It’s difficult to do something new and when it’s far beyond the intensity of what you’ve done before, it’s even more daunting. But that’s never stopped me, so that’s why I attempted my first marathon this last weekend.
The Utah Valley Marathon is a fast scenic marathon that mostly goes downhill. Before the race I was a bit nervous but everyone was so friendly that it was easy to feel more comfortable with their encouragement. And after a very early start to catch a bus before 4 am, it was what I needed.
It was chilly as we lined up at the start line but the shot sounded and we were off. A marathon start is more like a train, where it takes a while to get going. With the downhill slope and cool temperatures I pushed hard and stuck with the pacing group that was going for 4 hours and 30 minutes for the first couple miles.
I kept a good pace of about 5 miles an hour for the first two hours but my knees were slowly getting worse and I had to run then rest more and more often. Eventually my knees couldn't take more so I switched to speed walking around mile 10. I was hoping my fast walking pace would keep me going fast enough to arrive before 12:30, but I noticed the discomfort in my right foot slowly turning into a sharper and sharper pain.
The scenery was beautiful with the mountains, river, and wildlife around us. At times I slowed down to see if it made a difference in my foot pain, but the constant pressure only made it worse. After 18.5 miles, the pain was so sharp I could barely walk or balance on my right foot so I decided to retire for the day.
I would have liked to continue to the end, but I was happy with a new personal record for longest distance. I feel like I gave it my best in the circumstances. I ran until I couldn't run, then walked until I couldn’t walk. If I had been closer to the end, I may have even considered limping across the finish line.
Overall it was a great experience and now I know how to better train in the future. This time I focused more on frequent medium length runs but next time I'll do more longer runs to build up resilience to the intense punishment of a marathon. I'd like to give a special thanks for all the help and encouragement of friends and family, as well as those special people on the course, especially those who saw me in those last few miserable miles and gave me some kind words or some little snacks to help me continue as long as possible.
My goal is to run two marathons this year, so even if I didn't complete this one, I'll be trying even harder next time!