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May 4 / Jane

The New Jersey Marathon 2014 – Part 3

Part 1: Pre-Race
Part 2: Race Day
Part 3: Post-Race Reflection

I went into this marathon very open. Open to a new experience, I wanted to enjoy the marathon. I think enjoy is now the wrong word. While I genuinely believed I could enjoy the marathon, it really wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to appreciate The Marathon. And now, I certainly do appreciate The Marathon. (Yes, that’s right, THE Marathon!)

I have run races of varying distances, including now six half marathons. Each half I’ve run I enjoy even more than the last. To say that running a half is fun for me, would not be untrue. From the first time I raced a half marathon to my most recent run and each one in-between (except maybe this one), I’ve honestly enjoyed it. My first half, I came up to the finish and thought, that’s it?! That was awesome! I could so do this again!

Of course that feeling (of wanting to run two 13.1mi races back to back) wears off about mile 16… After that, any inconsistency, any lack in your training shows and it slows you down. Mile 20 hits and you continue to move by sheer will, guts, grit… Mind over matter. I half-walked, half-power-walked, jogged (dare I say the word!), the final miles of The Marathon… But it was not until I crossed the finish that I started to hobble around.

I’m smiling in all my photos; I look like I’m enjoying it. I wasn’t. And initially, after this experience, I thought maybe it’s just not possible to enjoy The Marathon. But it’s not true (see here, here and here). I think I needed to have this experience. I downplayed the marathon after last year. I was so disappointed and I thought, well, with all the training I did and all I got was a lousy 4:43 finish, anyone can do that! Put in the time and run a marathon, simple. But it isn’t simple. I really wanted to run a marathon last year, I was determined to run 26 at 26, so I did. I followed a novice plan and expected advanced results. Disappointment from a set-up like that is inevitable, I see that now.

And 4:43 is not a lousy time! It’s just so much slower compared with other race distances I run… Other distances, many of which ares less than half of The Marathon. Of course they will be significantly faster! It’s taken me a year to be proud of my finish time. And despite the physical pain I went through this year, I finished faster! I achieved a new marathon PR. It feels weird to write that, I have a Marathon PR…

From this race, I gained an appreciation for The Marathon. I know the time and energy that goes into training, I have experienced the pain and self-doubt this race forces on you. It certainly was a humbling experience, one that was hard to put into words. I’m awed by the fact that one race, 26.2 miles, can put someone through so many emotions. My most prominent take away though, is joy and pride. I’m happy for the experiences this distance brought me, new friends and new achievements. I’m proud to say I’ve run a Marathon (twice now!). The running world is growing by leaps and bounds. Every year more and more people are running marathons. In a world where finishing can mean as much as competing, I’m proud I didn’t just finish, I ran my best.

photo (15)

 

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  1. So proud of you!!!!! After my first marathon I said I’d never do another full again. It was just too hard….well, we both know that didn’t happen as you crossed the finish line with me on #5. It’s the wonderful thing about endurance events like this…there will always be another opportunity to better our best, to learn what’s best for our bodies to go the distance and to tailor our training but most importantly each race SHOULD be enjoyable. I had moments in my first marathon where I just wanted to quit, stop, sit on the curb and cry. Somehow I kept going, walking when I had to. But I’ll never forget that one….It always reminds me that I had the courage to attempt something out of my comfort zone. Half marathons are more enjoyable for me now, and my finish times keep getting faster and I owe that to all my marathon training.

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