Transformation

photoThe marathon is in the bag, done, finished, conquered, and survived. I went to Los Angeles this last weekend with a stomach full of trepidation and a head full of anxiety. I walked around all day Saturday actually wondering what have I done. I in no way felt prepared for the adventure I had signed up for, and by adventure I mean insane attempt to run farther than I had ever made my body run before. It was quite simply the hardest thing I have ever done.

My doubts were not helped by the severe back pain I had all week. I threw absolutely every trick in my bag at it in hopes of making the pain go away. I had a massage. I put medicine patches on it. I stretched. Took a few bubble baths (don’t judge me. I like bubble baths). By Saturday the pain had subsided enough that I thought I could do the marathon on Sunday.

Then Sunday came and I was shocked at how nervous I was. When I took off running I had no clue what the final result would be. I learned a very valuable lesson early. The LA Marathon is crowded. I could have taken one of the higher starting times based on my half-marathon results but I choose to start back in the pack. I like to pass people when I am running. I was afraid if I started with people who ran my pace I would burn myself out early. This worked in my half-marathon. It did not work here. There were so many people I don’t think I got into my regular running stride until mile seven.

This is not a good thing for me. I pay a lot of attention to my mechanics because of my back. I could tell I was running a little awkward with all the slow downs and speed ups as I tried to get around people. Next time, I start towards the front and rely on my GPS watch to set my pace.

I also learned that I am a very good half-marathon runner. When I hit mile 13.1 I felt relaxed and good (despite the awkward start). I do remember having the thought, “damn it! I am only half way there.” When I hit mile seventeen I still felt good but I began to realize that I might have overdone the hydration. I had been so worried about dehydrating that I forced myself to drink. I could feel the water slapping around in my stomach. Next time, I am going to drink when I am thirsty.

Mile nineteen came and I made my next mistake. I didn’t know the course as well as I should have. I thought I was done with hills. I felt good and decided to push a little harder. It showed in my mile time. I ran mile nineteen in nine minutes. Then I hit a hill and my legs started tightening up. When I pulled into the water station in mile twenty I slowed down to get a drink and I felt the muscle in my upper back thigh completely cramp up. It was an agonizingly bad cramp. I have never had a cramp here and didn’t have any clue how to get rid of it. Fearing I would be unable to finish the race I stopped, stretched, and tried to massage it out.

The cramp went away and I started back on the course but the last six miles were agonizing. The leg felt like it was going to cramp back up the whole way. I slowed way down trying to control it. At this point I went from trying to nail a good time to making sure I completed my first marathon. When I crossed the finish line the first thought which entered my brain was, “I am never going to do this again.”

It was an interesting feeling walking around at the end. I was happy but not as happy as I thought I would be. Honestly, I was really annoyed at how slow I was over the last six miles. I couldn’t stop thinking about the course and all the mistakes I had made. In short, I was a little annoyed with myself. It wasn’t until two days later that it really hit me, I had run a marathon. 26.2 grueling miles of body torture. A feat most people will never accomplish. I got a little happier at this point.

It also didn’t take me very long to back off of my own words “never again.” I knew this wasn’t true. Hell, I knew it almost as soon as I thought it. This is why I spent so much time analyzing what I had done wrong. I wanted to run another one and I wanted to do it better. I signed up for the LA Marathon as a way of forcing myself to push farther than I thought my body would go. So I did it again. I signed up for the Seattle Marathon in June.

I know a few things are going to have to change though. I am going to have to transform myself. I need to get leaner and stronger. I need to make sure my core can handle the workload. It’s time to stop carrying any extra fat. I am going to have to make my body into something it has never been. A lean, mean, running machine. I will never be super fast at running a marathon. At this point I have one goal. Finish it in under four hours. I have a half-marathon time of 1:50, so I know it is possible but I am going to have to be a different person. Eat better, exercise better, stretch better. I like being competitive with myself. I am excited by this challenge. I have no idea where it will take me. Well, that isn’t true. It is eventually going to take me back to the LA Marathon next year. After that, who knows.

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About csdaley

C.S. Daley was born in California but has spent most of his life in his imagination. His first short story written in third grade, the now classic "Close Encounters of the Turd Kind," was sold to his next door neighbor for a quarter. The neighbor promptly demanded a refund. An unhealthy obsession with the writings of Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore, and Terry Pratchett have left his mind warped and broken. He spends most of his evening swilling down coffee while tapping at a keyboard under the watchful eyes of his kittens. They are there to make sure he doesn't snap. He likes to write fantasy for adults and teens.

2 Responses to “Transformation”

  1. great job on your LA marathon finish! I also ran the La Marathon and it was a blast!!

  2. I’m excited for you – that experience sounds like one of PiC’s marathons and he’s only taken that as a challenge to do better next time. I’m sure that your Seattle report will be quite different.

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