4 days ago I was starting out on a 42 km training run.
If this is all you read, then yes I did run the extra 200m at the end to make it 42.2km – my first ‘unofficial’ marathon.
If you train with one of Jeff Galloway’s marathon plans you will notice that he requires you to run the distance 3 weeks prior to the event. This is unique to most other marathon plans and is the main reason why I chose it as a training plan. Furthermore, I went on to sign up to his e-coaching which gave me a customised training plan based on my abilities, or in my case – lack of.
Each week I email JG with a report of how my long run went, what the temp was on the day, what intervals I used and if there were any aches or pains at the end. After Saturday’s long run I received an email back saying ….
‘Congratulations Sarah, you are a marathoner’.
HB had also run a 42.2km long run during the week for the first time and I turned him after reading this email and said, ‘I guess we’re marathoners now, huh?‘.
It really doesn’t feel that way, but I’m not sure what a marathoner is supposed to feel like? I’m not an athlete. I am an everyday average SAHM who sets herself exercise goals and uses running as release and therapy.
Ridiculous goals some have suggested.
How did my run go?
I set my alarm for 4.30am on Saturday morning, I silently got up got dressed. I drank an awful cup of instant coffee as I didn’t want to wake anyone using the coffee machine, ate some breakfast, taped up my feet up and set out the door.
This long run was different as I was planning to do 10 loops of a 4.5km course. It meant no traffic, beautiful coastline, picturesque views, a flat course and I could hydrate and fuel along the way without needing to wear my hydration vest.
I started running at 5.38am, it was still pitch black and there were no other runners in sight. I wasn’t quite brave enough to start off on my first loop as many backpackers and locals sleep out along the path and there is no lighting. So I set off down the street and by the time I had 5km under my belt the sunrise was greeting me like a long lost friend.
I commenced the loops.
It was 19C which in Darwin is lovely, cool and refreshing, but I knew as that red sun rose higher into the sky the temp would also quickly climb with it.
I had a gel at the 45minute point and it takes me a few kms to get one down. I have no idea how runners can suck a whole one down in one quick gulp. I’ve chosen the salted caramel flavour GU gels and I also have the Clif Shot bloks with me too as an alternative.
Now JG has insisted I run all my long runs at an 8min/km pace, I’ve never quite done this. Most runs before this have been at 7.30/km pace, but my last 37km long run I finished happy and strong with 6.59min/kms.
On Saturday, my first 5kms were slow and steady but then after that I was easily running sub 7min/kms so I stayed with it. It felt good.
At the halfway point I looked at my Garmin and my time was 2:24 and I realised that if I could keep this up I would achieve my sub 5 hour goal for a marathon.
Everything went well until I hit the 37km point, I had one loop left to run and I looked at my Garmin after it beeped thinking I just passed 38kms but almost cried when it said 37 kms. That 1 km difference is freaking huge when you have been running for just over 4 hours.
Anxiety set in, I found it hard to breathe, so I tried sucking on another a gel thinking a sugar boost would help, but it was no use as I had run smack into a giant wall. I have never hit ‘the wall’ like this before and it was bloody tough.
I don’t know why they call it the wall either?
It should be called a motherfucking sink hole because you have to gather all your willpower to climb out of there and keep on running.
So that’s what I did. One foot in front of the other and I ran. Crawling might be a better choice of words.
I thought about walking the rest of the way, but I knew this was my one shot of a sub 5 hour marathon so I did the best I could.
The temperature was 28C now and the shade had all but disappeared with the early morning breeze. I wasn’t thinking straight and all I could focus on was listening out for my Garmin to beep those last few torturous kms away.
I tried to think about what it would be like sitting at the Trailer Boat Club later that day with my feet up and a glass of wine in hand and watching the sun I ran to as it rose earlier, set softly into the sea.
Finally, 42 kms! I had done it and a huge smile crept over my salt encrusted face. But I wasn’t done yet, I ran the last 200 metres, stopped my Garmin and started walking.
I had just ran my first unofficial marathon.
I had to walk an extra 2 kms to the car, I stopped and rehydrated then drove 5 mins home where HB met me at the pool with a towel. I soaked my legs in the ice cold water and walked upstairs.
Recovery from these last two long runs has been harsh. The 37km left me with foot pain and fatigue which lasted several days. The foot pain was my own fault for switching to a new pair of shoes, but I wasn’t expecting the chronic tiredness and fatigue that followed them.
This time I went back to an old pair of runners and escaped the foot pain and instead two giant blood blisters bubbled underneath my big toes.
JG also reminded me in his email that if I had of run the 8min/kms that I wouldn’t be feeling so run down.
I don’t regret it. I have no idea what will happen in Sydney and I’m expecting my finishing time to be slower with the hilly course.
And as much as I cursed that last 5kms I am so glad I did it because now no matter what happens on the day, I know I can run 42.2kms.
One more 21km run and then the taper begins.