Last weekend I ran the Charleston Marathon on Saturday and the inaugural Jekyl Island Marathon on Sunday. So many reflections on the experience….
I’ll be completely honest: I didn’t train. I of course ran most days (every day since Thanksgiving) leading up to race weekend, but the longest I ran this training cycle was just under 14 miles. I never did back-to-back long runs, nor anything longer than that 14 mile run. Clearly not recommended, but when you work 7days a week and have countless recitals and Christmas concerts and gigs, there is very little time to run more than 5 miles at a time. After a lot of guilty nights not getting long runs in, I realized that there literally was no time.
I didn’t train, so why go through with the double marathon? I’m stubborn. I had to see if I could do it. I wanted to check off a couple more states off of my 50 State Marathon goal. I needed something to make me feel alive. I needed an experience to remind me what an amazing machine the human body is. I needed something just for me to sustain me through the next semester.
The first marathon of the weekend was in South Carolina. We started off near the ocean, ran through historical neighborhoods up to North Charleston. While a relatively small race, it was well organize, perfect number of hydration stations and extraordinarily prepared emergency personnel (they were all over the course. I have honestly never felt safer in a race.). Because I was untrained and did not know how my body was going to respond, I ran about 14 miles of the race. After that point I went from a walk-run strategy to walking entirely (my calves were getting tight and I had to make it through the marathon on Sunday). At mile 25 I felt a huge blister on my foot burst, but ran the last mile in to cross the finish line. My sister crossed the line a while later and we celebrated with shrimp and grits and my sister with champagne. We then had to hop in the car and head to Georgia to pick up our packets and bibs for Sunday’s race.
Jekyl Island Marathon
We made it to packet pick-up with only 20minutes to spare. When we got to the hotel, I loaded up on NUUN, protein and carbs, patched up all of the blisters on my feet and did a little stretching (definitely not enough). Sunday morning I could barely walk to the corral to toe the start line, but I had a job to do. I was in so much pain I wasn’t sure how far I could run, but I knew that I had to at least start the race running and go from there. I did end up loosening up a bit and ran just over 7miles. My calves and right hamstring were starting to sing a different tune, so I went into my walk/run strategy. Shortly after passing mile 10 my sister found me and ran just through mile 11. I REALLY needed that. After mile 12 the course got really quiet and lonely. The time limit was 7.5hours. If I crawled the rest, I could still make it. Just after 13.1 I started the walk. Everything hurt! Right before mile 14 I heard a voice, “I’m doing 30-30’s. Wanna join?!” I hesitated and then thought, “I need all the help I can get. Do it!” Bev and I alternated walking 30seconds and running 30seconds for tthe remainder of the race. She is a local (from one island over) and gave me the history of the island, explained how the course had to change because of the hurricanes that passed through months earlier, learned about her family, how she came to running, and so much more. We passed and sometimes were passed; we picked up some other runners and then we or they left. When we got to 26 miles, we started to run that last .2mile. With the finish line in our sights Bev reached for my hand and we crossed that finish line together. I could not have finished that race without my new friend, Bev.
What I learned
⁃ After a doozy of a run at the Chicago Marathon last fall, I was so thrilled to have been better hydrated.
⁃ My shoes are too wide. The huge blisters on my feet toes confirmed that I might need to continue tweaking my shoe choic.
⁃ My hamstrings and calves are incredibly tight. I must add yoga to my life. At this point, it’s a non-negotiable.
⁃ The back of the pack is an amazing place. Everyone there is so kind, so supportive. I’ve always been a middle of the packer (except for high school cross country, I was ALWAYS in the back then), and the back of the pack feels more like a team.
⁃ I have the stamina to handle an ultra marathon someday, but I’d rather try another double marathon first. But maybe not until next year….