Last weekend I finished my sixth marathon this year, the Reykjavik marathon. It was number six on my journey to completing 12 marathons in 2015, a personal challenge I took on at the beginning of the year.
Running a marathon almost every month is a lot of work–a lot of travel, a lot of training, a lot of planning, a lot of recovery, and heck of a lot of money. It’s everything I’d imagined it would be, and more.
At the return of each marathon most people have asked: How’d it go? Is it getting easier?
This one went far better than expected. Thankfully, at this halfway point, it is getting easier.
The Reykjavik marathon took me back to road racing, my first love. (My previous marathon was a mountain trail event.)
The Reykjavik course was 60% flat and 40% hilly. A few months ago, I would have surely noticed (and cursed) those hills–especially the ones toward the end–but this time around I welcomed them. The hills added the variety and challenge that I sometimes miss in flat Amsterdam.
There were few spectators and little road-side entertainment but the course was breathtakingly beautiful. That was more than enough for me.
It was a cool, overcast day with a slight drizzle the last few miles–great weather for marathoning in August.
Leading up to the event, I had some quality downtime and felt fresh and restored at the start.
In the first miles, I locked in a comfortable, leisurely pace that I could maintain for the entire 42.2 kilometers. Photo stops and fuel-station walk breaks were included.
My marathon plan this year has been to cover the distance while minimizing post-marathon recovery time, plus have fun! This has meant holding back my speed and forgetting about finish times.
Despite being the hilliest road marathon this year, my comfortable, leisurely pace carried me to my fastest finish of the year.
One of the reasons I took on this challenge was to learn more about what my body can do and how it adapts to new demands. Going into this challenge, my worst case scenario was that my body break down or that I lose lots of speed. Thankfully, this hasn’t been the case.
At the finish, I felt fresh and although my legs were stiff, I didn’t feel like I’d run a marathon. The only soreness I had was a small spot on the bottom of my foot that appeared later that evening. It was quite sore but a week later it’s 95% gone. Not bad for having just run a marathon!
My Reykjavik experience tells me that I’m not only recovering well, but improving along the way. I’m getting stronger and my easy, leisurely pace is getting faster without extra effort. Hills no longer break me and I call upon my mental strength less and less to keep me going.
While I still can’t say that a marathon is easy, this one has been the “easiest” thus far. Not because of the environment or the course but because, as they say: the more you do it, the easier it gets.
This is a nice reminder for runners of all levels.
The first few times we try something new or step outside our comfort zone, it’s tough.
We might hate it [running sucks!] and it may feel like our body is revolting [it hurts!], but if it gets us to our goals we needn’t give up too quickly. When sticking with it a bit longer, our tough becomes easy. Before we know it, we’re taking on bigger and crazier challenges.
I’m thankful for those tough moments on my journey thus far. It’s gotten me where I am today.
And who knows what exciting challenges I’ll be able to take on next year!?
Next stop in 2015: Marathon du Medoc on 12 September
A lesson learned
Ever since I started running marathons, there have been people who thought my goals were crazy.
When you go for dreams or goals that scare you, they’ll scare other people too. There will be people on your journey who don’t support you or advise you against it. They might find convincing reasons to discourage you from going for your goals or dreams.
Don’t let them get you down and know that most often this advise comes from a place of love. They want to look out for you but that doesn’t mean that they know best.