Thoughts After My First Marathon

I look happy in that pic, don't I?

Well, to tell the truth, I was in quite a lot of pain. But it's the best pain I've ever felt in my entire life. I just ran a MARATHON, guys - not four hours ago. Holy crap.

So, while sitting here waiting for a dinner reservation to celebrate, I thought I'd share with you guys a few of the thoughts flying through my head right now.

First and foremost, and there's no getting around this one... This guy right here just ran a Marathon:

26.2 miles I ran. The entire last mile, I held this picture in my head. It astounded me how far I've come, and words cannot express the pride and sense of accomplishment I felt when I crossed the finish line. I cried as my wife hugged me in celebration. And there's a part of me that felt a little sting for ever letting myself get to the above photo's state, so that was a little "ow" there.

Next, it hurts like hell to run a marathon. Period. In fact, I'd say that once you get to about the 14 or 16 mile portion of your training regimen, the cardio is no longer a factor. Your cardio is good enough to go run a marathon. Everything after that point is just training your body to be able to take the pain, pressure and stress of going 26.2 miles... And there's a lot of it.

Third, that thing about the "runner's high" or "the zone" or whatever? 100% true. You get into a rhythm while running (if you've trained properly and found your pace) where, yes, it hurts and it's an effort and takes intestinal fortitude... But you're not thinking about it. Your legs are like a machine that just keeps churning. And while you THINK it'd feel pretty good to stop and walk or just sit down, the exact opposite is the case. Running actually feels the best of all three options. So, you just settle in and start churning away.

Fourth, you'd think that as you get up to miles 20 and beyond, every single mile you finish feels like such a great accomplishment and encourages you to keep going and push harder... HELL NO. All you can think is "Holy crap, this is mile 22, why the hell can't they just trust that I can do the other 4.2 miles and let me stop now?" You think about the days you only did a 2 mile run or a light jog and you think "GAH it's only 20 more minutes, just... WHY CAN'T THIS BE OVER???"

Fifth, if you're interested in ever trying a marathon... It takes work. A LOT of work. I highly recommend you start with a half marathon if you can, for purely milestone purposes. That said, ANYONE with a base level of fitness (can walk a mile without stopping, can go up a few flights of stairs, etc) can do a Marathon starting from zero in just four months of training - and anyone who can run three miles without stopping can do one in just three months. There are tons of books on the subject, but I recommend Hal Higdon's Marathon Training book.

Sixth, relating to why I did a marathon of all the things in the world I could have chosen to do... I'm done with football training. I just don't think it's in the cards for me to play pro anymore. My wife is a marathoner and triathlete, and while the past few years have seen us going to the gym together, a lot of our training was separate. She says the marathon is by far the hardest thing she's ever done, and I decided "Hell... Since I don't have a sport anymore, why not try the hardest thing ever, just to show myself I can do it?" A year ago, I never thought I'd do even a half marathon, or really even a 10k. But I wanted a statement to myself and myself alone which would signify the real difference I've made in my shape and fitness. Thus, marathon.

Seventh, I saw a pretty vast improvement in both my speed and my endurance as I lost weight during the marathon training. Going from carrying 290ish pounds three to four miles (MOST OF IT MUSCLE YOU GUYS, TOTALLY) to 250ish lbs across the same distance was, all by itself, a huge improvement in my training. I highly recommend anyone planning to try any endurance event whatsoever to explore eating plans that support proper diet and allow you to burn calories while staying energized, the weight loss alone will improve your ability to finish.