I AM A MARATHONER! I still cannot believe that I got through the 16 week training and completed the race.  The race was just as I thought it would be, HARD! It was the hardest thing I ever had to do behind childbirth. There were times when I just thought I can’t make it any further, but I pushed myself through it and got to the finish line.  I know there were a few people that probably thought I was out of my mind for saying I wanted to do a full marathon.  After all I am a busy working mom with not a ton a of spare time.  How would I ever have time to train and accomplish this? It was tough. It required sacrifice, and a lot of help from my awesome husband. 
I wanted to share a few recaps from my marathon experience that helped me get across the finish line. Hopefully this will help prepare you for your next race. 

Preparing for the race day: I created an awesome blog for tips on training and preparing.  I do believe that my training did truly help me with having a great race day.  There are many marathon training plans out there for marathons.  Some has your longest mileage at 18, 20, 22, and even a few further than that.  My training stopped me at 20 miles.  Now that I have completed the full marathon, I wish that I would have picked a training plan that had me go to 22 miles.  Running the last 6 miles were the hardest part of the race.  My body mentally and physically died at those 6 miles.  I wish that I would have completed mileage closer to the full 26.2.  I think it could have helped me to get past the mental barrier if I only had a few more miles that I hadn’t ever run before. 
Another major task I cannot stress enough for preparation is HYDRATION! A lot of what helped me get through the race was being hydrated.  Days before the race I started really increasing my water intake, it helped me power through and not collapse during the last quarter of the race.
Race Day: Wake up early enough so you can ease into your morning and don’t skip breakfast.  The last thing you want is to already have nerves from race anticipation and then to add running late nerves. Arrive to the site early! When I got there parking was packed, I had to park 2 miles from the starting line.  That cut into my warm-up and stretching time.  In my previous half marathon, traffic was so bad entering the race location that I had to get out the car and run almost a mile to get the starting line on time! Horrible! So just be sure to give yourself enough time.  Another benefit to getting there early is you have enough time to stop to use the restroom.  The last thing you want is finally getting in the groove with a great stride, and feeling like you have to use the restroom.

First half of the race:  I started off strong, truly enjoying the experience.  If you have never run a race make sure to not get caught with nearby runners pace.  It could cause you to push your pace too early, and put yourself at risk of running out of gas towards the end. I used this first half to hydrate myself, and just enjoy that I was actually doing the marathon. It’s easy to feel great in the beginning, but I cannot stress enough to SAVE that energy. You will need it.  Reflecting on my pace I believe I went just a little to fast the first half.  Energy packs are your best friend, after the first 30 minutes I started using my fuel packs.  You have to start early, so you never get to a point of complete depletion.

Second half: This is where it got real. The aches started, the mental sike outs began, and fatigue set in. This is where you have to motivate yourself the most.  Be your own cheerleader.  I constantly was saying “Taryn come on, let’s go!” Another major thing I did was give myself personal milestones.  I mentally started to set a goal to get to the next water station, or make it to this sign.  It helped me look forward to something and keep running.

By the time I got to my last grueling 7 miles I was mentally and physically done. They say your body can hit a wall when you run higher mileage, and I truly believe I hit it.  I had nothing left to give.  All of a sudden my pace per mile dropped significantly, and I physically couldn’t  go any faster.  As a newbie to doing a marathon, I didn’t truly know what to expect. I think this could have been avoided with longer training mileage and slower pace in the beginning. During your last few miles just hydrate yourself, fuel your body with bananas and/or fuel packs.  Don’t give into the thoughts that you have to stop.

Once I got to my last mile I knew that I had to just grind to the end. At the final .3 miles I started seeing spectators and I knew I made it!   I then spotted my 8-year old son Cameron, niece, and brother in-law. Cameron started shouting “GO MOMMY” repeatedly and started running to the finish line. I then see my sister screaming, and then she start running.  Mind you my sister had just gotten off her 3 day 12 hour work stretch. I just emotionally lost it at that point. I finally spotted the rest of my family as I was finishing, and just was filled with so much joy and relief.  To have all your family support you in what seemed like a crazy task was unforgettable.  I was greeted with tons of hugs, and even miles sister states away was waiting on FaceTime to congratulate me.

My take away from the marathon journey in one word, challenging.  However, it was an awesome feeling to know I have accomplished something I never thought I could do.  I used to say, I will never do a marathon, or I just don’t have the time. Here I am today, and officially saying that I am a marathoner. I know I don’t get prize for running a marathon.  What I do get is personal growth for myself.  And most importantly setting the example to my children that you can take on what seems like an impossible task, and succeed.  I don’t want my children to run away from something just because it is difficult.  When you finally make it through the other side you will be a better person for it.  I hope Cameron looks back at this and sees his mom as his role model. 

If you are considering doing a marathon or even a half.  Don’t cut your training short or skip days.  It is truly needed to prepare you for a tough race! That truly made the difference for me.  Also continue to keep motivating yourself through the race. You will need it!

Recovery: Once you have completed the race, use that week to recover. Continue to hydrate and keep that carb intake higher. Do not do any major physical activity. Allow your body time to recover completely.  I know you are feeling like an Olympian after the race but you are more prone to injury if you push it.  I have got my fair share a battle wounds from the race. I am dealing with a severely bruised toe, so I may be taking more than a week.  Do what works for your body. 

Most importantly never doubt your abilities on the running the race.  You have trained for this and are out there doing it! That is half the battle! Just take it one mile at a time until you have reached the finish line!