I got to see the Gypsy Runner and several other friends along the course.
- I had no fueling or GI problems.
- No chafing! On a really hot day!! All the exclamations!!!!
- My Garmin said that I ran only 0.2 miles longer than 26.2. That’s a victory for this curvy course, in my book.
- No race day logistical issues with transportation, drop bags, etc. Everything went very smoothly.
Next, the BAD:
- My pace progressed (or rather, regressed) for each quarter of the marathon from 10:08 to 10:33 to 10:51 to 12:13/mile (yikes!). Perhaps I pushed too hard on the hills, or I was undertrained, or it was too hot — or all of the above. To be honest, part of me just didn’t care.
- Calf cramps. ‘Nuff said.
- No desire to push or be competitive in the last 6 miles. I felt this way at the end of MCM as well.
Finally, the UGLY:
- The downhill totally killed my 2nd toenail on my right foot. It’s currently black… not sure if it’s going to fall off yet. If it does, it’ll be my first one! Which simultaneously freaks me out and excites me at the same time. It’s like I’ll be a REAL runner now.
Now, for the important part — what lessons did I learn that I can apply to Big Sur, which is now only 3 weeks away? Well, one practical thing I did was to buy new running shoes with more toe room, as well as a tad more cushion for the long distance. After trying on the Altra Intuition, Saucony Virrata, New Balance Minimus, and Merrell Bare Access 3’s, I came away with the Merrells, which offered the combination that I was looking for (light weight, zero drop, light cushioning, and good price point). I have to say that I thought the New Balance Minimus was the most comfortable shoe, but it didn’t look that durable… and for $110, it better last me a while!
Training-wise, I think the lack of high weekly volume and/or long runs became very obvious during the last 6-10 miles of the Oakland Marathon. There’s not much I can do about that now, but at least I have one very long, 26.4 mile training run under my belt for Big Sur. 😉 Another thing I can work on is my mental toughness, which continues to be a work-in-progress. While I was glad that I stayed positive when things got rough during Oakland, I’ve decided that I want to try harder at Big Sur. Yes, I want to enjoy the experience and take in the views, but I also want to finish the race leaving everything on the course. I couldn’t really do that at Oakland, with Big Sur on the horizon.
In a big picture sort of way, my experience at the Oakland Marathon had me wondering if I truly ENJOY the marathon distance. I can safely say that I like the challenge of the marathon, the sense of accomplishment upon crossing the finish line, and going to that crazy mental and physical space that I’ve only ever experienced during a marathon. However, I’m not sure if I enjoy the act of running 26.2 miles all that much. The first 6 miles are the most enjoyable, followed by the next 6, and then the 6 after that. It’s a weird dynamic where I’ve really disliked running the last 8 miles, but those last miles are also the ones that take the marathon to the next level and make it worthwhile in my mind.
Did the Oakland Marathon chase away the ghost of MCM? Yes and no. Although I was successful in avoiding the pit of despair at Oakland, I still wasn’t able to overcome the mental blocks in the last part of the race. For example, my resilience completely breaks down. I give in to the voice that says, “It’s OK to walk” even though I had just told myself that I wouldn’t take another walk break until the next mile marker or aid station. The mantras that have worked well for me for shorter distances just don’t seem to hold up during the marathon. I feel like I need to have a mental breakthrough if I want to “succeed at” or “conquer” the marathon. We’ll see if that happens at Big Sur.
Post-marathon recovery has been going splendidly! I eased back into running the first week back, running 2 miles on Tuesday, 3 miles on Wednesday, 4 miles on Thursday, and 6 miles on Sunday, for a total of 15 miles. I got an awesome sports massage on Friday that made me feel like a new woman.
This past week, I ran a timed mile on Monday, where I clocked a surprising 7:44 — not bad for 8 days post-marathon! I ran 6 miles on Wednesday, 3 hilly fartlek miles on Thursday, 10.5 VERY hilly miles at San Bruno Mountain with Jess and Cathryn, and 6 easy miles today. Total: 28.5 miles.
Here are some pics from my runs over the past 2 weeks:
With the exception of the run at San Bruno Mountain yesterday, which was intense (2200′ elevation gain), I feel like I’m almost completely recovered from Oakland. (For more photos and details on our San Bruno Mountain adventure, hop on over to Cathryn’s blog for a terrific write-up!) This next week, I’m planning on doing a mid-week hilly run, a speedwork/tempo session, and a 20-miler, totaling about 38 miles. Wish me luck!