GUEST BLOG BY MEGAN FAY
Megan Fay is a runner for Oiselle Team. When she isn't running, riding, swimming or otherwise getting sweaty you can find her enjoying a microbrew or blogging at www.DailySweatBlog.com. She lives and trains in Seattle, Washington. Her day job is pretty enviable, she has a gig at Nuun HQ!
Until last Spring, I had never had the desire to run a marathon. It felt it was a ridiculous distance to run and in retrospect, I still think the same thing. Last year, 13.1miles was as far as I wanted to run, but when I started to see quite a few internet friends sign up for California International Marathon in December, I started to play with the idea running farther than 13.1 miles. With a little bit of peer pressure and support from my boyfriend (who would have to put up with all my training), I signed up.
I lucked out and had a training buddy for most of my long runs, which is probably the main reason that I made it through marathon training alive. Having someone with me for the majority of my long runs made me not dread Saturday mornings. Those 18, 19, 20+ mile runs no longer seemed that daunting. Misery loves company.
The training plan was executed to a “T” and I showed up in Sacramento ready to run my first marathon. I was full of happy thoughts and excitement until I checked the forecast for race morning: monsoon rain and hurricane wind. Congrats to that weatherman, he was actually right! My excitement level quickly plummeted when I woke up to exactly what the weatherman had predicted on marathon day. It was insane. Like “What the heck am I thinking being outside right now, let alone running a marathon?” It was so bad you had to laugh.
The weather was not escapable during the race, so you just had to roll with it. I felt like I had jumped in a swimming pool by mile 2. No joke. I attempted to keep my pace, but by mile 8 or so, the wind was relentless and I knew my body couldn’t compensate for the extra energy being used, so I decided that the race was going to be about finishing, not about a sub-4:00 goal that I had set before the race. I couldn’t keep a goal that wasn’t realistic.
My quads also thought running was a bad idea at about mile 17. They became incredibly sore from running the rolling terrain which was unlike the flat terrain I trained on. I began incorporating walk breaks and the last 4 miles were so bad that I would run 100 steps, walk 100 steps. I’ve never wanted to be done with something more than I did those last couple of miles. Icing on the cake? The sun came out for the last two miles. Good timing…
I crossed the finish line in 4:07 and was completely done. I’ve never been emotional at races, but when I saw my boyfriend, I couldn’t hold back the tears. So many emotions! Happy, proud, in pain, hungry, nauseous, and exhausted.
My first marathon will hopefully be the exception to all other marathons I do. I was able to take away a lot from my first marathon experience like: I handled being soaked for 4 hours much better than I had thought I would, don’t go out too fast, run more hills while training, and strengthen my quads. I’m applying these learnings as I train for marathon numero dos coming up on May 5th. It is in Washington, so chances of another wet race are high, but I’m praying to Mother Nature that she gives me a pass after my experience in California. I mean, can it get any worse than that? And with that, I leave you a few tips:
How to survive a marathon in monsoon conditions:
- Accept that you’re going to get wet. I always remind myself “It’s just water - I bathe in this stuff!”
- As long as it’s not freezing, don’t overdress. Wet clothes = heavy clothes
- Cover your feet in Body Glide. Swampy shoes can lead to blisters, but Body Glide will seal your feet.
- Don’t forget to hydrate. Although the outside of your body is wet, you still need liquid on the inside.
- Wear a hat. It will keep the water out of your eyes.
- Try to dodge puddles, but not so much that you’re wasting energy. Swerving, jumping, and leaping take more energy than running. Your feet are going to get wet. Deal with it.
- Pull energy from spectators. They aren’t even participating, but they came out in the crazy weather to cheer YOU on. Let them pump you up and lift your spirits!
- Make sure there are dry clothes and shoes waiting for you at the finish line. Nothing feels better than putting on dry, warm sweats after practically swimming for 4 hours.
- Remember that everyone is going through the same thing. Yes, it sucks for you and it also sucks just as bad for the chick next to you.
- Whatever happens on race day, don’t solely judge your performance on what happened during the race. Recall all the training miles you put in and how much stronger you got leading up to the race. Know that you are officially more bad ass cause you ran 26.2 miles in insane weather.