Recently, I ran my first 42k distance in İstanbul Marathon, and it was the longest race I have completed in my lifetime. Previously, I have attempted to run three half marathons and 15k, 10k races, and finished in an enjoyed mood. But when the issue is running a marathon, things change.
For those who may not know, I always encourage people to make running a part of their life where I have posted the reasons in my previous article why you should start running today. It makes you physically and mentally relaxed.
After being a mid-distance runner for two years, I decided to attempt to run my first marathon at the beginning of the last summer. I have tried to follow a three months training program struggling with illnesses and unexpected travels. I believe I did my best for the training period, and the race day has become. I could not sleep well the previous night maybe because of stress since I have never run this kind of long-distance.
In the previous races, since I always registered for mid-distances, the starting area was so crowded and hard to start a smooth beginning. But in 42K start area, I was almost 3-5m away from the very first start line where elite athletes were located. Total number of 42k runners were about 10% of mid-distance runners. Anyway, the race has been started and the foots were started to strike the ground.
Marathon start was awesome. First 10K was easy, I did not feel any tiredness. There was a vast audience that encourages runners by making music and cheers. I passed 10K checkpoint approximately as my personal best time in the trainings. I have still had control between 10K to 20K. I fixed my pace and ate first energy gel. By the way, since mid-distance runners have finished, there was no crowd anymore after 15k checkpoint.
At 20K, literally, i hit the wall… My energy level was suddenly dropped and I have started to lose my pace. I had faced this situation in the past when I was training my first 30k training, and it was expected since I was running such a distance the first time. But being such a condition in 20K was an alarm for me. I have decreased my speed to the jogging pace and tried to get energy from the remaining two gels. I was surprised, physically and mentally.
I ran at speed slower than my plans during 8K. At 28K, i feel completely exhausted. At the first time, i thought should I leave the race. I feel I am like 1% battery left iphone. I started to eat whatever I find in the eating destinations to fulfill my energy again. Apples, bananas, redbull drink etc. When I was eating those fruits, I stopped and walked a bit and lost my jogging tempo also. My motivation was at the ground level, but since I have a good start until 20K, I still have a chance to finish a reasonable time if I continue to run in a mid-tempo.
Then the race became a run or leave war for me. Each cell in my body wants to gıve up the race and sit anywhere I can find. But my brain wants to see the finish line. I run at a very slow pace between 28-35K. Then my legs finally have rebel to me… My longest training was 32k before the race. I was facing different reactions from my body in this interval. There was a tough pain in my right foot, which destroyed my running form. 35-40k was like a hell for me. But I saw a poster at 40k written as “pain goes away pride lasts forever” which put a big smile in my face and created a motivation.
I don’t want to give more detail for last 2 kilometers since i don’t want to remember, but i completed the race in a running pace 🙂
During the race, i have thought too much about why i have attended such a long distance race, why am i running? I have found answers after I finished.
Pushing the boundaries and seeing our limit was like a milestone in our life. Somehow I finished a 42K distance race. But I have gained a very good training pace for 21k distances. If I did not make a goal to run a marathon, I would not train these much of mid-distances. Now i enjoy too much in the mid distances since i saw whats happening when distance increases 🙂
I dont know when will I attempt my second marathon. I learned I need to do more intensive training with good sleep and nutrition. I need to have free time for such a training. Until then, I will maintain my pace and run a new personal best half maraton next time i hope. By the way, I may be addicted to run regularly because of the hormones i got each week. A good habit has been gained 🙂
My marathon log: https://www.strava.com/activities/2840178336