13 Thoughts I Had While Running My First Marathon

Fear would be an understatement if I explained how I felt the moment I hit the submit registration button to register for my first marathon. The longest I had ever run before was a whopping 16 miles, and at the end of that 16 miles, I was pretty sure that I knew what death felt like. I could not have run another 20 yards by the time I hit 16 miles, and tacking on an additional 10.2 miles to that for a full marathon? It seemed like a pipe-dream — or more likely some kind of never-ending nightmare.

Despite the fear, I registered for the marathon and decided I would trust the training program. The program promised to get me prepared to run 26.2 miles and millions of people had used similar training programs, so the promise had to hold true for me too. Twenty weeks later, I arrived at the start line to my marathon and 26.2 miles of misery began.

I learned a few things during those 26.2 miles, and here are 13 of my thoughts as I ran my first marathon:

  • 13 Thoughts I Had While Running My First Marathon 1 of 14

    Click through to read the 13 thoughts I had as I completed my first marathon.

  • The Importance of Family 2 of 14

    I watched as runners around me had family there to support them at various points of the race. Family members would hold up signs with motivational phrases and they'd cheer their name. In reality, I'd probably feel uncomfortable if my family were there cheering my name, but having family there for support seemed like it would be a huge moral boost. My family, toddler and all, was waiting for me just ten feet past the finish line and it was a very welcome sight to see not quite as welcome as the finish line itself, but, you know.

  • Toddlers at a Marathon? 3 of 14

    Marathons are hard sports for spectators to attend. You never know where your runner is and even if you happen upon him/her, you only get to see him/her for about 30 seconds not to mention all the traffic issues that are caused by the closed roads. I can't imagine dragging a toddler around a marathon course for 4 or so hours trying to support a runner. That's why all of my pictures are of the finish line. My toddler wouldn't have handled being dragged around the course, so they hung out at the finish line.

  • Miles 1-2 4 of 14

    These were very frustrating miles. It was cold and rainy and my stupid phone would only shuffle between two songs. It's never fun beginning a long run while frustrated and angry. About a half mile into the race I had to stand off to the side for 5 minutes while I tried to fix my phone so it would shuffle through my carefully selected playlist. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, passed me as I fiddled with my phone. After I thought I had it fixed, five minutes later, I began my attempt to catch back up to the group. Ten minutes later I realized my phone was still only shuffling between two songs, I very angrily stood off to the side for another five minutes and finally figured out how to get my phone to shuffle all of the songs on my playlist.  

  • Miles 3-4 5 of 14

    When I arrived at the marathon start line, there were about 100 porta-johns. People were lined up to use those porta-johns about 20 deep. I watched several doors for about 20 minutes and nobody ever emerged from those porta-johns and the lines to use them never diminished. My theory is that people were using the porta-johns for shelter from the very cold rain, and that's pretty gross. Anyway, I began the race with a full bladder and my first four miles were filled with thoughts about finding a place to pee. Running with a full bladder produces pain with each and every bounce. Finally in the middle of mile 4, I stopped at a porta-john and waited in line for about 5 minutes before I could relieve myself.

  • Stay Away from the Edges 6 of 14

    On a number of runs outside I've flirted with the edges of the sidewalk and ended up with a rolled ankle. I kept catching myself during the marathon running near the edges of sidewalks for no reason at all. I did not want to roll my ankle, because it didn't matter how I got injured during that run, I was going to finish.

  • Miles 5-10 7 of 14

    Everything started going smoothly. I had caught back up to the group and had passed probably half of the group. My pacing was about 40 seconds per minute faster than I had planned, but I felt good. I thought I could run all day long at that pace.

    I thought wrong.

  • Mile 11 8 of 14

    This was the mile I learned about the day before the marathon. There weren't many reviews of the Indianapolis Marathon available online, so I missed the one review that described the big hill that runs through mile 11. Indiana, at least the upper half of the state, is flat. As in, I hadn't run on a hill in over a decade flat. When I saw the hill and I started to hear the groans from the other runners as we approached, my mood dropped significantly and I began to panic.That's when I began to hear the drum beats of Metallica beating in my headphones, a sound I hadn't heard since just before my last high school football game, and like Pavlov's Dog, the hair on my neck and arms stood up as the adrenaline began to flow through my body and just like that I conquered the hill as if it hadn't even been a part of the course. 

  • Miles 12-13 9 of 14

    I was very disappointed during these miles. During mile 12 I caught up with the official race pacer for a 2 hr 15 min half finish time and a 4 hr 30 min full marathon finish time. The half marathon time I was on pace to finish with was 15 minutes slower than it should have been. I was running at a pace faster than I did when I ran my last half marathon at just over 2 hours, but the music screw up and the bathroom break cost me 15 minutes and a PR at the half marathon mark. I was elated, however, to know I was still on pace to meet my goal for a full marathon of 4 hours and 30 minutes.

  • Miles 14-20 10 of 14

    These miles were surprisingly easy. My pace remained steady and I felt as if I could maintain the pace for the full 26.2. Once we hit mile 14, we watched as the much faster marathoners ran past us in the opposite direction as they were finishing up their last mile. Those guys were a full 12 miles faster than me and I could train non-stop for the next 10 years and I wouldn't be able to run at their pace. My body wasn't designed to run long distances quickly.

  • Miles 21-25 11 of 14

    Things went downhill for me quickly during these miles, and it wasn't really due to fatigue. The underside of both of my feet felt like giant bruises. At each water stop I would get my water and walk for about 200 yards because my feet hurt so bad. When I started running again it hurt even worse. I also started to really get mad at the Greeks wondering why they couldn't meet that marathon guy halfway.  

  • Finish With Addie 12 of 14

    When registering for the marathon, I realized that the kids' marathon, a 1 mile fun run that is run on the marathon course with the marathoners, would likely be finishing at the finish line at the same time I would be finishing my marathon. I wanted to be able to finish my last mile running alongside Addie as she ran her marathon. Throughout the marathon I had the time calculated to make sure we would meet up for that last mile. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. A few unfortunate breaks at the beginning of the marathon prevented that from happening.

  • Mile 26-26.2 13 of 14

    This .2. I used to joke with one of my friends about people who would quit a marathon at mile 25 or who wouldn't run the last .2 but would instead walk through the finish line. Yeah, I won't be joking about that in the future. When I hit that .2 I got really mad at the English monarchy. That lazy king couldn't walk the .2 to see the ending of a marathon but instead had to extend the race by .2 miles.  That .2 was miserable. By that point I could run about 50 yards and then walk about 10 yards. My energy was gone and the only thing that kept me from walking across the finish line was seeing my family just across the line. I couldn't let them see me walk through the finish line.

  • A Marathoner 14 of 14

    Goal accomplished, so what's next? I decided I would run the Chicago Marathon next year as well as the Marine Corps Marathon the following year. There was a woman I met before starting the marathon who had run over 50 marathons, which is pretty impressive. Many people have asked me if I've caught the marathon bug and have started scouring the Internet for all the marathons to run. That hasn't happened yet. I'm interested in running those two marathons and maybe they'll convince me to do more in the future.

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